In an apparent reaction to reports quoting Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor that India is reworking its war doctrine to meet the possible challenge of a two-front war, the Pakistan Army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said on Friday that his forces were aware of the threat from India and were fully prepared to meet it.
A report in India earlier this week said the Indian war doctrine was being revised at the Army Training Command in Shimla. The report quoted Gen. Kapoor as telling a closed-door military seminar that having successfully firmed up the cold-start strategy — the ability to deploy troops for war at the shortest possible notice — the Indian Army was now focusing on the possibility of a two-front war threat, from the west and the north-east.
He is also reported to have talked about developing better synergies between the Army, Navy and Air Force, the need to be prepared for “sub-conventional threats” like cyber warfare and dirty bombs, and for the need to acquire the technological edge in weaponry.
The report drew a sharp response from the Foreign Office, which said on Thursday that the Indian Army chief’s remarks “betray a hostile intent as well as a hegemonic and jingoistic mindset” that was out of touch with present-day realities.
On Friday, Gen. Kayani also waded into the controversy during an address to senior officers at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
According to a statement from the military’s Inter-Services Public Relations, Gen. Kayani said proponents of conventional application of military forces in a nuclear overhang were charting “an adventurous and dangerous path, the consequences of which could be both unintended and uncontrollable.”
The Pakistan Army was “fully alert and alive to the full spectrum of threat which continues to exist in conventional and unconventional domains,” he is said to have told the meeting.
“Pakistan is not oblivious to the unprecedented acquisition of the sophisticated military hardware, synergised with an offensive military doctrine,” the ISPR quoted him as saying.
As a responsible nuclear capable state, the Pakistan Army would contribute to strategic stability and strategic restraint, but at the same time, “would continue to maintain the necessary wherewithal to deter and, if required, defeat any aggressive design, in any form or shape, that is, a firmed-up ‘proactive strategy’ or a ‘cold start doctrine.’ ”
He reaffirmed the Pakistan Army’s commitment to respond to “any existing, potential or emerging threat.”
The hot words did not affect the annual New Year’s Day ritual exchange between the two countries of their respective list of nuclear installations and facilities. The lists were exchanged on Friday in accordance with Article-II of the 1998 India-Pakistan Agreement on Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities.
Separately, Pakistan also handed over to an official of the Indian High Commission here a list of Indian prisoners in its jails. This was in accordance with the May 2008 India-Pakistan Agreement on Consular Access, under which both countries are required to exchange lists of prisoners in each other’s custody on January 1 and July 1 every year.
However, India has not submitted the list of Pakistanis in Indian jails. This is the third time that New Delhi has failed to provide this list to Pakistan.