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Three-Front War

Dr Atique Ur Rehman

Fighting terrorism, response to Indian unprovoked firing on line of control and confronting sinister propaganda are parts of a three-front war for Pakistan and its security forces.

Recent acts of terrorism across the country are a source of concern for us all, but the prompt response of security forces at Karachi police headquarters is a sigh of relief that the hard-earned experience in anti-terrorist operations during previous years in combating terrorism is now paying dividends.

No Army in the world matches the unparalleled achievements of the Pakistan Army, which has proved its mettle in conventional war, counter-terrorism operations and maintaining minimum credible deterrence in unconventional capability to protect its motherland. These achievements have come through superior training, foresightedness of leadership, planning, operational preparedness, motivation and a lot of sacrifices of our valiant officers and men, to defend the motherland at all costs. Let us see, how it happened.

The US invasion of Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 and subsequent policies adopted during the prolonged war, despite all the constraints, and achievements by security forces in negotiating threats to the state, speaks volumes about the Pakistan military’s genius.

The exclusion of Pakistan from the grey list of FATF is a testimony to its commitment to fighting against terrorism.

Indian policies in the region, its hegemonic posturing and its quest to overshadow Pakistan have been consistent. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India stands fourth in the world with US$ 76.6 Billion in military expenditures, which amounts to twice the national budget of Pakistan (US$ 47 Billion). While India strives to play a global role because of its size and power and wants vigorous participation in the resolution of all regional issues, Pakistan contests the hegemonic designs of India and excels to have independent and bilateral relations with regional as well as global powers. Indian involvement in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and collaboration with other regional powers to destabilize the region further raises concern for Pakistan for its security needs.

Since the last two decades or so, Pakistan faces a new dimension of threat: “terrorism.” The threat has its linkages abroad. Rising security threats demanded a different and holistic approach. Over the past years, a significant decline has been observed in Pakistan’s defence spending and now, it stands at its lowest level of 2.2 per cent of GDP. Pakistan, being the seventh largest military power, is ranked at the 29th position with the lowest defence expenditure. Pakistan’s military expenses on its soldiers are the lowest compared with other best armies of the world. The US spends $392,000 per soldier, Saudi Arabia $371,000, India $42,000, Iran $23,000 and Pakistan $12,500 per soldier. Pakistan Army, with minimum essential expenditure, guarantees optimal operational preparedness and readiness.

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and after initial success, engaged itself in Iraq. Fighting in two theatres, which were distant apart, was a strategic miscalculation. The time lost in Afghanistan could not be reclaimed. Craig Withlock interviewed a lot of allied forces and US military commanders for his book “The Afghanistan Papers; a secret history of the war.” He writes that the war in Afghanistan was nothing but a lot of misjudgments and miscalculations by the US political and military commanders.

Vali Nasr, Professor at John Hopkins University, in his book “The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat,” says that he had based his writing on the advice of Pakistan Army’s senior leadership to the US–to negotiate the exit with Taliban. The book mentions that Pakistan Army officials, during a visit to Washington in 2010, suggested to their counterparts that they would be “better off” negotiating an exit from Afghanistan with the Taliban, instead of trying to build up Afghan forces to 400,000 by 2014. Pakistan Army had strategized its war against terrorism on this side of the porous Pak-Afghan border. Though Pakistan Army was trained to fight conventional war, they never hesitated to learn and fight low-intensity conflict. The only Army in the world, which was fighting enemies on two fronts: the eastern border with India and the western border against terrorists. Pakistan Army fought the war against terrorism befittingly and sacrificed more than any country in the world.

Introduction of a new training module to fight low-intensity conflict, the merger of FATA with Pakistan and development of areas close to the Pak-Afghan border, a national action plan to eliminate extremism and terrorism, fencing of 2400 KM Pak-Afghan porous border, taking terrorists head-on in their hideouts and in sleeper cells in built-up areas are some of the measures taken by Pakistani security forces to overcome the menace of terrorism. Continuity of the fight against terrorism with a deliberated strategy was the main success. They started by launching an operation in Swat in the first half of 2009 and cleansed the area of terrorists. Gradually operations extended successfully to, Bajur, Khyber, Mohmand, South Waziristan, and North Waziristan. Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched followed by Radd-ul-Fasaad and carried out a surge against terrorists through intelligence-based operations.

Meanwhile, when Pakistan was fighting, as a frontline partner with the US, in the fight against terrorism, India was all along playing a double game to destabilize Pakistan by supporting terrorist networks in Afghanistan and engaging Pakistan on the line of control to divert the attention of Pakistani security forces from the war against terrorism and also continued to propagate against Pakistan in world media.

The disclosure of Indian Chronicles by EUDisInfoLab in Dec 2020, a propaganda operation against Pakistan by India, which began in 2005 and is still ongoing, is a reflection of Indian nefarious designs against peace and prosperity of the region. Pakistan was all along committed to and is still concentrating on fighting terrorists and their sympathizers. Today, Pakistan stands tall in the comity of nations for its just stand and whole-hearted fight against terrorism. The exclusion of Pakistan from the grey list of FATF is a testimony to its commitment to fighting against terrorism. To pursue its agenda of economic prosperity, at this point, a whole, national approach is required to fight the traditional and non-traditional security threats. Only a consensus among the political elite can achieve the objective of a safe and prosperous Pakistan.

The writer is PhD in International Relations from QAU and can be reached at