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EagleEyes

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Pakistan denies reports of Indian soldiers crossing LoC

B. Muralidhar Reddy

"Our fighting bunkers are intact because their construction is very robust"

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan on Thursday denied reports that Indian soldiers crossed the Line of Control to help to repair one of its army bunkers in the wake of the October 8 earthquake.

The media reports "are fabricated, baseless and untrue," Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations Shaukat Sultan said. There is "no question" of such a possibility. "Our fighting bunkers are completely intact because their construction is very robust."

Maj. Gen. Sultan also refuted media reports expressing concern over the safety of Pakistan's nuclear installations. They were robust and shockproof. An earthquake or even a direct bomb attack cannot cause them any harm. "Such reports are being spread by those who don't have any knowledge about such matters."

Commenting on the issue, a diplomat said: "I fail to understand why the Indian side should publicise it even if its soldiers responded to distress calls from the Pakistani side. Obviously, the Pakistanis cannot be expected to confirm such reports even if they were true, particularly when the matter involves their troops. This kind of scoring a point in such a situation is meaningless."

Meanwhile, the official death toll in the earthquake has risen to more than 25,000. The number of injured was put at 63,000.

Islamabad, Peshawar, Abbotabad, Lahore, Malikwal, Gujaranwala, Swat and Mansehra were jolted by fresh aftershocks, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale, in the early hours of Thursday. The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicentre was in the northern areas, about 135 km from Islamabad.

The Pakistan Met office said the jolts were "normal" and there was no cause for concern.
 

EagleEyes

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DEFENDING PAKISTAN

This is a research paper by Syed M AMIR HUSAIN detailing the military threat Pakistan is faced with and how Pakistan can combat it given economic and political constraints. It is also argued that the small but assertive group of people who are trying to rally support to 'tie down' the Pakistani military establishment are doing so at great risk to the country.

Introduction

In the last decade, not many positive changes have occurred for the Pakistan military vis-a-vis equipment acquisitions. For the first time we are faced with a situation in which not one, but all possible parties from which we can acquire weapon systems of choice, have decided not to do business with us. In most instances, such as those of the French company Dassault and the Russian bureau Sukhoi, this is because the same arms dealers have negotiated contracts with our neighbour and military rival in the east. These contracts will undoubtedly suffer should Pakistan be supplied weaponry by the same parties. The question is how can Pakistan combat the threat in the east, and possibly other threats that could plausibly arise in the next two decades? The answer to this question can be given in many ways; defence acquisitions, diplomacy, changing political alignment etc. are all possible solutions. For instance, one 'solution' could be for Pakistan to unilaterally sign the NPT and open its sensitive nuclear sites for IAEA inspectors. In essence this implies a complete surrender before the powers that be in an effort to obtain guarantees and assurances of protection from them. As morally bankrupt and disloyal to the country as such a suggestion may sound it has unfortunately been made by some 'Pakistanis' in the past. My concern in this paper is to demonstrate that such advice is not only ridiculous, but will destroy the morale of the Pakistani nation by leading to another 1971- like situation. Additionally, this paper will analyze the major threats Pakistan is faced with and will hopefully demonstrate how, given Pakistan's financial and other constraints, we can maintain a credible defence and perhaps a comfortable edge over potential aggressors.

History exposes
flawed logic

In the 50's Pakistan chose to ally itself with the Western Bloc by signing the Baghdad pact. At the time, Liaquat Ali Khan's visit to the United States was still fresh in the memories of most Pakistanis. The cruelty that accompanied Stalin's rule in the USSR was also not far in the past, making an alliance with the Soviet Union a hard sell to the Pakistani people. Also, perhaps, the inherent conflict between an Islamic and Atheist society caused Pakistan to be more naturally inclined toward the Christian west. Though these are far from a complete list of reasons for Pakistan's eventual decision, which unfortunately includes more than a few instances of our leaders selling out to capitalist lures, yet the complex background of this alignment is not our primary concern. It would serve the reader well to refer to a text such as Agha Shahi's 'Pakistan's Foreign Policy' [1] for further investigation into Pakistan's alignment with the United States-led Western coalition.

Pakistan, though enthusiastic about its new alliance with the US, saw itself as a potential target for Soviet assisted aggression. Given a Soviet ally and sworn enemy many times its size in the east, Pakistan requested its new American friends for military equipment that would guarantee peace in the region and ensure Pakistan's security. A list of the most important component of that requirement was submitted by the Pakistan Air Force on March 1, 1954. The requirement[2] was as follows:

10 Fighter sq. x 16 ac = 160
5 Night fighter sq. x 16 ac = 80
5 Light bomber sq. x 20 ac = 100
1 PR Light bomber sq. x 20 ac = 20
12 Fighter /recce. sq. x 20 ac = 240
2 twin engine
transport sq. x 20 ac = 40
1 4 engine transport sq. x 16 ac = 16
2 Maritime recce. sq. x 20 ac = 40
Total of 696 aircraft.

