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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)

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Enclosed report on Shri Shrawan Tandon Memorial Seminar held on 06 April 2013


At the Shrawan Tandon Memorial Seminar organized by the Association of Retired Senior I.P.S. Officers (ARSIPSO) on 6th April, 2013, on the topic “What should be India’s Focus on Pakistan”, the learned speakers made the following important observations:

1. Pakistan is all about Islam and Islam has been the guiding force of every activity that has taken place there. We have to look at Pakistan from the prism of Islam to be able to understand what is it that becomes an impulse there? What are the limits within which they function and what are the red lines which they will not cross? And one of the red lines is not to make peace with us.

2. Pakistan has been facing sectarian strife recently. Hazaras in Quetta have been killed ruthlessly, largely by a Sunni fundamentalist organization called Lashkar-e-Jhangvi backed by Sipahe Saheba, a linchpin criminal element basically from South and Central Punjab. But Shias have been killed all over the country and the States seem powerless or unwilling to prevent it. Other minorities are also under siege, e.g., attack on Christians, the Lahore Joseph Colony and the Karachi incidents.

3. Terrorist violence, emanating from Khyber Pakhtuns areas and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), is continuing. Various Lashkar-e-Taliban factions from FATA are still active. The Army’s efforts to contain them have met with only partial success. Over 3400 security men have been killed in the last seven years. Three entire battalions of Pakistan Army have been de-capacitated. There have been attacks on pro-establishment Ansarul Islam in Terra Valley by Lashkar-e-Islam and Tehrik-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP). So called secular leaders, like Basher Bilawar of the Awami National Party, have been killed: raising the question whether writ of the State runs in this area? The Army has been holding the area with widespread presence and by making deals with Taliban wherever possible. The establishment has tried to exploit traditional rivalries, like Wazirs against Masoods, to make them quiet. Drone attacks in this area have been welcomed by the Army, but it condemns these publically.

4. Elections are scheduled for 11th May, 2013. The electioneering has created its own problems. First, there was chaos with the appearance of cleric Tahibul Quadri and the noises raised about the role the Election Commission should play. Now, the Returning Officers are juding on the Islamic credentials of the candidates, under Art. 62 and 63 of the Constitution. Well-known journalists, like Zameer, have been disqualified for writing against the State’s ideology. Musharaff’s return is seen to be a non-event but he is going to face personal security threat from Islamists. If something happens to him, the Army will be shown in poor light. There is apprehension that violence will be integral feature of this election. Taliban has threatened ANP and PPP candidates. Other types of local and sectarian scores will also be settled.

5. There has been widespread alienation in Baluchistan. Apart from the history of suppression, Punjabi domination and exploitation of natural resources, rising middle class and alienation of middle class of Baluch are very much pronounced. Issues which continue to agitate Baluch, include location of new Army cantonment, cases of missing people, disappearances of Baluch nationalists, either picked up by the Army or the ISI but not tried or brought before legal processes. Judiciary is also inquiring into allegation that sectarianism in Baluchistan is being deliberately instigated to divert attention from nationalist aspirations. Ethnic schism also affects Karachi, where Mujahirs and Pakhtuns have been clashing since long. There has been huge influx of Pakhtuns from FATA and TTP is believed to have infiltrated into the new settlement areas. Pakhtun colonies have sprung up in the outskirts of Karachi. Land mafia which has set up the new colonies has linkages with Tehrik-e- Taliban, who look upon Karachi as a rest and recreation centre before going back to FATA.

The rivalry between Mujahirs and Sindhis is also old.

Police have been largely ineffective in Karachi due to lack of modernization, political interference in its working, etc. The Army and para military forces have been used as temporary alternatives. However, Tehrik-e-Taliban has attacked the Pakistan Rangers in Karachi too.

6. High profile conflict between the judiciary and the executive is another phenomenon witnessed during the last one year. The doctrine of necessity, justifying martial law takeover of the judiciary, has been given up by the judiciary under Chief Justice Iftakar Choudhary. Chief Justice Iftakar Choudhary has nurtured an intense dislike for President Zardari which became evident in the invalidation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) and the insistence on the writing of a letter to the Swiss authorities for reopening the corruption case against President Zardari despite the immunity enjoyed by him under Pakistani Constitution as President of the country.

