Busting myth around the Bajwa Doctrine
Just like there is no ‘Doval Doctrine’, the ‘Bajwa Doctrine’ is also non-existent. It is a misnomer; at best it’s a storm in a teacup
The much-bandied Bajwa Doctrine is a misnomer. At best, it’s a storm in a teacup. Either a journalist in Pakistan has coined this term or it is the work of the Inter-Services Public Relations’ intrepid Major General Asif Ghafoor. It makes anyone feel larger than life having a doctrine named after him. No other Pakistan Army Chief, who is de facto ruler of the country, has a doctrine attributed to him; though General Raheel Sharif did have posters and graffiti in Lahore and other places, reading “we love you Raheel Sharif”.
Rumours about his extension, being made a Field Marshal and even about a takeover, were circulated but he rode into the sunset enabling a second elected Government in the history of Pakistan to complete its full term in office — though there are still three months to go.
The Bajwa Doctrine, if there is one, is about civil-military relations, the balance of power invariably in favour of the Army which calls the shots on foreign and nuclear policies. Simply put, and thanks to their ineptitude, elected Governments are shown to lack the acumen and fortitude to govern — being a bunch of corrupt and selfish politicians who require the military to be permanently standing by in aid to the civil authority.
In the Army, it is kosher to promote or denigrate the judiciary and ruling political class in national interest — the term made folklore by General Parvez Musharraf. Add to this, the existential threat posed by India, the primacy of the Army becomes axiomatic. The collegiate of mainly Punjabi Corps Commanders has thoughtfully decided that indirect military rule is more convenient than military takeover, as the 10-year Musharraf era demonstrated. The two-term extension to General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was detrimental to the morale and well-being of the officer corps, especially stagnation of the higher command. Allah, America and Army are the three pillars on which Pakistan was bedded. The change now is that China has replaced America.
Doctrines are policy and personality-specific. The Monroe Doctrine was named after a US President to signal hands off Latin America. ‘Indira Doctrine’, later renamed ‘Rajiv Gandhi Doctrine’, covered Sri Lanka and the near Indian Ocean Region, including Maldives as India’s sphere of influence. Nepal and Bhutan were inclusive to India’s northern security frontiers. Gujral Doctrine was about India’s non-reciprocal generosity to smaller neighbours. The Modi Doctrine simultaneously encompasses many elements — neighbourhood first, surgical strikes and even Doklam.
The Doval Doctrine was famously encapsulated by Caravan magazine — his speeches on riposte to Pakistan and nationalism. But uniquely “if there is another 26/11 there will be no Balochistan”. The Parrikar Doctrine: ‘Use a terrorist to take out a terrorist.’ Sadly, the Doval and Parrikar Doctrines were never operationalised to counter the mythical Bajwa Doctrine. One constant for all Army Chiefs is their sacred duty to keep the Line of Control alive so that the Kashmir issue remains hot and at the centre stage.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa will not be remembered for any doctrine per se as say, General Musharraf for his four-point formula on Kashmir. But Bajwa will be recalled for his five-hour conversation with a bunch of 40 Pakistani journalists last month. At least nine points from Bajwa’s thoughts stood out.
First, Bajwa said that he had no intention of derailing democracy and, in fact, took credit for breaking the Barelvi siege of Islamabad.
Second, if martial law had to be imposed, politicians would be responsible for it.
Third, the Army fully backed the judiciary which has backed the Army in the ultimate revenge of banning former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from politics for life. Sharif is one of Pakistan’s most popular, pro-India, pro-business Prime Minister who is hounded out by the Army.
The Musharraf coup may never have happened had Sharif not tried to appoint a new Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), the chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt General Sultan Mahmood and not allowing the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft carrying General Musharraf returning from an Army Day celebration from Colombo to land in Karachi.
The Army has been firing off the shoulders of the judiciary in other ways to build and break politicians and political parties. Bajwa wants a hung Parliament with a weak Government, though ideally, he would want Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan to become the Prime Minister.
Fourth, Bajwa criticised the state of the economy, attacking frontally, former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for only 1.2 million out of 210 million Pakistanis paying tax.
Fifth, he reiterated that Pakistan was not seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan and wanted peace with Afghanistan and Iran.
Sixth, on India, he emphasised that Pakistan was not a hostile neighbour but if provoked, it would use all in its power to defend the motherland, adding that there could be no compromise on Kashmir. He noted that there could be no war between two nuclear neighbours and lamented India’s obstinacy in refusing to resume dialogue as he would back the Government in normalising relations.
Seven, in relations with the US, he stressed on non-confrontation and dialogue but warned Pakistan would not be intimidated by the US. At the Munich Security Conference he said: “I can say with pride and conviction that there are no organised terrorist camps on our side of the border and that of 130 terrorist attacks in Pakistan’s border area, 123 were conceived, planned and executed from Afghanistan.”
US Defence Secretary James Mattis, who gave Pakistan ‘one last chance’ last year to act against the Taliban and the Haqqani network, made the implausible observation that there have been behavioural changes in Pakistan since Donald Trump’s South Asia and Afghanistan policy speech of August 2017 in which he praised India for its work in Afghanistan.
He cited the fatwa by 1,800 Islamic scholars against suicide bombing. An unnamed US official monitoring Pakistan’s counter terrorism campaign said: “We have not seen sufficient decisive action against Lashkar-i-Tayyeba and Jaish-e-Mohammed as Pakistan is doing bare minimum.” US doublespeak is evident though Trump’s famous last words on Pakistan in his first New Year tweet were: “All we have got from Pakistan is nothing but lies and deceit.”
Lastly, Qamar Javed Bajwa observed that there was Saudi Arabia and China ‘on our side’. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week in London described Pakistan as a terror factory, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Hua Chunying jumped in to its rescue, praising Islamabad’s counter-terrorism efforts.
Bajwa has pledged to de-weaponise Pakistan, citing Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad which acts only against bad terrorists. There is no Bajwa Doctrine, as there is no Doval Doctrine. In Husain Haqqani’s book, the Bajwa Doctrine is hatred of India, Muslim first and revenge for East Pakistan.
(The writer is a retired Major General of the Indian Army and founder member of the Defence Planning Staff, currently the revamped Integrated Defence Staff)
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