Viewing this requirement in the context of a likely war scenario with India, which had unlimited access to the latest Soviet weaponry, it does not appear very unreasonable. Pakistan had the unenviable task of defending two wings of the country separated by thousands of miles, and also an extensive coastline. As against this request, Pakistan was given a mere 112 combat aircraft along with 50 non-combat planes, giving a total of only 162. This was a gross under-arming of the PAF. Though Pakistan did not create a diplomatic rumpus over this insult, a decade later in 1965, the US proved that not only was it unwilling to release quantities of arms to ensure peace, it was also an incredibly unreliable supplier in times of war. An embargo was imposed on Pakistan during the war. Russia on the other hand was so quick in re-arming India that the squadron of Mig-21s destroyed at Pathankot[3] was replaced either during, or immediately after the 1965 war. Though the war was over in a matter of a few weeks, the embargo lasted over a decade and even Indian defence analysts unanimously agree that the PAF's starved squadrons were unable to change the course of the 1971 war due to lack of equipment[2].

More recent examples of American indifference to our strategic situation are the Pressler Amendment, which singles out and victimizes Pakistan. This amendment has also resulted in what can only be called the theft of $658 million of Pakistan's foreign currency that was paid for the release of 28 F-16 aircraft from the US.

We are confronted with an enemy five times larger than ourselves, and are faced with multi-dimensional threats from the east, south and in a limited fashion, even from Afghanistan in the west. In light of this, the pointed US policy of not only holding back on deliveries of military equipment Pakistan has paid for, but also pressurizing other nations such as France, Sweden and China to desist from dealing with Pakistan should only underline the US negative role vis-a-vis Pakistan more clearly.

Many readers would perhaps question my assertions that the US has not helped Pakistan in building a credible defence by claiming that the US is not responsible for the achievement of our strategic objectives. Yes, this is true and exactly my point. The US, nor any other nation is responsible for the defence of Pakistan. Not only this, but other nations, including the US, India and Israel will even go out of their way to harm our interests because we have conflicting policies and mutually irreconcilable goals. Thus by asking our military to stand down and declare a unilateral unconditional 'peace', certain elements are not only refusing to learn from history but are also creating confusion within Pakistan and are unknowingly or otherwise, serving the interests of those by whom we are threatened. Peace will not be won if Pakistan disarms, we will only be bullied further and lose what semblance of respectability we can lay claim to. This is too high a price to pay and certainly a hodge-podge of self styled 'peace' lovers do not have any right to ask the Pakistani people to pay such a cost. Neither do they have any right to undermine our defence by lobbying with questionable elements within the Pakistani establishment.

The Military Threat

Pakistan is situated at the intersection of three geo-political regions, and consequently, in extremely unstable surroundings. There is no questioning the historical truism that a credible defence ensures stability. There is no alternative to being able to defend yourself - not a strong industrial economy, or very high literacy rates. These are extremely important areas that should not take a back seat to other equally important areas such as defence, but the opposite should also hold. Of those who say that in the next century economic power will be the most potent weapon it could be asked, why is it that the US continues to maintain an army of 2 million and a nuclear arsenal large enough to blow up the earth several times over[4] if all it requires is a strong economy? Why is it that despite Japan having a trade balance in its favour of billions of US dollars[5], it still has to give in to the arm twisting of its 'junior economic partner'? The answer is that the power of nations is based on one key resource, their militaries, and all other manifestations of national power are derived from this most fundamental one.

To our east lies India, a country with 7 times our population, nearly 4 times our land mass and a military almost 3 times the size of ours. In addition, it has fought 4 wars with us, one of which still rages on in the highest battlefield of the world - Siachen. It is a demonstrated nuclear power with publicly declared designs of globally projecting its power - be it through a blue water fleet based around aircraft carriers or through ICBMs such as Surya, with a range of 14,000km. Perhaps the reader does not need to be reminded that it was this same India which was responsible for fuelling Bengali dissent and arming Mukti Bahini terrorists. Through these acts of subversion, it contributed to the break up of Pakistan. Despite India's more than significant links with international terrorism (Kashmir,

Sikkim, Sri Lanka, Sindh and Punjab), the west views India as a market second only to China and is thus willing to pay almost any price to remain on friendly terms with it[6].

Since it is beyond the scope of this paper to concentrate on every aspect of the Indian threat, which includes intelligence activities, subversion, terrorism, propaganda and a conventional tactical threat from the Indian army, I will instead focus on Indian strategic weaponry to highlight the multi-dimensional nature of the Indian threat.

Indian Air Force

The recent Gulf War has shown that the outcome of any future conflict will rest heavily on control of the skies and the ability to deny the enemy of the same. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is the 4th largest in the world and growing rapidly. It justifies its size by pointing to the Chinese PLAAF (Peoples Liberation Army Air Force). This is an old ploy to avoid being chastised by other nations on what is really a build-up to ensure regional hegemony. Indeed, in the 1962 Indo-China conflict, India had assured her Canadian and US allies that 'donated' military equipment would only be used against Communist China. It took her only 3 years to do an about-turn on this undertaking by using the same equipment against Pakistan during the 1965 war over Kashmir.

