2 minute readPakistan Army COIN tactics counter-productive

The operations conducted by the Pakistan Army in Buner and Swat have raised questions as to the tactics employed by them and whether such methods would result in the Taliban swelling its ranks.

Recent reports have indicated the army to be using heavy firepower indiscriminately, resulting in the destruction of entire communities and the creation of what could become a major refugee problem. This could also result in the Taliban gaining more support and adherents from the communities facing the brunt of the army offensive.

A senior Indian Government source compared the Indian Army, having had extensive experience in counter-insurgency operations, with the forces conducting the operations in Buner and Swat.

“The problem is the Pakistan Army is only trained for conducting conventional warfare. They have no concept of handling counter-insurgency operations and it seems they have no wish to learn,” he said, adding, “They are lacking in the kind of counter-insurgency training we give to our troops,” referring to India’s reputed Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare (CIJW) School, where even US armed forces personnel have received training.

The source elaborates on the problems faced in conducting counter insurgency operations, “The number of militants as targets are very few, compared to the population size. So identification is difficult. For population management, we involve the local law and order machinery, even units of female security forces.”

While admitting the Pakistan Army is facing greater opposition than the Indian Army does in Jammu and Kashmir or the Northeast, he says this is not a license to disregard human rights issues.

“The war-waging ability of the Taliban is much greater. But that does not mean the forces act in complete contravention of human rights. In our operations, we try to respect human rights,” he says, having himself been involved in counter insurgency operations.

He also thinks the Pakistan Army’s tactics should be smarter and perhaps, more sincere. “You can’t just go and open up a barrage on entire villages. By doing that you will become the recruiting sergeant for your opposition. Your operations have to be targeted. Your intelligence has to be reliable,” he says, asking further, “Why aren’t the Pakistan Army targeting their supply lines? Where are they getting their weapons and ammunition from? If the Taliban can target NATO supply convoys heading to Afghanistan at will, why are you unable to choke off their supplies? Or are you unwilling to do so?”

So what do you think?