Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War Hardcover – 19 Jun 2014
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she concentrates on the international dimensions of the policies pursued by the Pakistani army and the implications that this has forregional and international security. (Katharine Adeney, Political Studies Review)
A provocative but historically justified look at the security narrative scribed and fiercely protected by the Pakistan military since its 1947 inception. (Thomas F. Lynch III, Book of the year 2014, The War on the Rocks)
Fairs book, based on a meticulous analysis of literature published by Pakistans military, persuasively demonstrates that the delusions of grandeur which drive the countrys security establishment are rooted in fatal distortions of history. (Kapil Komireddi, Book of the year 2014, New Republic)
the book represents a valuable contribution to the literature. It has been deeply and thoroughly researched, with an extensive analysis of the official documents of the Pakistan army previously overlooked by scholarship on the subject. (Filippo Boni, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics)
a very important work which should be made available to as wide an audience as possible (R. F. Rosner, The Royal Society for Asian Affairs)
About the Author
C. Christine Fair is an Assistant Professor in the Security Studies Program within Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She previously served as a senior political scientist with the RAND Corporation, a political officer with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in Kabul, and a senior research associate at USIP's Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention. Her research focuses on political and military affairs in South Asia.
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Top Customer Reviews
Ms. Fair highlights the various aspects of the Army's purpose, aims, philosophy and motivations over eleven very detailed and interesting chapters. The most interesting aspect is how the author specifically emphasizes the ideological policies of the Pakistan Army; for the generals not only see themselves as the defenders of Pakistan's physical borders, but also of Pakistan's Islamic foundations. Fanatical supporters of the 'Two Nation' theory, the Army see's 'Hindu' India as the fundamental opposite of their existence and a constant danger to Pakistan's very existence. The Army's 'Strategic Culture' determines how it sees the world.
This India-centrist ideology is not merely limited to simple religious differences. There are territorial issues at stake, namely the Princely state of Kashmir, not to mention the fears of Indian influence in Afghanistan which the Pakistan Army sees as a challenge to its 'strategic depth' as a nation. Indeed, Afghanistan is considered an area of major strategic importance for Pakistan. There's also the 'anti-status-quo' ideals of challenging growing Indian hegemony in South Asia, one of the main causes of Pakistan's pursuit of nuclear weapons. This anti-Indian sentiment is reflected in the military literature released by the army (Army Green Book), which has no problem using revisionism to great effect when portraying it's own position.Read more ›
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Dr Fair begins by describing Pakistan as an insecure state which views India as ‘its eternal foe that not only seeks to dominate Pakistan but to destroy it’. The genesis and the evolution of this strategic culture can be traced to the partition of the Indian subcontinent and the subsequent events that followed. For Pakistan the process of partition was unfair with a ‘moth eaten’ Pakistan created in 1947. Territories like Junagarh, Hyderabad and Kashmir were denied to Pakistan by Indian perfidy and British conspiracy. Constant references are made to the award of seven Muslim majority tehsils in Punjab by Radcliff (insistence of Mountbatten influenced by Nehru), especially of Gurdaspur which allowed India land route to Kashmir thereby facilitating its ‘occupation’.
Dr. Fair argues that Pakistan’s fear of India though couched in terms of security are not so. It is ideological. Pakistani army sees itself as the defender of Pakistan’s ideological frontier i.e. the two nation theory and its Islamic identity vis-à-vis ‘Hindu’ India. It believes that Pakistan is equal to India and seeks parity with the latter despite being much smaller geographically, demographically and economically. The conflict with India is defined in ideolological and civilizational terms making it incumbent upon the Pakistani army to resist what it perceives as Indian hegemony in the region and also India’s global rise. Interestingly, because of this victory and defeat at the hands of Indians is seen differently by the Pakistani army. Even after an outright defeat as in 1971, Pakistani army considered itself victorious because it survived to fight/challenge India another day. Defeat for the Pakistan army would thus be the day it accepts the status quo and Indian supremacy. It is this belief which propels Pakistan to take calculated risks for changing the status quo periodically but regularly. Apart from initiating three regular wars with India and the Kargil misadventure, Pakistan has constantly supported insurgencies in India (Naga, Mizo, Sikh) and waged proxy war in Kashmir. Interestingly while the American’s were training Pakistanis in guerrilla warfare to suppress and defeat insurgencies in the 1950’s, the then Pakistani defense literature was glorifying Vietnamese resistance and also ‘interested in understanding how Pakistan could wage one’. Operation Gibraltar in 1965 and Kargil intrusion in 1999 bear testimony to this thinking.