The Indian Air Force consists of nearly 1000 aircraft. Of these, nearly 770 are front line fighters whereas 140 are second line fighters and combat capable trainers[2]. Among its ranks the IAF contains 40 Mirage 2000-5 aircraft, 40 SU-30MKI aircraft[7], 93 Mig-29 interceptors and 88 Anglo-French Jaguar deep-strike attack aircraft. Especially with the recent acquisition of the SU-30MKIs, the IAF has at least on paper, tremendously improved its qualitative standing. With the force listed above, the IAF is capable of using the latest 'smart' weaponry, stand-off weapons, extremely long range air-to-air missiles such as the AA-10 Alamo[8] and countless other lethal stores. It is also capable of delivering NBC (Nuclear Biological or Chemical) weapons deep inside Pakistani territory, though this is a role for which it will most likely not be used given its long-range missile holdings.

Qualitative enhancements in IAF aircraft include 'BVR' or Beyond Visual Range capability. This allows a fighter pilot to track, lock and destroy a target while it is far away. The IAF has recently acquired AA-10 Alamo missiles which will allow such attacks to be made against Pakistani aircraft at a range of more than 100km. This greatly reduces the chances of aerial combat coming down to dogfights, where pilot's skill is the deciding factor and an area in which the Pakistan Air Force undeniably has the qualitative edge. All SU-30MKIs and Mig-29s have BVR capability whereas currently no aircraft in the PAF inventory does. In addition, the longest-range air-to-air missiles in the Pakistan Air Force is the AIM-7 Sparrow which has barely 1/3rd the range of an Alamo[9].

Clearly, with only 32 F-16 aircraft and a combat strength of a little over 400 fighter aircraft, the PAF is again facing a 1971 like situation of being grossly under-armed. The PAF does have an edge in that it is able to fly most aircraft in the Indian inventory due to its alliances with many Muslim Air Forces which possess Russian and French aircraft. However, defence planners should not count on superior PAF pilot skill to overwhelm an air force two and a half times PAF's size. The war of September 1965 can be cited as an example when this actually happened, but it is hardly prudent to plan for the future based on 34-year-old laurels.

Indian Missile Forces

In the development and deployment of missiles, with Russian and French assistance, India has made tremendous headway. It has the demonstrated capability to launch satellites into orbit[10] and is thus de-facto, in possession of a potential ICBM with a range of greater than 15,000km. Though these designs are, and should be, alarming for all countries in the region, for Pakistan the Prithvi and Agni missile programs present a greater danger. Prithvi has been labeled to be Pakistan specific by several Pakistani leaders[11]. It is an MRBM with a range of 300km and a CEP (circular error probability) of 250m. It is capable of delivering an NBC or conventional warhead of up to 500kg. This missile allows India to target Pakistan's capital city and most of the defence establishments in close proximity thereof. Last year, a minor crisis was sparked when news of Prithvi's deployment on the Pakistani border was leaked in the US press. Recently, the Indian Army has deployed up to 38 Prithvi missiles and is yet to receive an additional batch of 62 missiles against its order of 100 missiles[12]. Once this order is met, the Indian Air Force will deploy additional missiles and a navalised version of the Prithvi is rumoured to be in development. It is disturbing to imagine what India intends to accomplish with such a large force of nuclear capable SSMs.

Given Pakistan's lack of strategic depth, it is reported[13] that in the event of an Indian missile strike, Pakistan would have but 3 minutes worth of warning time. Clearly this is much less time than the 15 minutes PADS (Pakistan Air Defence System) provides in case of an attack by enemy aircraft[14]. The short time of missiles to target implies that fixed assets such as air bases, nuclear installations and weapon factories whose defence has been modeled on the assumption of a conventional air attack, will have to be protected with the missile threat in mind. Given the fact that there are a total of 10 PAF forward air bases and 9 additional combat capable air bases versus 100 such bases in India, it follows that to keep the enemy on the defensive, the Pakistan armed forces require similar or better strike capability against such targets. Also, early warning for Pakistan is becoming more and more crucial. Of course, the ideal solution of obtaining a number of AWACS (E3-A Sentry) aircraft from the US has been ruled out due to immediate hindrances such as the Pressler amendment as well as the US's long term untrustworthiness as a supplier of military equipment. There are still however, a few options available to the Pakistani military which are highlighted in the following sections of this paper.
 

EagleEyes

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Dear Readers, Stop Press

As we were going into print, Indians exploded a series of nuclear devices on May 11 and 13, 1998. While it is too late to study the whole aspect in this issue, the next one will be devoted to the Bomb. In the meantime I am reproducing my article KEEPING ONE'S COOL from THE NATION as a food for thought. While restraint is advisable, Indians have escalated matters so that we may have no choice but to reluctantly go quid pro quo and explode a nuclear device.