There is also a perception of one-sided anti-PPP role of the judiciary, which became evident during the memogate case, in which the judiciary, which perhaps at the instigation of the Army, got after Hussain Haqqani, Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S.A., who is considered to be a Zardari clone. Lately, to dispel the perception that it is one-sided in pursuit of PPP, the courts have also taken on the Army and the ISI in the disappearances cases in Baluchistan and elsewhere.

7. With regard to Pakistan’s strategic culture, Army is very important in Pakistan. The main features of Pakistan’s strategic culture are opposition to Indian hegemony in any form, utmost importance of the defence requirements of the country and accepting foreign aid mainly from the U.S.A. and China.

Nuclear deterrence is India specific. There has always been military control over military policy and operations. This has resulted in the Strategic Forces Command which has been given missiles and launchers. Another aspect of their strategic culture is to secure their western border and to achieve strategic depth. This also implies excluding Indian influence from Afghanistan. And it is Pakistan’s strategy to identify with Islamic causes.

The Army has cast itself in the role of defender of Islam. In political terms the Army has always used the Islamic crutch both to justify the overthrow of democratic regimes and also for the repression during the 1981 restoration of martial law. Lately, Islamic elements have penetrated in the Army. A module of Hizbul Tahrir was found in the Army about one to one-and-a-half years back. The Army has also been using non-State actors, e.g., sponsoring of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jaish, the Hizbul Mujahidin and Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami in Kashmir.

8. The population of youth in Pakistan is increasing and they are facing the problem of unemployment. Many of them are not keen on fundamentalism. A recent survey has shown that about 38% prefer the Sharai Law and 32% prefer the Army rather than democracy.

9. There are certain imponderables in relation to Pakistan whether the State will implode? How much will the Islamists be able to penetrate in the security set up? How will the State respond to the offer of talks with the TTP? Army’s dilemma is how to get political parties together to face terrorism? What is Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan? After withdrawal of the U.S. forces, whether the Army feels they will be able to manage TTP? How will all of this have an impact on Pakistan?

10. Islamist influence and power has increased remarkably in Pakistani society during the last about 20 to 30 years. For example, if a Tabligh delegation visits a house, it will be almost impossible to turn it away. One will have to listen to whatever they have to say and for as long as they want to tell it, because if one shoos them off, one never knows if they may target one’s house and say that he was not a believer in Islam. There is a pervading climate of fear in Pakistan. The mindset of the Islamists is such that often one cannot engage in a rational argument. On a recent occasion when Chief of Jamat-e-Islami Pakistan was being interviewed on some Islamic laws and one of the issues raised was to do with the protection of women and the Women Reservation Bill, when the young interviewer continued to insist on a point he was warned by the J-e-I Chief that he should not talk against what is prescribed in Islam, as it would amount to committing blasphemy and violating Islamic law. Even the people who get elected are not treated well in Pakistan. The Pakistan’s social trends indicate that Islamization is continuing steadily and there is frustration with regard to the state of affairs inside Pakistan. Those in authority such as Returning Officers have subjective opinions regarding who has adequate knowledge of Islam and what it is. Each Returning Officer, on the basis of his own interpretation, can decide whether a person is righteous or not, whether he is honest or dishonest.

In Pakistan there was a tradition which was called Sufi Islam, which is now in recession. We in India do not have a proper understanding of Islam and that is the fundamental problem we face in being able to understand what is happening in Pakistan. Dissent today is expressed by those who are called radical elements, who enjoy real power. They are making major inroads in Sindh, North and Central Punjab, Khyber Pakhtun to Baluchistan. These persons have been able to impose their will by force of Armies in places like South Punjab. No leader in Punjab today can fight an election much less win it unless he has the support of one religious outfit or the other. A few months back, a leader of Sepahe Saheba declared on Punjab Television that in the last election 30 members of Parliament cutting across party lines have won with his support. Many senior bureaucrats stand compromised as their family members have connections with organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba.

