Dr Farrukh Saleem
Five thousand square kilometres of Swat are now under Taliban control — de jure. Chitral (14,850 sq km), Dir (5,280 sq km), Shangla (1,586 sq km), Hangu (1,097 sq km), Lakki Marwat (3,164 sq km), Bannu (1,227 sq km), Tank (1,679 sq km), Khyber, Kurram, Bajaur, Mohmand, Orkzai, North Waziristan and South Waziristan are all under Taliban control — de facto. That’s a total of 56,103 square kilometres of Pakistan under Taliban control — de facto.
Six thousand square kilometres of Dera Ismail Khan are being contested. Also under ‘contested control’ are Karak (3,372 sq km), Kohat (2,545 sq km), Peshawar (2,257 sq km), Charsada (996 sq km) and Mardan (1,632 sq km). That’s a total of 16,802 square kilometres of Pakistan under ‘contested control’ — de facto. Seven thousand five hundred square kilometres of Kohistan are under ‘Taliban influence’. Additionally, Mansehra (4,579 sq km), Battagram (1,301 sq km), Swabi (1,543 sq km) and Nowshera (1,748 sq km) are all under ‘Taliban influence’. That’s a total of 16,663 square kilometres of Pakistan under ‘Taliban influence’ — de facto. All put together, 89,568 square kilometres of Pakistani territory is either under complete ‘Taliban control’, ‘contested control’ or ‘Taliban influenced’; that’s 11 per cent of Pakistan’s landmass.
Where is Pakistan army? To be fair, under our constitution law enforcement — and establishing the writ of the state — is the responsibility of our civil administration. Yes, under Article 245, the federal government can call in the army “in aid of civil power” but the overall strategy has to be devised by our politicians. Counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency are very specialised operations. Textbook counter-insurgency has three elements: Clear-Hold-Build (C-H-B). The army may be required to ‘clear’ insurgents from a particular area but every army operation creates a vacuum that has to be filled by a civil-political administration. After the ‘clearing’ of insurgents it has to be the politicians to ‘hold’ that area and then fulfil the social contract — dispensation of justice, municipal services etc — between the ruled and the rulers (classic counter-insurgency is DDD, disrupt, dismantle and defeat).
At least 11 per cent of Pakistan’s landmass has been ceded to the Taliban. Where is the Pakistan army? I Corps is in Mangla, II Corps is in Multan, IV Corps in Lahore, V Corps in Karachi, X Corps in Rawalpindi, XI Corps in Peshawar, XII Corps in Quetta, XXX Corps in Gujranwala and XXXI is in Bahawalpur, In effect, some 80 to 90 per cent of our military assets are deployed to counter the threat from India. The Pakistan army looks at the Indian army and sees its inventory of 6,384 tanks as a threat. The Pakistan army looks at the Indian air force and sees its inventory of 672 combat aircraft as a threat. The Pakistan army looks at the Indian army and notices that six out of 13 Indian corps are strike corps. The Pakistan army looks at the Indian army and finds that 15, 9, 16, 14, 11, 10 and 2 Corps are all pointing their guns at Pakistan. The Pakistan army looks at the Indian army and discovers that the 3rd Armoured Division, 4 RAPID Division and 2nd Armoured Brigade have been deployed to cut Pakistan into two halves. The Pakistan army looks at the Taliban and sees no Arjun Main Battle Tanks (MBT), no armoured fighting vehicles, no 155 mm Bofors howitzers, no Akash surface-to-air missiles, no BrahMos land attack cruise missiles, no Agni Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles, no Sukhoi Su-30 MKI air superiority strike fighters, no Jaguar attack aircraft, no MiG-27 ground-attack aircraft, no Shakti thermonuclear devices, no Shakti-II 12 kiloton fission devices and no heavy artillery.
Pakistan is on fire and our fire-fighters are on the Pakistan-India border. To be certain, none of those Indian tanks can cross the Himalayas into China so Arjun MBTs must all be for Pakistan. Thus, the Pakistan-India border has to be defended. Then, what about this hyperactive insurgency that is snatching away Pakistani physical terrain — bit by bit? There certainly is no easy way out. America wants the Pakistan army to neutralise threats to the mainland US. The Pakistan army, on the other hand, has to defend the Pakistan-India border. The need of the hour, therefore, is for all organs of the Pakistani state — the executive, the legislature, the judiciary and the military — to put their heads together and devise a National Counter-Insurgency Policy.
The writer is the executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). Email: farrukh15 @hotmail.com