India carried out two more controlled explosions on May 13, 1998 to add to the three already done on May 11. In the face of severely adverse world opinion, it seems the Indians have gone berserk - or is there more to their madness than meets the eye? For the record, the later two blasts, which were low kiloton yield nuclear devices, perhaps to carry out battlefield stimulation of a fusion trigger device for the larger thermo-nuclear bomb, were a defiant kick in the teeth for international opinion. A spate of condemnation followed including sanctions by US and Japan as well as the cancellation of aids and grants by Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Germany, Sweden, etc. Notably the European Union (EU) countries resigned themselves to criticizing the Indians but did not follow the 'sanctions' route. The Indians miscalculated the depth of international reaction but by managing to keep EU out of the sanctions mode they broke the dam and contained immediate irretrievable damage.

Mian Nawaz Sharif's government is under pressure domestically to carry out a nuclear explosion. A wide ranging coalition including politicians, retired bureaucrats, intellectuals, columnists, etc is strongly advising the Pakistan Government to go head to head with India. What is more compelling is the attitude of the man in the street, he wants a Pakistani bomb to explode. They have very cogent arguments in their favour. Pakistan exists in a very dangerous region of the world. Other than the wars in the immediate proximity, the Iran-Iraq conflict and the continuing Afghan War as well as the Khalistan Movement (Indian Punjab) and Kashmir, we have an implacable foe with a numerical superiority ratio of 4:1 (and even 5:1 in some areas) with respect to conventional forces (given that a favourable military attack ratio is 3:1). The BJP manifesto spoke about the nuclear arming of India, they are well on their way, the manifesto is also clear on seizing from Pakistan the part of Kashmir not occupied by them already. Now with the nuclear sword in hand, they can very well atomic-blitz Pakistan if we risk all-out war over Kashmir. More than the logical reasons is the psychological one, Pakistani mass opinion demands equal manhood with India and that is, if they can explode a bomb, why can't we? There is also the question of 'mutually assured deterrence' (MAD). There is always the possibility that if we do not explode the bomb the Indians will assume we are bluffing and therefore gamble with trying to accomplish the other cornerstone of their manifesto, knowing that they may come off better in a conventional war given the acute military disparities. The Indians will certainly suffer enormous losses without much gain on the ground, are they prepared for that amount of collateral damage in men and material? The fact that the BJP leaders took on the world in the nuclear blasts - and their newly elected leader Thakre is vocal about Kashmir - should make us apprehensive about their intentions. A nuclear blast by us will not be a display of show of force but perversely will be a logical outcome of caution on our part. That may be the only way to warn India against the consequence of adventurism.

The world presently wants us to roll over and play dead, to accept India's hegemony in the region, to behave like the other SAARC Countries and stay in line with Indian tutelage. For that they may be proposing to give us some guarantees and some economic/military sops. In the 1980s we lost a golden opportunity to economically/militarily reach emancipation. As the front line State for the West in their proxy war in Afghanistan, Pakistan did not get any of the recurring and residual economic and military benefits that countries like Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, etc got from the US during the height of the Viet Nam War. Prepared to go any lengths in the proxy year, the US quickly discovered that our leaders had a low personal price, their penchant was for filling their own pockets or receiving favours, than for negotiating a better deal for Pakistan. Some of the riches on display by a retired general's sons of that era have no other origin but were funds meant for Pakistan and the Afghan War being pilfered/diverted into private coffers. For a few pennies, our leaders sold our short-term and long-term interests down the river.

The choices before us before we explode the bomb are very clear, either we accept to live as virtual slaves like the rest of South Asia or the west can take concrete steps to not only assuage our fears but to give us the capability to defend ourselves. The initial steps have already been taken by some of the western countries, imposing economic sanctions, the main prop of which is suspending aid and grants particularly US/Japan support for loans by international landing institutions. Already the EU, led by UK, has shown it is not even prepared to go that far. However, if US and Japan would impose trade sanctions on India this would make a considerable difference because they are India's largest trading partners. Firstly it would hurt India more economically and secondly we could derive some benefit from trade (and investment) diversions. However, even though an official US spokesman has gone so far as to condemn Indian leaders for their duplicity (a fact we have been repeating ad nauseam over the years), in the long run these sanctions will most probably be shrugged off by India.

