Vol. I Issue. 35
Army endorses AfPak deal on Taliban
10 December 2012

The 155th Corps Commanders' conference held on December 7, 2012, endorsed the current round of talks between Afghanstan and Pakistan on the issue of reconciliation with the Taliban. The meeting, chaired by General Ashfaq Kayani, resolved that "Pakistan would facilitate the Afghan government's peace dialogue with the Taliban and take all possible steps to make it successful".

Kayani, during his briefing to the Corps Commanders, discussed the meeting he had with European civilian and military leaders early this month. Kayani had accompanied Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Brussels.

On Dec. 3, Kayani had addressed a joint meeting of the Political and Security Council and the European Union Military Committee at Brussels.Dated: Monday, December 3, 2012. Kayani reaffirmed Pakistan's wholehearted support to an Afghan-owned and led peace process. He also spoke about Pakistan's role in the war on terror and highlighted the sacrifices made by the security forces in dealing with terrorist groups. The meeting was attended by Ambassadors and other senior officials from 27 EU nations.

Pakistan media quoting un-named officials gave sparse details about the Corps Commanders conference. The commanders endorsed Kayani's view that the situation in Afghanistan must be resolved through dialogue and Pakistan will enable such reconciliation. The commanders also expressed that there must be a "responsible US exit" from Afghanistan because continued instability in the country would only worsen the regional security and stability.

The meeting also discussed cross-border attacks in Pakistan by Afghan-based terrorist groups. The meeting was briefed about the recent attacks on border poss in Dir, Chitral and Bajaur Agency. The Commanders discussed the military actions against militants in the tribal areas and affirmed that all possible actions must be taken to contain terrorism in the country. The Corps Commanders also discussed the India-Pakistan relations and the situaiton on the eastern border. Two other important items discussed were the ramificaitons of the recent Supreme Court judgements involving former military officials and the security situation in Karachi.

Ghauri missile test--did it fail?

As a nation, we are passing through a defining phase. We are critically looking at the mistakes made in the past and trying to set the course for a better future. Serious questions are being raised about the recent test firing of the Medium Range Ballistic Missile Hatf V or Ghauri on November 28. Though the army has claimed success in achieving the milestones, the discovery of metal parts from the missile in Dadu, a remote area in Sindh, has raised doubts about the claim. The army said the metal parts were part of the motor body which had separated from the missile as planned within the safety corridor. There are no reports of loss of life or property.

The liquid fuelled missile can carry conventional as well as nuclear warheads over a distance of 1300 kms. Ghauri missiles, built at Kahuta, are test launched from the Maksood testing range next to Jhelum Cantt. in northern Pakistan. The landing site for tested missiles is either the Sonmiani Testing Range, west of Karachi or the Thal Firing Range in central Punjab--either way a flight path of 1000 kms.

Officials sources said the the launch was carried out by the Strategic Missile Groups of the Army Strategic Forces Command at the end of a field training exercise and was aimed at testing the command's operational readiness. The launch was monitored by the National Command Centre's Strategic Command and Control Support System. The System, media reports said, is designed to ensure command and control capability of all strategic assets "with round the clock situational awareness in a digitized network centric environment to decision makers at the National Command Centre".

In the midst of claims and denials, there were media reports, supplemented with photographs as evidence, which claimed that the missile had disintegrated during its test flight. The proof is in the nature of debris which fell in Dadu, a remote area in southern Sindh. The debris was retrieved by the security forces. Photographs of the debris showed one piece marked "flight control computer" and another show a "a mass of wires among tubular metal pieces".

This is the third time, the missile had failed during a test flight. The missile was bought from North Korea by former nuclear scientist AQ Khan in the late 90s. During its first test in 1998, the missile had broken up. In another incident, the missile had strayed into Iranian territory, inviting a diplomatic protest from the Iranian authorities.

Naval Strategic Forces Command

New batch of officers, 550 in number, from Pakistan Navy are being deputed to protect the nuclear weapons and other strategic assets as part of the 20000-strong security contingent under Strategic Plans Division (SPD). The division is responsible for the security and control of the nuclear assets in Pakistan. The naval batch is the new security element entrusted with the security of Pakistan's nuclear assets. Till recently, it was the sole prerogative of the army's Strategic Forces Command and SPD. The introduction of naval elements in the nuclear command and control structure indicates the rapid progress being made in acquiring a second strike capability. The command had come into existence formally in May this year when its headquarters was inaugurated in Islamabad. In a statement, the military said the command will perform a pivotal role in development and employment of the Naval Strategic Forcee" and will be the "custodian of the nation's 2nd strike capability". Pakistan analysts have speculated in the past tha the naval command will have the submarine-launched variant of Hatf-VII or Babur cruise missile. The Naval Strategic Force Command is headed by Rear Admiral Shah Sohail Masood. The command headquarters was inaugurated in May this year.

General Wynne in Germany

General Khalid Shameem Wynne, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee recently returned from a visit to Germany. During his stay, he participated in the Second Round of Defence and Security Dialogue. He discussed matters of mutual interest, including Afghanistan situation, with his counter parts in Germany. He also spoke to diplomats and military leaders about the security situation in the reigon as well as the challenges faced by Pakistan.