Pakistan has pursued a policy of strategic depth to limit Indian and Russian (also erstwhile Soviet) influence in Afghanistan. Unlike the generally held view that the concept of strategic depth was enunciated by General Aslam Beg, Dr. Fair posits that this idea of strategic depth in Afghanistan is a colonial legacy which was carried forward by the successor state of Pakistan, even though it did not possess the resources of the Raj. To facilitate covert operations against the Doud government of Afghanistan, training camps were established by Bhutto to train Afghan Mujahedeen as early as 1973. This also explodes another oft repeated myth by the Pakistanis that the Mujahedeen were created by the US to further its own geo-political interests in Afghanistan.
The instruments used by Pakistan to seek strategic parity with India and to resist its rise has been to seek alliances and court international benefactors like United States, China and Saudi Arabia, nurture non-state actors and use terror as an instrument of state policy. Though the USA has been the largest largess provider for the Pakistani state, in Pakistani defense literature USA is portrayed as a perfidious ally. Pakistan constantly harps on the USA failure to overtly support Pakistan despite being an ally in the 1965 and the 1971 war with India, the sanctions imposed under Pressler Amendments (incidentally the passing of this amendment was hailed as a victory for Pakistani diplomacy) and turning its back on Pakistan after Soviet defeat in Afghanistan. No reference however is made of the differing geo-political objectives of the two nations. While Pakistan purportedly became an ally of the US to challenge communism, its goals remained purely India centric. Failure to get active US support in its conflicts with India has been a constant sore point with the Pakistanis. In contrast to the USA, China is projected as an all weather friend. Chinese failures to support Pakistan’s objectives and goals are generally glossed over.
With the overt nuclearization of the subcontinent, Pakistan has pursued a policy of Jihad under the nuclear umbrella against its adversaries. It has supported terrorism against India from its soil and sought to undermine US strategic interests in the region. The possession on nuclear weapons has facilitated nuclear risk taking by Pakistan. By keeping its nuclear doctrine ambiguous and not defining its nuclear threshold it has achieved its twin objectives of deterring India from escalating the conflict as well as drawn international actors like the USA into limiting the conflict. It also rightly believes that being a nuclear power restrains USA from completely abandoning Pakistan.
The question then remains is can the strategic culture of the Pakistani army can be changed? Scholars have argued that with the strengthening of democratic institutions in Pakistan, this narrative would be challenged. Some (Ahmed Rashid, Raphel) have argued that a grand bargain with India through the resolution of the Kashmir dispute (to Pakistan’s satisfaction) may facilitate such a change. Dr Fair appears to take a pessimistic view and does not foresee any change happening in the near or distant future. Dismissing the grand bargain theory she describes Pakistan as a ‘purely greedy state’ which is defined by Charles Glaser as a state ‘fundamentally unsatisfied with the status quo, desiring additional territory even when it is not desired for security.’ Any appeasement of this ‘greedy state’ might aggravate the problem rather than solving it. She further argues that even if Pakistan undergoes a permanent democratic transition it does not obviously follow that ‘civilians will abandon the persistent revisionism with respect to India. This is because of the deep presence of army’s strategic culture, based on the ideology of Islam and two nation theory, within Pakistan’s civil society, political culture and bureaucracies’. A case in point is the Abbotabad attack by USA, which provided the civilians an opportunity to asset some control over the army, instead they chose to rally around the latter. Some scholars argue that the India centric doctrine of the Pakistani army has now changed and it has acknowledged internal threats as the main challenge. While Pakistani army may at times acknowledge internal threats but it successfully ‘externalizes’ those threats to the enemies (India) of Pakistan, who are held responsible for creating and aggravating these threats. This in turn brings the conventional focus back to India for the army and also buttresses its role as the premium institution in the country which can manage these threats.
One interesting and novel fact brought out by Dr. Fair is the changing recruitment pattern of the army. Her research shows that in 1972 the army officers came from only few districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), but by 2005 practically all districts of Pakistan were producing officers. Her field work suggests that many of these officers do not share the ‘core values’ of the Punjabi dominated strategic culture of the Pakistani army with the same intensity. How this changes the nature of the discourse of this strategic culture in future remains to be seen.