What happens if we explode the bomb? Other than a few days of euphoria, it does send a message to the Indians, that our potential is not bluff and that they should be prepared for the consequences in collateral damage. Whether one bullet kills you or a dozen, once you are dead you tend to remain dead. We may be a smaller country and India may have more bombs, the devastation will be mutually horrifying and devastating. That more than any other reason may deter BJP from adventurism. However, if we do explode the bomb, for which the BJP and every other Indian must be praying for invoking all their various gods, it will take the Indians off the hook. The Indians will never be blamed for passing on nuclear secrets but we shall be accused for giving away this knowledge to Iran, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, etc - anyone that the west labels as 'terrorist friendly' states. The world's anger will well up against us and we will be vilified from pillar to post. The EU nations, which are treating India with kid gloves because it is a vast industrial and consumer market, will turn on us like a pack of wolves. The economic sanctions that the world imposes on us will be more akin to the economic quarantine of Iraq presently - since we do not have the benefit of oil it will hit us far more badly. We will eventually become economically so weak we will not be able to maintain even a weak deterrent force - India thus could walk over us at will! For a few days of chest - beating and a rather stretched logic as regards deterrence, are we prepared to eat grass - and eventually humble pie?

The government must be commended on its rather sophisticated and patient handling of the situation uptil now. The west is alternately showing us carrot and stick, let's test this potency by clearly spelling out that there is a cost price to restraint and it must include a comprehensive package, foremost by giving us the means to conventionally defend ourselves against India. That while we will not go ahead and explode the bomb, the guarantee of a nuclear umbrella by the west can only be counter- guaranteed by our own ability to have and to use nuclear weapons if the west deserts us in our hour of need. Not only sanctions against India must be made more effective but we should be shored up economically and militarily. Like Egypt and Turkey and other countries, our debt must be written off and we should beef up our conventional forces, particularly airpower. We must have focussed western investment in infra-structure such as roads, railways, telecommunications and ports, similarly like Egypt and Turkey we must get indigenous armament manufacturing capacity as required by us. Above all, the world must put pressure on India to solve the Kashmir problem. If the economic sanctions are effective, the brunt of the misery that ensues will be borne by the masses. The language of the streets is the only language the BJP leaders will understand - that may make them more amenable to reason over Kashmir.

An economically and militarily strong Pakistan, capable of defending itself in a conventional war and with the option of going nuclear quickly in quid pro quo is the only deterrent India will respect. Before we follow the track of the hawks, we have to evaluate whether the compensation package includes tangible security and economic guarantees and whether an ill-conceived move in exploding the bomb without calculating the risks may not result in our eventual economic extinction. Someone has to negotiate hard to exploit this God-given opportunity the Indian leadership has provided us by their sheer obduracy.
 

EagleEyes

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Army ‘spent first days rebuilding border defences’

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: Officials linked to the Pakistan Army have admitted that some units paid more attention to restoring frontline defences against India after the October 8 earthquake than to rescuing trapped civilians, The Telegraph reported on Sunday.

“With thousands of soldiers stationed close to the disputed border in the Kashmir region – 450 of whom were themselves killed by the quake – civilians who survived the tremor are increasingly angry at the slow response by the army to their plight,” it added.

“Although Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf apologised on television for the delay in helping the worst-affected areas, his remarks have done little to deflect the criticism,” it reported.

The Telegraph quoted a Muzaffarabad resident as saying that they were not only mourning the death of their people, they were also mourning the death of their relationship with the government.

“Ismail Mir, a resident of Bagh, said that when President Musharraf visited the stricken town he went only to the military garrison, where six soldiers had been killed, and did not tour the civilian areas where dozens had died. ‘We tried to reach him, but army officials would not allow us to meet him,’ he said. ‘The major in charge of security told guards to shoot on sight if we tried to enter the garrison,’” it reported.

“Resentment will be increased by the admission of several officials that army units on the Line of Control – the heavily armed border between both Kashmirs – focused on rebuilding their defences rather than helping in nearby villages,” The Telegraph added.

It quoted an insider as saying that although the government knew that India would not attack the country, in the first few days they used every resource to restore its defence line because they never wanted to leave it vulnerable.

“Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan, military spokesman, rejected the criticisms, saying: ‘The people are traumatised and this is all a reaction to the trauma,’” it added.

“However, the apparent failure to respond swiftly to civilian pleas for help is likely to harm the Musharraf government – a fact which will alarm the West, where it is regarded as a crucial ally in the war on terrorism,” it reported.
 

Srirangan

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I would love to hear your views about this. Border defenses or rescue efforts? What would you have done?
 

EagleEyes

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Both are important. India has always kneen to attack Pakistan whenever Pakistan has gotten in trouble (remember the civil war? so called the liberation war?), but this time the situation was different both countries had nukes. So i wouldn't have too much rely on border defences as the war would be highly unlikely, but satellite monitoring should be in the alert situation as many aircraft of the different country will be entering in Pakistan for relief efforts.

Keeping the nuclear technology unknown on one place was possibly the biggest challenge. However, i am sure the positions will be change as soon as relief operation gets completed, and all the countries leave.
 
