The Armed Forces of Pakistan
by Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema
New York: New York University Press, 2003. 240 pp. $38.
Reviewed by Brian Cloughley
formerly, deputy head, U.N. mission in Kashmir
Middle East Quarterly
Cheema sketches the regular armed forces of Pakistan adequately enough but his description of Pakistan's nuclear capability is parochial and inaccurate; and there are but thirty-one lines concerning joint command and control—one of the most important issues facing Pakistan's (and India's) government and defense services. The unequivocal admiration for the military regime (it is praised for "comprehensive reform programs," for "reviving the health of Pakistan's economy," and for "relations with almost all countries hav[ing] considerably improved") adds a weird touch to the study. This slavish approval of the military regime detracts from any semblance of objectivity.
And how is it that the author covers events in January 2002 but fails to mention the Kargil episode of 1999 which almost led to all-out war with India, much less subsequent developments in force structure and command and control? The illegal incursion by troops of the Northern Light infantry into Indian-administered Kashmir violated the Simla agreement and the Lahore declaration and had enormous impact on Pakistani-Indian relations and major influence on defense matters at all levels. The aftermath of Kargil involved reexamination by both countries' defense forces of crucial aspects of land and air warfare. That Cheema ignores the Kargil debacle (which it was for both countries) means The Armed Forces of Pakistan is not a serious contribution to understanding Pakistan's defense posture.
Other problems: The over 100,000 paramilitary forces are ignored, despite their importance in Baluchistan and in the North West Frontier Province (for, among other tasks, tracking down al-Qai'da fighters). Cheema's claim that "Pakistan's missile program, by comparison [with India's], is both limited and reactive in nature" is absurd, as made clear by the 2002 report for Congress "Kashmir: Recent Developments and U.S. Concerns," which notes the forward deployment of tactical missiles at the time of Kargil.
To omit the Kargil affair in a book about Pakistan's defense forces is to write Hamlet without the ghost. To treat tri-service command and control so lightly is regrettable. To praise without qualification the Musharraf military regime is bizarre.
 At http://www.fas.org/man/crs/RL31481.pdf.
Related Topics: South Asia | Spring 2003 MEQ
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