Leadership: The Pakistan Paradox


August 23, 2014: One thing American and Indian analysts of Pakistan agree on (along with a growing number of Pakistanis) is that the Pakistani generals see peace with India as a threat. That is because for decades the Pakistani military has justified their large budget and the resulting affluence of senior officers by claiming that India is planning to invade Pakistan. The Pakistani politicians know better but are afraid of getting into public arguments with the generals. In the past that sort of public dispute usually preceded a coup.

India also accuses the Pakistani military of using some of this violence to distract Indian border guards in an effort to get as many Islamic terrorists across before snow closes many of the remote smuggling routes the terrorists use to get into Kashmir. The Pakistani generals dismiss all this as lies and part of an Indian plot to weaken Pakistan. This sort of Pakistani aggression in Kashmir has been going on for three decades, ever since a Pakistani military government in the late 1970s decided to join forces with Islamic radicals to fight India.

Pakistan continues to deny these government links to Islamic terrorists, even though it is an open secret inside Pakistan and a growing body of evidence confirms the continuing links and support. The Pakistani generals apparently feel that the presence of nuclear weapons makes Indian threats of war (to halt the growing border violence) meaningless and makes possible all manner of mischief against the Indians.

For over a decade the elected leaders of India and Pakistan have agreed, with increasing enthusiasm, that the 2003 ceasefire on Kashmir border should be enforced. That has not worked out because Pakistani politicians are reluctant to take on their military leaders directly over this. The Pakistani generals still speak out against any attempts to calm things down on the Kashmir border. The generals blame India for any problems there and Pakistani media, fearful of retaliation or just eager for a cheap and effective headline, go along with the myth that India is the aggressor here.

The Indian military analysts are no longer alone in pointing out this problem with Pakistani military doctrine. Now the U.S. is joining the chorus. This is a new development. During the Cold War India was closely aligned with the Soviet Union so the United States tended to back Pakistan. But after the Cold War ended in 1991 it was safe for U.S. Department of Defense analysts to point out that Pakistan had been the aggressor in all the their wars with India (which India always won) and that India was more and more viewing China as the main military danger for India. The Americans have become more and more vocal and detailed in their criticism of the Pakistani military and agree that China is the greater threat to both India and the United States. 

Even though Pakistan had nuclear weapons after 1999 India viewed Pakistan as less of danger than China, which was far larger and wealthier than Pakistan and rapidly expanding its military. It’s now gotten to the point where Pakistani analysts (especially if they are safely out of the country) agreeing with the Indian and American assessment. A growing number of journalists and analysts inside Pakistan agree as well although those who do so publically are still subject to threats and even assassination by the military.






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