Defence

It took Pakistan three defeats to understand the flaw in its war strategy against India

By The Print

At its inaugural meeting on 5 and 6 September 1947, the Pakistan Defence Council, headed by the Prime Minister and minister of defence, Liaquat Ali Khan, outlined both the internal and external functions of the Pakistani army.

The first function was to support the civil-political authorities in the tribal region while ensuring that there were no tribal incursions into the hinterland. The second function — external role — was defined in the anachronistic British imperial defence terms: to prevent aggression by a minor power, while preparing to defend against a major power.

In 1947, the Pakistan Army’s war strategists developed a combat doctrine, called The Riposte. It featured a strategy of ‘offensive-defense’. The strategists had served in the victorious British Army of the Second World War. And later, the swagger of the American ethos crept into the doctrine, leading to a concept, which concluded that only an offensive approach could bring victory.

A strong offensive was the overriding strategy in 1965 — India was seen as a minor power. Till 1986, ‘offensive’ remained Pakistan Army’s major strategic concept.

The western influence

In the early years of Partition of the sub-continent, the United States pressured India to join the anti-Communist pact as part of the Truman Doctrine, initiated in March 1947 for the purpose of containing Soviet geopolitical expansion. But India was resolute in its non-alignment philosophy. So the US turned to Pakistan, which readily accepted the proposal.

Immediately after Independence, Muhammad Ali Jinnah asked the US to provide some $2 billion in military and civilian aid to Pakistan, making the US potentially the largest donor for the fledgling economy. Between 1950 and 1954, the US funded the raising of five-and-a-half divisions, also referred to as the 51/2 Division Plan. (Crossed Swords: Pakistan its army and the wars within by Shuja Nawaz, Oxford University Press 2008. page 94)

Pakistan has historically been among the top recipients of US aid with the country receiving $30 billion in direct funding till 2011. Nearly 50 per cent of this has been for military assistance.

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