In Khyber Pakthunkhwa another kind of Talibanization has taken place in the affected areas named above. In Baluchistan, part of the sectarian movement violence is carried out by groups which are operating under the patronage of Pakistan Army. These groups are used as a counter against the Baluch national leaders. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and a few similar other groups are part of the Taliban network which are being used by the Pakistani state against Baluch nationalists. They already have their presence in Pashtun belt of Pakistan. Now they have made big inroads in the Baluch belt as well.

The writ of the state does not appear to run in such areas. About over a year ago, an electronics market in Lahore was shut and a large number of CDs containing pornographic material were destroyed in a bonfire on receiving a letter by one of the shopkeepers to stop selling pornographic CDs within 24 hours. Shopkeepers put up posters outside their shops that they have complied with the dictat. Police writ does not count as much as their writ. The entire theatre culture in Lahore has come to a standstill because of this. In Pakistan liberals are a fringe group. The entire outlook of people in India is coloured by this small group of liberals. Therefore, most Indians fail to see the reality in Pakistan and we in India make our policy based on the opinions articulated by a small group of Pakistani liberals. All laws in Pakistan are already Islamized, including criminal. The problem is not with the legal framework, it is in the social sphere. People actually do not have a problem with what the Talibans are talking about. Their problem is the manner in which the Talibans are imposing these restrictions. The society is so intolerant that it is not willing to accept even things like accusations of blasphemy even if untrue. This is also reflected in the areas where minorities are concerned. In Sindh Hindu girls are kidnapped and converted forcibly into prostitution. The Christians are also opposed and treated very badly. The level of intolerance and the level of fanaticism cut across the board. A Barelvi Ulma is as fanatical as a Deobandi, as a Wahabi, as a Shia. The fact is that the trend of extremism has societal sanction. It is intolerant, both inside and outside that country; it is intolerant towards its own people as well as to people outside. It is a society which is incapable of living in peace within and without.

11. Pakistan believes that India has modernized itself, improved its military capability by acquisition of expensive weapons systems and its economic growth has made it much more powerful and capable than Pakistan. Pakistan has, therefore, chalked out a strategy to take primitive steps to de-capacitate and degrade capability of India. Pakistan is developing tactical nuclear weapons in the range of four to seven kilo tons and less, which can be used against India in conventional warfare.

Pakistan believes that a country like Pakistan which has got poor military conventional capability but has access to nuclear weapons can use this nuclear capability in conventional warfare to stop superiority of conventional war machine from achieving its objectives. Pakistan believes that in case there is retaliation from India, which is not massive, because Pakistan has used its nuclear capability only against conventional weapons, it will get a chance of massive retaliation against India.

Therefore, Pakistan has developed a concept of war fighting which is multi-tiered. Pakistan is trying to upgrade its deployment in forward areas. It is building cantonments close to the border and redeploying its formations. The idea is that it will be able to respond faster and able to redeploy its forces to prevent India from being able to take strategic advantage through its proactive strategy based on its modernized war machine. Pakistan’s aim is to deter with a combination of credible conventional and unconventional means and in the process, to prevent limited war with the so-called nuclear over-hang. It has upgraded its mobilization timings. The moment it picks up that there will be a reaction from India it will put its plan into operation. Along with it, it will deploy its tactical nuclear weapons, missiles with nuclear warheads. In its view, the sanctity of LoC in Jammu & Kashmir does not exist.

Pakistan does not believe that the Americans and the Chinese will come to Pakistan’s aid, although the Chinese intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, which are exponentially increasing, will be available to Pakistan so that it will be quite up-to-date in the knowledge about movement and preparations of Indian forces, etc. Therefore, Pakistan looks at nuclear fighting as central piece to their doctrine, which is India specific and which will compensate for the military imbalance which is becoming acute by the day.


A.P. Bhatnagar
General Secretary, ARSIPSO

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