Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Tuesday asserted the country's nuclear weapon capability, saying the United States would think “10 times'' before launching a unilateral attack on Pakistan.
Gen. Kayani was reported by the local media as presenting such an assessment on the stand-off with the U.S. during a closed door briefing for members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence.
And, Director General of Military Operations Ashfaq Nadeem underscored the threat perception from India given New Delhi's “cold start” doctrine as seven out of nine Indian commands and three strike corps were along India's western border.
He pointed out that 81 per cent of the forward and main operating bases of India were positioned against Pakistan.
“We cannot base our strategies on any good intentions, no matter how noble they may be, as intentions can change overnight. Our strategy has to be based on India's capability,'' he said.
The reported remarks of the senior-most Army officials indicate that Pakistan's Afghanistan policy remains directly linked to its threat perception from India.
Denying that Pakistan was seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan, the COAS conceded Islamabad's long-term interests there. “For short-term gains, we cannot lose sight of our long-term interests. We cannot leave both our eastern and western borders insecure.''
About strategic depth in Afghanistan, Gen. Kayani said history was replete with instances of failed efforts to do so.
“No magic wand”
“When the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union failed, how can it be expected of Pakistan? We do not have a magic wand to succeed in doing what others have failed,'' he said.
Asked if the U.S. would attack Pakistan, Gen. Kayani said Pakistan was a nuclear power and must not be compared with any other country, including Iraq and Afghanistan. And, instead of pressuring Pakistan, the U.S. should focus on stabilising Afghanistan as the problem was within.
Stating that the U.S. was mounting pressure on Pakistan to launch operations in North Waziristan – considered a haven of the Haqqani network that is held responsible for many of the attacks on the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan – the COAS was quoted by members as saying: “If anyone convinces me that everything will be sorted out if we act in North Waziristan, I will take immediate action.''
Reiterating Islamabad-Rawalpindi's long held contention on the American `do more' refrain – particularly, vis-à-vis the Haqqani network – he said: “We have made it clear to the U.S. that we will decide the timing of any such action according to our situation and capabilities.''
As for links with terrorist groups, he noted that intelligence agencies world over maintained such contacts.
“That is where we get our information, the intelligence, from. The important thing is how we use the information gathered from these elements. You can do it positively and negatively,'' he said.