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Pakistan Sovereignty and Victimhood

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Recent article Pakistan, Victim of Terrorism?” in WSJ by Mr. Sadanand Dhume has rebutted Pakistani media and BACWAS (bureaucrats, army, clerics, warlords and scholars) establishment’s contentions that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. The first Afghan war (1979 – 89) against Soviets was sponsored by the US, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab nations. Mr. Dhume acknowledged that it turned Pakistan in to a magnet for would-be jihadist from across the globe. Many innocent Pakistanis have lost lives over last 30+ years as reckless behavior of Pakistan created a mess in the Af-Pak region after America withdrew support in 1990.

Mr. Dhume added that from the outset, Islamabad cleverly hijacked the anti-Soviet jihad and ensured that its favorites — such as the murderous Gulbuddin Hekmatyar — received the lion’s share of American arms and money. After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Pakistan army’s spy wing, continued to use jihadist proxies in pursuit of “strategic depth” in Afghanistan while opening a second front in Indian Kashmir.

In recent years, Islamabad has failed to act against the Haqqani Network targeting NATO troops in Afghanistan, or against Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. LeT founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who recently led special prayers in Lahore mourning bin Laden, is widely regarded as a public figure above the law. To put it bluntly, Pakistan is a victim of terrorism the way Enron was a victim of poor accounting standards.

Another often mentioned Pakistani contention is that it is a sovereign nation free to manage its internal security and employ its proxy jihadi terrorist – Taliban and ISI operatives co-linked to al Qaeda – to pursue strategic depths in South Asia. The blog addresses the issue by citing data published by some credible Pakistani Op-ed writers. Under references and notes it also cites data comparing air power of Pakistan to that of India. Globally, Pakistan ranks sixth, India is at fourth and America is at first place in air power.

Pakistan allows or tolerates the Taliban and other jihadi groups involved in harmful activities against many nations. Afghanistan, the US, India and parts of European nations during the first decade of 21st century has been targeted by the terrorists enjoying safe heavens within Pakistan. All the violent suicide bombings of a decade of 21st century in the world were by terrorists nabbed from Pakistan. Pakistan may boast about having handed over these criminals to the world but why were these terrorists found in Pakistan, instead of war-torn Afghanistan?

For its part in global jihad relative to its resources Pakistan has paid a heavy price. Pakistan’s 180 million population is 60% that of America. Pakistan’s GDP (PPP adjusted) is about 3% that of America; roughly $0.45 trillion for Pakistan and $15 trillion for America. Economically Pakistan rank is 47th in the world and America is in first place. Pakistani losses in men and materials if judged against this background show that Pakistan has and continues to pay a very heavy price for its part in terrorism.

A distraught Pakistani commented on the death of al Qaeda leader OBL (Osama bin Laden) at a compound near Kakul Military School in Abbottabad, about 40 miles from Islamabad. Pakistani sentiments were more towards anxiety and apprehension coupled with confusion over the implications of the event taking place right in the center of the country. It acknowledged that the jihad has tattered Pakistan’s economy and its leadership is weak and corrupt. The costs for Pakistan were listed as $68 billion on the war on terror and loss of 35,000 human lives. It estimated that Pakistan spent 80 percent of national budget on defense and debt servicing for aid taken to fund the war.

It did not mention that in Pakistan sectarian and religious killings are almost every day occurrences. Thirty-five hundred soldiers lost lives and remaining 32,000 human losses are a result of ongoing sectarian and religious wars killings by more than 2 dozen jihadi outfits that have waged feudal and tribal wars against Sunnis, Shias and minorities including Christians and Hindus.

Pakistanis in general fail to acknowledge that in the recognition of a country’s sovereignty, along with some rights world expect Pakistan to adhere to associated responsibilities. The obvious right of every sovereign country is that no one can enter its land, air or waters without its permission. The responsibility of a nation is that it should not let its territory be used against any other sovereign country. For more than 30 years (1979 to present) Pakistan has failed to conform to international norms related to a sovereign nation.

Many countries of the world — Cuba, Venezuela and many others — that have adversarial relations with the US safeguard their sovereignty according to the international standards by not letting their soil be used for harming other nations.

Pakistan for 40 years has not only failed to observe the international standards of sovereignty by harboring and providing training to jihadi terrorists but as a rentier state allowed the US bases on its territory to conduct drone attacks as well as passing through its territory up to 80% of supplies for American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Most of the American and NATO causalities in Afghanistan are at the hands of terrorists – Taliban and Haqqani networks based in Pakistan. Pakistan publicly demands of America that the US stop drone attacks and forget about Mullah Omar, Ayman al-Zawahiri, or Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani. Ignoring repeated requests and occasional demands from other nations including the US and India Pakistan has failed to amend its ways to put an end to jihad waged from its territory. It has also failed to assure the world that it can cleanse its territory of religious crusaders dominated by Taliban and ISI co-linked to al Qaeda. Under these circumstances why should the world respect Pakistan’s sovereignty?

Pakistan continues to ignore that in taking on the US and NATO as well as some other nations in the world it is trying to box above its weight. For example, Dr. Farrukh Saleem offered data to show that it is no accident that Pakistan failed to detect and prevent the US operation. Contrary to the PR bravado, the BACWAS establishment knows or should know that Pakistan has neither the resources nor the technology to stop the US from entering or exiting its airspace. Pakistan’s defense budget of $5 billion is 0.66% that of America at $750 billion and about 25% that of India.

