Homegrown Militants Biggest Threat: Pak Army
After focusing on the perceived danger from India for decades, the Pakistan Army had made a paradigm shift by describing homegrown militant groups and internal dangers as the biggest threat to the country's security in its new military doctrine.
Eleven years after it became involved in the US-led war against terrorism, the Pakistan Army has introduced changes its operational priorities for the first time, and the new doctrine describes the ongoing guerrilla war in the tribal belt and along the western border and bomb attacks by militant groups as the greatest threat.
The activities of Taliban fighters in the restive tribal regions and unabated terrorist attacks on government installations in major cities are posing a "real threat" to security, media reports today quoted the new doctrine as saying.
Journalists who were briefed on the issue by security officials told PTI that the doctrine is part of the army's efforts to review its operational preparedness and capabilities.
A new doctrine was published recently after a gap of about four years, the journalists said.
The new doctrine, running to over 200 pages, does not specifically link the threat from homegrown militant groups to any sort of shift from the Pakistan Army's earlier focus on India.
However, security analysts like Lt Gen (retired) Talat Masood acknowledged that it amounted to a paradigm shift.
The analysts further said the unrest along the western border with Afghanistan had prompted a change in the army's priorities.
Masood said India had always been perceived as Pakistan's enemy No 1 before the publication of the new doctrine.
Pakistan's preparations and weapons were always meant for India but for the first time, Islamabad had admitted that the real threat was emanating internally and along the western borders, he said.
Masood was of the opinion that the Pakistan Army would now focus on non-conventional warfare and the threat posed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and its allies across the border.
A new chapter on "Sub-Conventional Warfare" had been included in the doctrine for the first time, media reports said.
Without naming specific organisations, the doctrine talks about some groups and elements involved in this form of warfare.
The doctrine also mentions cross-border attacks witnessed along the border with Afghanistan in the recent past.
The doctrine said some groups and elements were involved in terrorist activities in the tribal belt and urban areas to harm the "existence of Pakistan".
These elements were carrying out attacks in an organized and highly brutal manner, which needs "similar preparations and response".
Proxy war has been included in the chapter on sub-conventional warfare, and it has been described as one of the elements of violence in some areas.
However, no country has been named as being involved in the proxy war.
The doctrine is currently being distributed among military commanders and BBC Urdu quoted military sources as saying that it would be posted on the army's website at an appropriate time.
Military officials who were involved in preparing the doctrine were quoted by BBC Urdu as saying that the army is ready to deal with new emerging threats and to seek political support for this purpose.
Military sources said an assessment of the situation and documentation of threats will enable security forces to effectively use their capabilities against existing dangers.
The military sources further acknowledged that the current focus on the eastern border with India was one of the reasons why the Pakistan Army could not detect the US helicopters that carried commandoes to Abbottabad for the secret mission to kill Osama bin Laden.
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