It is famously said that freedom has a price; hence it is not for free. Defending the frontiers demands an unflinching collective resolve, sacrifice, and determination. It flows from the will of the nation which is personified by our valiant defence forces, comprising men and women who choose to sacrifice their lives to safeguard the nation’s honor and protect it from internal and external threats. While policies and strategies for defending the frontiers of the motherland are formulated, due weightage and consideration is given to the prevailing geostrategic environment, capabilities of other competing nations, and retaining/enhancing our own power potential to thwart all possible dangers to national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Thus far, as we are standing at a critical juncture for promoting peace and stability in the region, a review of neighborly countries’ behaviour on the eastern and western borders, their recent-past policies, defence capabilities and emerging security scenarios is of great importance. Given the volatile situation of the region and both overt and covert threats posed by the enemy, a potent force is required to counter the challenges.
In the East, India – a revisionist state – that has a centuries’ old agenda of Hindutva, chose a leader for themselves who subscribes to the same ideology and has allowed the Hindutva ideology to become entrenched in the whole country, in the religious and social spheres, which is especially dominant in politics. The country’s aggressive and revisionist behavior as well as territorial disputes with the neighboring countries signifies its infuriation with the prevailing scenario. All these developments are taking a toll on the minorities in India, the Kashmiri population and pose a serious threat to India’s neighboring countries, especially Pakistan, as well as to regional peace and stability. Pakistan, on the other hand, has always shown a rational and non-belligerent approach for peace in the region, but it has to be a collective desire of all key regional players.
The BJP-led government has taken various steps to rob Kashmiris of their identity as a part of Indian government’s majoritarian agenda to make Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir a Hindu region. It is encouraging that a ceasefire along the LOC is being observed, which has returned peace and normalcy for the common Kashmiris living along the LOC, yet the major steps by India are awaited to check the ongoing process of demographic changes. A continuously rising Indian defence budget, which has gone beyond seventy billion dollars, should be a matter of concern for us as well as other countries. India’s present defence budget is almost seven times more than Pakistan’s defence allocations, and the existing gap should never be ignored. With due care to nicely framed words and peace proclamations, a matching defence capability carries a better deterrent value, and is in fact a more stable guarantor of peace.
In the west, despite a clear roadmap and Pakistan’s best efforts to play a constructive role in order to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan, the issues keep surfacing owing to the regional security dynamics, and the external spoilers. It has long been established that any development in Afghanistan has a bearing on Pakistan’s stability and security. With another brotherly Islamic country sharing the southwestern border, despite wanting enhanced cooperation, Pakistan is often pushed into a difficult situation as the issues keep simmering from time to time. Pakistan’s sincerity towards peace on the western frontiers is amply proved by fencing its international border with Afghanistan. In fact, this is a ‘peace fence’, which will prove as an effective measure not only against terrorists’ cross-border movement but also in curbing narco-trafficking and other smuggling activities. Pakistan’s fencing of the international border with Iran also has the same ‘peace objectives’.
Apart from these obvious threats, there are indirect threats posed by an enemy that resorts to hybrid warfare, employing multiple means to meet its goals and ambitions in the short and long terms that fall below the threshold of armed conflict. Deterring such threats has to be a collective endeavor with a whole-of-the-nation approach. While Pakistan Armed Forces, along with the support of the nation, have eliminated and valiantly countered all threats that were thrust upon us with the contributions and countless sacrifices which have rendered the enemy ineffective, we must make sure that we don’t go off balance amidst the countless challenges imposed upon us that are a serious threat to our national interests and security.
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