In what is being seen as a paradigm shift, the Pakistan Army has identified internal threats as the biggest danger to the nation — a dubious distinction thus far accorded to traditional “enemy” India. A new chapter titled ‘Sub-conventional Warfare’ has been added to the Army Doctrine, also called the ‘Green Book’.
Though details of this shift in the Army Doctrine are coming out now, Dawn reported that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and other terrorists groups had been identified as the biggest threat to national security in 2011.
Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has been referring to this obliquely in some of his recent speeches, the most notable being the last Independence Day eve address when he said “no state can afford a parallel system or a militant force” and warned of a possible civil war.
The chapter on sub-conventional warfare focuses on recalibrating strategies to address the need of the day: Tackling terrorists who have increasingly displayed their ability to strike at will, including at military facilities.
A senior official was quoted by The Express Tribune as saying: “Pakistan’s armed forces were trained for conventional warfare but the current security situation necessitated the change. Forces fighting on the front line in the tribal regions are now being trained according to the requirements of sub-conventional warfare.”
According to Director-General of Inter Services Public Relations Asim Saleem Bajwa, the Army prepares for all forms of threats. “Sub-conventional threat is a reality and is a part of a threat matrix faced by our country. But it doesn’t mean that the conventional threat has receded.”
For decades, Pakistan has considered India an existential threat — a policy primarily pushed by the military. Though analysts have for long been warning that the biggest threat to Pakistan lies within, the mainstream narrative has stuck to the beaten track.
Details about this doctrine surfacing now through “selective media leaks” is being interpreted by analysts as indicative of the military preparing the ground for launching an offensive, though officially the Army maintains that it is for the political leadership to formulate a response and build a national consensus.
Since it is no secret that the political leadership has little say over national security, this stance of the Army has drawn criticism and is viewed by several analysts as “passing the buck” so that the politicians take the blame for any backlash.