A

A.Rahman

GUEST
The Himalayas War at the Top Of the World
Fighting at breathtaking altitudes, Indians and Pakistanis are locked in an icy stalemate


Jul. 31, 1989
The blast is startling, and so is the reverberation that echoes like a landslide. But the sound of artillery fire -- the sound of war -- fades quickly in the gigantic stillness of mountain and glacier. Soldiers clad in dirty white snowsuits, their faces burned black by the sun, scramble to put another shell in the 105-mm howitzer and fire again. They are Pakistanis, serving at an outpost 17,200 ft. up on the Baltoro Glacier, just short of a sweeping ridgeline called the Conway Saddle. Their fire is aimed over the ridge at similar positions manned by Indian troops seven miles away on the Siachen Glacier, the longest in the Karakoram mountains. When the weather is clear, the big guns sometimes boom round the clock.

On this day, the other side is not shooting back, so only a handful of Pakistanis man machine guns, to ensure that no Indian reconnaissance helicopter passes unchallenged. Blue sky forms a stunning canvas for the cathedrals of snow-laden mountains topping 20,000 ft., including K2, the world's second highest peak. The Pakistani brigadier who commands the northern sector of the area looks around and says, "This place is beautiful. It was not meant for fighting."

But fighting there is -- and has been for more than five years. The Karakoram fastness of northern Kashmir is an area no men ever inhabited, and only a few had traversed, before Pakistani and Indian troops moved in to wage a bitter conflict, largely out of sight of their own people and the rest of the world. Pakistan and India each deploy several thousand troops in the region. Neither side releases casualty figures, yet hundreds of men have died from combat, weather, altitude and accidents, and thousands have been injured. Says the general commanding the Indian sector: "This is an actual war in every sense of the word. There is no quarter asked and no quarter given."

The paradox is that India and Pakistan are supposedly at peace and that Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto are trying to move from a chilly standoff into a friendlier era. Both say they want to erase what Bhutto calls the "irritant" of the Siachen Glacier problem, and both instructed their negotiators to do so in the most recent round of talks that began last month in Pakistan. When Gandhi and Bhutto met face to face in Islamabad last week, however, they failed to come close to devising a practical solution. Progress has been as thin as the atmosphere in the Karakorams, as the negotiators struggle to settle the central issue: how to divide the disputed mountain area between Pakistan and India.

At stake is national prestige as well as control of Kashmir's northern reaches. Since gaining their independence from Britain in 1947, both countries have wanted the 85,805 sq. mi. of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as their own. In 1949 Pakistan and India signed the so-called Karachi Agreement, which drew a cease-fire line that ended at map coordinate NJ 9842, at the southern foot of the Saltoro Range. The negotiators did not extend the line because there had been no fighting in Kashmir's northernmost reaches, but merely mentioned that the line should continue "thence north to the glaciers." Despite minor adjustments after the 1965 and 1971 India-Pakistan wars, the official boundary still ends at NJ 9842, leaving the Siachen ownership question unresolved.

Almost from the beginning, New Delhi has argued that India is entitled to control all of Kashmir. Islamabad's claim is more complex: besides supporting a 1949 U.N. call for a plebiscite on Kashmir's future, Pakistan has marshaled what it considers proof that it has all along controlled the area from NJ 9842 to the Karakoram Pass on the Chinese border. Islamabad cites circumstantial evidence, like the fact that mountaineering expeditions for years sought Pakistan's permission to enter the region, and its agreement to cede some of the territory to China in 1963.

India was the first to deploy troops on the Siachen Glacier. In April 1984 the Indian army launched Operation Meghdoot (Cloud Messenger), placing forces at two key passes of the Saltoro Range, which runs along the Siachen Glacier's western edge toward the Chinese border. India says it was pre-empting a planned Pakistani move -- a contention Islamabad denies. The Indian advance captured nearly 1,000 sq. mi. of territory claimed by Pakistan; ever since then New Delhi has wanted to establish a formal boundary along that natural divide. The conflict escalated slowly as each side deployed more men, established more outposts, introduced more artillery and rockets. In September 1987 the action peaked, but neither side has been willing to take the next steps, which might involve introducing air power or expanding the conflict to the south.

The only benefit for both sides has been improvement in their capability for high-altitude warfare. Both forces have built all-weather roads that twist up between towering peaks to base camps on the glaciers. Soldiers spend six weeks acclimatizing to the torturous conditions, learning ice climbing and winter survival. From the camps, men fan out to front-line positions in snow-choked mountain passes. They take turns watching for movement on the other side -- and the opportunity to call in artillery.

The rules of engagement are clear-cut on both sides: if there is a target, fire. Thus the battle is largely indirect, as howitzers and mortars lob shells -- mostly inaccurately -- over the ridges. Infantry assaults are rare, mainly because it is so hard for men to move, let alone charge, at such heights and over crevasse-riddled glaciers. At 18,000 ft. and higher, even a fully acclimatized soldier carrying rifle and combat pack can jog only a few yards without losing his breath. "The terrain does not allow much movement," says a Pakistani officer at an outpost on the Baltoro Glacier. "There is a natural limit to this conflict."

