Pakistan’s Threat Perception

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Pakistan’s Threat Perception: Threat Perception is an essential characteristic of a military think tank of any nation. When a threat is an apparent well in time, countermeasures are taken to eliminate the threat at whatever level it exists. Every nation faces some kind of threat or the other from its known opponent, sworn enemy or a hidden Trojan horse (virus). Once the source of threat and its character are identified, effective steps should be taken not only to eliminate it but also kill the unknown enemy who caused the threat. Failure to identify the source of threat and its nature may be like committing suicide at the national level.

Security Threats from Indian Side

Pakistan came into existence on August 14, 1947, with the Partition and independence of British India. The creation of a separate Muslim nation was accomplished largely through the efforts of Mohammed Ali Jinnah (known as the Quaid-e-Azam or “great leader”). Jinnah served as Pakistan’s first Governor-General until his death in 1948; his picture graces virtually every official Pakistani office. Pakistan initially consisted of two areas, East Pakistan and West Pakistan, separated by 1,000 miles of Indian Territory. In 1947-48, Pakistan and India fought the first of their three wars involving the Muslim majority territory of Kashmir, which both claimed and whose Hindu maharajah opted for India at Partition. The conflict ended in stalemate and Kashmir remains disputed territory divided by a heavily defended Line of Control where since 1948 UN observers have investigated reported violations.

Pakistan’s Basic Problems

As Pakistan passed its first half-century of existence, its security problems had changed yet were in many ways the same. The global setting has altered radically, but the enmity with India remains a constant, although it has gained in predictability and, probably, stability. Subversion is still a potential rather than an active threat. Problems of law and order are more acute, but the means of dealing with them has not changed greatly. Rather, Pakistan’s security problems are rooted in its own polity and society. Repeated political collapse, corruption, inability to define its ethnic and religious identities, and failure to meet the needs of the people are challenges that could eviscerate a state even with the most capable military machine and efficient security apparatus.

Poverty remains a serious problem in Pakistan Average per capita income was only $495 in 1995-96, and income and wealth are not equitably distributed. The population of 135 million, is growing at almost’ 3 percent per year. Domestic political instability throughout the Bhutto administration and continuing ethnic and sectarian violence under the caretakers and the government: of Nawaz Sharif who was elected February 3, 1997, has stunted foreign investment.

Internal Threats

Internal threats to Pakistan come from several sources. The greatest danger to the democratic constitutional structure is posed by the recurrent intervention in the government of the Pakistani military and, since the Zia years, by the president who, under the controversial, Eighth Amendment to the constitution, is empowered to arbitrarily dismiss the prime minister and National Assembly as well as the provisional governors. It could be argued that the military has only intervened when the political situation has deteriorated hopelessly and that the threat is in fact from much more deep-seated problems.

Threats to Punjab

Another danger is the problem of ethnic unrest. Punjab, with almost 60 percent of the population, dominates almost all aspects of national life. This fact is resented by smaller ethnic groups, all of whom have at one time been actively rebel.

Threats to Sindh

For the most part, with the exception of Sindh, the situation was quiet in the early 1990s. Sparsely settled Baluchistan required an extensive pacification campaign by the army from 1973 to 1977, and both Afghan and Soviet involvement was alleged. After the war in Afghanistan, however, there was no source of outside support and no significant violence. The potential for unrest remains, however, because Baloch feels threatened by the growing numbers of non-Baloch moving into the province.

Threats to KPK

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has long, been restive and subject to Kabul’s blandishments on the basis of shared Pashtun identity, but Afghanistan no longer offers a feasible alternative, and the Afghan Pashtun tribal groups have participated rather well in Pakistan’s modest prosperity. Some Kashmiris in Pakistani-held Azad (Free) Kashmir probably envision a future independent of Pakistan, but their attentions have been absorbed by the problems of Indian-held Kashmir.

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