Pakistan according to Dr. Saleem is severely short on air defense systems. He added, “Our most effective man-portable air defense systems include FIM-92 Stinger and FIM-43 Redeye, both from the US. Our medium-altitude air defense systems are Swedish. Our high-altitude air defense systems include Russian HQ-2B SAM, which first went into service in 1957. Our Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannons were developed in the late 50s. Our Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft auto-cannons first went into service in 1934. PAF got 49 F-16s in 1983, 14 in 2009 and 18 the following year.”

Dr Saleem continued, “USS Carl Vinson, US Navy’s Nimitz class super carrier, with 2 A4W nuclear reactors, parked off the coast of Karachi, has at least 90 fixed wing aircraft including F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. And, these Super Hornets carry a nose mounted Gatling gun, air-to-air Sidewinder missiles, air-to-surface Maverick missiles, anti-ship Harpoon missiles, laser guided bombs and precision-guided munitions.”

The OBL killing represents beginning of the end game to eliminate what Pakistan considers its strategic assets for proxy wars. It is a first step initiated by US for a transition from engagement to containment of Pakistan. Pakistan may be increasingly isolated as NATO and US continue to gather actionable intelligence to eliminate more high value terrorist leaders including Mullah Omar of Quetta Shura, Dr. Ayman al Zawahri and other al Qaeda leaders hiding in Waziristan mountain ranges, Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani operating from North Waziristan and other Taliban networks, including Lashkar-e-Taliban, etc.

Breaking News, May 19, 2011, “China  will immediately provide 50 JF-17 Thunder aircraft to Pakistan. With the supply of the new fighters, Pakistan Air Force will now have a total of 250 Chinese jets, making them the mainstay of the force.”  China and Pakistan began developing the relatively cheap multipurpose fighter in 1999 and Pakistan, which has said it wants 250 of them altogether, inducted its first squadron of JF-17s last year, and a second earlier this year.

References and notes:

  1. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ Op-ed (May 18).
  2. Farrukh Saleem, The News Op-ed ( May 16) at
  3. Pakistan Air Force (  is world’s sixth largest air force with approximately 65,000 personnel and  nearly 800+ manned aircraft.
  4. Comparison of Indian and Pakistani Air Forces ( and
  5. Pakistan Air Force has about 65,000 active personnel with 530 combat air crafts operating out of 9 irbuses. Its strike  fighters consist of US, Chinese and French fighters like F-10 Fighting  Falcon IF-17 thunder and Dassault Mirage. It has also transport aircraft air crafts like Lockheed Martin C-130 and Airbus A 310. However there are no UAVs or reconnaissance air crafts in Pakistan Air Force.
  6. Pakistan Air Force has 630 aircraft, which include 530 combat aircraft, with 400 operational at any time.
  7. Pakistan Air Force has 200 rebuilt Mirage- 3’s (for night air defense) and Mirage-5’s for the strike role. They can carry nuclear weapons. They have been upgraded with new weapon systems, radars  and avionics. Additionally the PAF has 42 F-16’s, 150 F-7’s including 55 latest F-7 PG’s. Manufacture of 150 JF 17 Thunder fighters (jointly designed) is underway at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra. The JF -17
    Thunder is a 4th generation fly by wire multi-role fighter aircraft. Eight are already in PAF service. An order has been placed with China  for the purchase of 36 JF-10, a Mach 2.3 -5th generation multi-role  fighter, comparable in performance to the Su-30 Mk-1 with the Indian Air  Force.
  8. Indian Air Force has 3,000 aircraft including  training, transport, helicopters and 800-1000 combat air craft, which operate from sixty air bases, including Farkhor airbase in Tajikistan.. Six hundred IAF’s strike and air defense fighters are expected to be operational.
  9. Indian Air Force has over 170,000 personnel and 3,382 air crafts of which 1,330 are combat air crafts operating off 61 airbuses—making it the fourth largest air force in the global world. India has French and Russian air crafts like Mikoyan MIC-29, Dassault Mirage 2000, Sukhoi Su-30-the last one developed under dual licensing by HAL.
  10. IAF’s advanced strike and combat aircraft are: 51 Mirage-2000 (of Kargil fame), 60 Mig-29’s (for air  defense), 250 old Mig-21’s (110 have been refurbished with Israeli help), 47 Jaguars and 70 Mig-27’s for ground attack. 220 LCA Teja’s under manufacture at HAL Bangalore will start entering service in 2010…
  11. In 1996 India signed an agreement with Russia  for the purchase of 90 Su 30 Mk-1 multi-role fighter-bombers. In 2004 a multi-billion licence was signed for building additional 140. 240 Su30-Mk-1’s were ordered, 120 are already in service. With a maximum speed of Mach 2.3 and range of 8,000 Km with refueling and ability to carry tons of conventional munitions and nuclear weapons. It is a lethal and menacing weapon system for the strike and interception role.
  12. IAF’s fighter pilots are well trained and have out shone American pilots during joint exercises.
  13. Pakistan promoted itself as a frontline state and over the years (1979 – present)  it is has been reduced to a rentier state. Kishan Bhatia, SAAG Paper no. 3130 at
  14. Mohammad Waseem, “Time to revamp foreign policy”
  15. Waseem observed, “There was a role for Pakistan in three triangles: US- Pakistan-China, China-Pakistan-India and US-Pakistan-India. Over time, Pakistan lost its crucial role in all the three triangles, as the other two protagonists in each triangle opened up to one another by way of trade, diplomacy or strategic relations.
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