The principal causes of casualties are terrain and weather. Never before have men fought for any length of time at such altitudes, breathing air that contains less than half the oxygen at sea level, at temperatures that drop below -43 degrees F, in blinding blizzards that can last days. Both sides admit that 8 out of 10 casualties are caused by the harsh conditions -- including soldiers being swept away in cascades of snow or tumbling into crevasses. Says a Pakistani officer at the northern end of the Saltoro sector: "We are brave. They are brave. And we both face the same enemies: the weather and the altitude."

On those occasions when the antagonists do fight at close range, the results can be fearsome. In a month-long clash ending last May, soldiers battled intensely on a mountain and ridges near the Chumic Glacier. Both sides dispatched men in a furious race to an icy 21,300-ft.-high peak that commanded the area. "The secret in this terrain," says an Indian officer, "is to be the first on top." Seeing that the Indians would in fact get there first, the Pakistanis took a gamble: in howling winds they tied two soldiers to the runners of a helicopter for a seven-minute ride to the peak, not certain whether wind speed and icy temperatures would cause them to freeze to death before they reached their destination. The soldiers survived, landed on the summit and held off about a dozen Indians climbing toward the same spot.

During a month of fighting, the Pakistanis claim six of their men died, while at least 34 Indians were killed; India refuses to release its casualty figures. Though accounts of the struggle differ, it appears that the Indians eventually requested a meeting between the two opposing brigade commanders. After three sessions, both sides pledged to pull back their men, and the Indians agreed to accept two enemy posts that the Pakistanis said had been there all along. It was the first time local commanders had met face to face to sort out a disengagement.

By sitting down with each other, the two commanders were clearly acting in the spirit their Prime Ministers want to establish. But who will compromise?

Pakistan wants India to pull back from the glacier, after which the two sides could discuss a new boundary line. The key requirement: it must begin at NJ 9842 and end at the Karakoram Pass. But Pakistan would be willing to draw a demarcation between those points that would fall somewhere between its earlier claims and India's current position on the Saltoro Range.

India proposes a cease-fire in place, followed by a thinning out of forces in the Saltoro area; the suggestion has been rejected by Pakistan. In the talks last month, New Delhi broached a new formula slightly closer to Pakistan's: pull back all troops and establish a demilitarized zone, then negotiate on establishing a line from NJ 9842 to the Chinese border. So far, there has been no agreement.

After investing heavily in lives and money to take and hold the Saltoro, it would be politically difficult for Gandhi to yield even part of the territory to Pakistan, especially with national elections only months away. Bhutto is in an even more sensitive position. Having once taunted late President Mohammed % Zia ul-Haq, her predecessor, for losing the territory in the first place, she now faces poisonous criticism from opposition leaders who accuse her of "submission" to India. In the end, both Gandhi and Bhutto will have to stare down their political antagonists in order to agree on a boundary line across the north's icy fastness. Otherwise it will continue to be drawn in men's blood.


This is taken from TIME magzine
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VisionHawk

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First-ever Sikh joins Pak Army

By Arslan Rafiq Bhatti

LAHORE, Punjab -- Sardar Harcharan Singh became the first Pakistani-born Sikh since 1947 to join the 116th Long Course as a cadet at the Pakistan Military Academy.

He reported for training at the academy last week. Christians and Hindus have already been in the civil, judicial and military services of Pakistan, however no Sikh ever applied for Army commission over the past 58 years.

Born to a lower-middle class family of Nankana Sahib, Harcharan is the son of the late Sardar Aya Singh, a local cloth trader. He died 11 years back leaving behind a widow and five children, Harcharan being the second last among his three daughters and two sons.

Harcharan was determined to do something different from other Sikhs. Since his childhood, he has been a good student and the credit goes to his mother, Mrs Ameer Kaur, who is the main source of encouragement for him.

Talking to The News, before joining the academy, Harcharan said: "I had a dream which comes true, and now I have been selected for the Army. I am standing here due to my mother’s efforts that is always a sources of inspiration for me and helped me reach the height in my academic carrier.

"I did matric from Govt Guru Nanka School, Nankana Sahib, with distinction and got 677 marks. I did intermediate from FC College in Pre-Engineering with 726 marks. I wanted to be in the armed forces since it is the most challenging job in the country. One really feels proud while wearing a uniform and same is the case with me. I am selected purely on merit. I was selected in National College of Arts for Architecture Department but after I got call from army, I was on top of the world."

He said: "My aim of joining the army is to serve the country like other communities. I was surprised to notice that no Sikh ever joined army as a regular officer. It was my effort during entire academic career that I should be the need of an institution and note vice versa."

"I am thankful to Veer Gee after my mother, who always encouraged me to study more and do something different from others, who are roaming in the bazaars of Nankana Sahib." Harcharan was number four in his family but elder in male members as his three elder sisters were married and living happily. His younger brother Sardar Surrinder Singh, a matric student, too wants to join the armed forces.