The book provides important policy prescriptions for both India and United States. She argues that USA should stop ‘attempting to transform the Pakistani army of Pakistan for that matter. It is unlikely that the United States can offer Pakistan any incentive that would be so valuable to Pakistan and its security interests that the army would abandon the varied tools it has developed to manage its security competition with India, much less consider a durable rapprochement.’ The realities for India are starker. ‘The Pakistan army will continue to weaken India by any means possible, even though such means are inherently risky. In the army’s eye, any other course will spell true defeat.’ It is time that the Indian policy planners stop being wooly eyed about Pakistan and face facts.
This book is a must read for all policy planners in India and the United States. This would help them shed many of their illusions and accept realities howsoever uncomfortable.
The Pakistani army all these decades has endeavoured not only to secure its geographical boundaries but also make full use of Islam as an ideology to retain its steely grip on civil society; the book details its persistence with the concept of the two-nation theory and the incomplete business of Partition. The officers of the Pakistani are conveniently made more erudite on Quranic battles than made to study the wars begun and lost with India. Pakistani civil society has strangely not just reconciled itself to, but actually embraced this military dominance.
Fair’s assessment of the Pakistan army is out: it is an ideological war machine that is not amenable to any inducements or assuaging of its security concerns. Professor C Christine Fair, a security studies expert at Georgetown University, has produced a formidably comprehensive evaluation of what keeps the Pakistan army ticking, to what end and through what means. The book, divided into 11 chapters, is a painstaking endeavour to understand the strategic or corporate culture of the army, its motivation, motives and moves and what factors within or from outside Pakistan could have any bearing on it. Professor Fair’s compendium ravages the notion that Pakistan is a security-seeking state located in a rough neighbourhood and if the international powers, especially the USA, could guarantee or facilitate its wellbeing by leaning on India and to an extent on Afghanistan, the country could be weaned off its toxic jihadist habit. The work looks at the Pakistan army through the lens of its own publications including journals and the Green Books to posit that Islam, the Two Nation Theory (TNT), the 1947 Partition, jihad and a fetish for asymmetric warfare via proxies was virtually baked into the entity carved out of the British Indian Army.
The author makes a case that Pakistan and its army have been imbued, from the outset, with an ‘enduring and expanding revisionism’ that seeks to alter not just the territorial status quo vis-à-vis India but also “insists that India and the rest of the world view and treat it as India’s equal”. Professor Fair notes the army has framed the conflict in civilisational terms replete with a fanciful reading of remote and even contemporary history. The ideology, firmly anchored in Islam and the TNT that seeks parity with India, has been the intellectual engine of the Pakistan army since its inception and the use of jihadist irregulars to change the territorial status quo dates back to the 1947 incursion into Kashmir. Professor Fair notes that “by the 1950s, articles in Pakistan’s professional military publications were already arguing for the viability of initiating and sustaining guerrilla operations within the implied theatre of Indian-controlled Kashmir”. Operation Gibraltar 1965 and Kargil 1999 were but two culminations of this delusional fixation that Pakistan could upstage a bigger adversary. Professor Fair observes that to rationalise such counterintuitive recklessness, the army employed psychological and civilisational rubrics wherein India is first painted as a hegemon out to devour Pakistan. She notes that these defence analysts then “seek to understand India as Hindu and to place it in opposition to Muslim Pakistan” and “establish that Hindus are dishonourable, meek, pusillanimous, treacherous, and inequitable and then argue that these traits define the country (India)”. This is then contrasted by portraying Muslims — and by extension Pakistan — as honourable, brave, and committed to the Ummah (Muslim nation) and justice. Subsequently, these writers “seek to reveal India as a paper tiger that Pakistan can easily dominate”. Professor Fair states that “this narrative allows the army to continue to argue that it is the only institution that can protect Pakistan” from India, which is portrayed in the defence literature “not only as a perennial source of external conflict but also the primary source of Pakistan’s domestic woes”. She writes that “India’s Hindu-ness is used to denigrate its worthiness as an opponent” while Pakistan’s defence literature “casts itself as the noble underdog”, which is trying against all odds to protect not just the frontiers but ideological and civilisation honour.