Source: Jang
 

VisionHawk

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:pakistan: Guys lets hope that he succuessfully completes his training Long as a cadet at the Pakistan Military Academy.He is been selected for the recent 116th PMA long course. :army: :pakistan:

its not easy to adopt the harsh routine of PMA where people also got relegated :( by the way do u guys know PMA exercise YARMUK has been mentioned in Guiness book work record as the toughest exercise all around the world :taz:
 

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Pak Army may have a Sikh regiment

A Sikh Regiment in Pakistan Army may be a reality in the near future. This assurance has been given by certain senior leaders of Pakistan to Mr Gyan Singh, a Sikh MNA (Member of National Assembly) from Islamabad.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Mr Gyan Singh for he would raise the matter a Sikh Regiment on the floor of Pakistan’s Parliament as he was given an assurance by the Parliamentary Secretary and many MNAs to support the proposal move.

Mr Gyan Singh said his move on a Sikh Regiment was likely to be supported by other MNAs of minority community including Mr Des Raj, Mr Ramesh Lal, Mr Krishan Bir, Mr Akram Masih , Mr Arun Kesar, Mr Achhia Nasir , Parvez Masih and Mr M.P. Bhandara .

In another significant statement , Mr Gyan Singh said though it was a matter of pride that Parliament of Pakistan had given nod for the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) yet it was unlikely to run on the pattern of the SGPC . He said instead of elections, members would be nominated from different parts of the country which would run the PSGPC affairs in a democratic way. He said the new set up would definitely usher in a an era for the Sikh Community and would be instrumental in overall development of the Sikh shrines there . He said Mr Sham Singh , co –chairman of the PSGPC way unlikely to be re-elected in the new set-up as he had no direct contact with the Sikh masses in the country .

Mr Gyan Singh earlier who was clean shaven but now sported turban said that he was not aspirant for the post of the PSGPC chairman as he was not yet baptised . Replying a question , Mr Gyan Singh said he had confirmed the antecedents of Mr Sham Singh his ancestors were Sikhs . He said he recently visited Sindh and talked to many people under Bulle Khan police station and residents there told him that Mr Sham Singh belonged to ‘Nanak Panthis’ . However, he said the name and appearance of Sikandar (son of Sham Singh) who is clean-shaven, was still confusing which gives an impression of this being a Muslim.
 

EagleEyes

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Well this stuff needs to be done. We also need to support the minorties as its done in India, its ok if not together but atleast segregated.

This will at least make them feel like home, where they can do whatever they want, and i dont see why Pakistani Army would have problem with this. They will actually support it.
 

VisionHawk

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There are already a huge numbers of christians , hindus and parsis(those who worship fire) in army theree were some sikhs in pak army but they were not officers its a good sign that more sikhs will join army too.

Do u think that the suggestion given by one of the senior leaders of Pakistan national assembly Mr Gyan Singh, a Sikh MNA (Member of National Assembly) from Islamabad of raising a sikh regiment :) is a good decision or not . :)
 

EagleEyes

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Originally posted by VisionHawk@Jan 2 2006, 04:22 PM
Do u think that the suggestion given by one of the senior leaders of Pakistan national assembly Mr Gyan Singh, a Sikh MNA (Member of National Assembly) from Islamabad of raising a sikh regiment :) is a good decision or not . :)
[post=4991]Quoted post[/post]​
I think it is a good decision, it will give chance to the Sikhs who want to join army, but not really beneficial for the army as it doesn't need much troops. Also of course the balances should be made for future numbers of active and reserve troops.
 

VisionHawk

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Pak army's peackeepers return from Liberia

KARACHI, Jan 5 (APP): A batch of 211 Pakistan Army soldiers, deployed in Liberia on UN Peace-Keeping Mission, arrived at the Quaid-e-Azam International Airport on Thursday after completing their duty. Military officials received the incoming contingent on their arrival. The troops will be replaced by another batch of Pakistani troops as part of a relieve rotation plan. The peace-keeping mission has helped in improving the general security environment of Liberia, earning respect for the blue helmets and Pakistan.

During their tenure as peacekeepers in the war torn country, Pakistani blue helmets participated in various repatriation, rehabilitation and reconstruction operations. It is worth mentioning that Pakistan is the largest troops contributing country in United Nations peace Missions and earned a high degree of respect as proficient and dedicated blue helmets working for the cause of global peace.
 

VisionHawk

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Pak Army donate blood for earthquake victims


LAHORE, Jan 7 (APP): Pakistan Army troops stationed at Okara have donated four thousand pints of blood for the earthquake victims of AJK and NWFP.

During a day long blood donation campaign at Okara, officers and men including Garrison Commander Okara Major General Muhammad Yaqoob and General Officer Commanding Major General Asif Yaseen Malik donated one pint of blood each to set an example of commitment and dedication in helping out their brethren in the hour of need.

The donated blood has been handed over to the authorities concerned, a press release of the inter-services public relation directorate said on Saturday.
 

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