Professor Fair notes that General Ayub Khan made a conscious decision to disseminate the army’s ideological revisionist narrative through Pakistani textbooks and to co-opt religious-political forces. This deliberate and repeated substitution of fable for facts, i.e. indoctrination, has led to where, in Professor Fair’s words, “both military regimes and civilian governments alike pursue the army’s revisionist agenda”. Professor Fair notes: “The Pakistan army was born an ideological army that specifically espoused Islam as its corporate ideology” and then “quickly began to revise the traditions it inherited from the British Army to reflect the Islamic identity of the new state”. This is in sharp contrast to proponents of appeasement like Professor Anatol Lieven who portray the Pakistan army as a secular outfit carrying on with the scotch and tombola. The gist of Professor Fair’s thesis is that army’s highest echelons, not just the intelligence wing, adopted and instrumentalised Islam and the TNT to push its objectives at home and across both borders. She notes that under the nuclear umbrella this jihad gained momentum rather than slowing down.
Professor Fair describes Pakistan under its army as a “purely greedy state” defined by Charles Glaser as a state “fundamentally unsatisfied with the status quo, desiring additional territory even when it is not desired for security”. Professor Fair argues against the US continuing to reward Pakistan’s reckless behaviour without seeing a fundamental shift in the revisionist doctrine. She has not, however, argued whether the army’s greed as an economic class is an additional, if not the major, factor in propagation of this ideology-tethered revisionism. This book also has clear policy implications for the new Indian and Afghan governments, which may already have drawn similar conclusions independently. Professor Fair is not terribly optimistic about the Pakistani civilian leadership or society being able to induce a major shift in the army’s ideological direction due to either being weak and disparate or not actually disagreeing with the army. She has entertained the possibility of a gradual institutional culture change as the army increasingly recruits from non-Punjabi areas of Pakistan. I tend to disagree with that notion, as the army remains a melting pot in which the three non-Punjabi chiefs, the Generals Ayub Khan, Musa Khan and Yahya Khan, the last two also being Shiite, did not veer an inch from the party line. The army’s all-Bengali units perhaps were an exception, thanks to their unique historical situation. The army’s selection process remains meticulous enough to choose a compatible lot amenable to further indoctrination. Professor Fair correctly notes the extrinsic factors are also unlikely to induce a course correction. This suggests that world powers may opt for a containment regimen or hands-off approach towards Pakistan barring a major geopolitical disaster emanating from this country. Professor Fair’s solidly academic account should have no difficulty finding its way to the top of the charts and the hands of both the Pakistani and non-Pakistani civil and military planners, where it rightly belongs.
These qualifications make Dr. Fair one of America's true "subject matter experts" (a title that is erroneously wielded far too often inside the Beltway by scholars incapable of reading or speaking the target foreign language) and thus, uniquely qualified to guide her readers towards a deeper understanding of the subtleties and intricacies of the Pakistan Military's warped worldview and ethos. Therefore, I'm a little perplexed by accusations of other reviewers that she is a "pseudo-scholar" or that her work is "one- dimensional and flawed." As anyone who has even a passing familiarity with this part of the world can easily discern, the reviewers making these sort of claims about Dr. Fair are allowing their pro-Pakistani or pro-India sentiments to unfairly inform their already unbalanced commentary and analysis.
Despite the raid on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, the 2008 Mumbai attacks linked to JuD/LeT under the obvious direction of military officials (just listen to the voice intercepts), and a declaration made by former CJCS Admiral Mullen that the Haqqani Network is a "veritable arm of the ISI" --- recognition of Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism is NOT official U.S. policy, --- but it should be. In fact, one could even argue that Pakistan (or more specifically, the Pakistani military) is one of the more successful state-sponsors of terrorism in the entire world. And yet, we taxpayers continue to keep both its economy and military afloat.
Iran must surely look upon its Eastern neighbor with wistful envy. Since its violent birth in 1947, Pakistan has managed to check off an impressive "To Do" List. Consider the facts: Pakistan is a nuclear weapons proliferator (thanks to Dr. A.Q. Khan, a national hero under ostensible house arrest) and uses its nuclear weapons stockpile and self-inflicted domestic terrorist threat as "redlines" to bully and bend both the international community and its perceived existence threat (India) to its will. Long a "rentier state" kept afloat by U.S. and international aid, Pakistan's government and military (often the same thing given that Pakistan has been under direct military rule for nearly half of its existence) refuses to take responsibility for the multitude of challenges that it has faced since its creation in 1947.
Like the author, I do not believe that we should disengage entirely from Pakistan, --- only that we should hold them accountable for the terrorism that they sponsor, reify, and incubate. If you read only one book on Pakistan's Strategic Culture and the formative influence of Pakistan's military on its national identity and ideology, as well as its foreign and domestic policies, it should be this book.
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