Military power is never about the number of troops, tanks, ships or aircrafts. If military power was all a country needed to establish superiority, America would not have been beaten by Vietnam, the Soviet Union would not have been routed by Afghan tribes and the juggernaut that is thewould not have been held at bay by a few thousand Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.
A country’s military power is actually determined by a combination of economic realities, governance frameworks, national will and strategic thinking – which work together to deliver a punch worthy of its weight.
Comparing India’s military power to Pakistan’s from this perspective actually yields a startling conclusion.
In 1999, Pakistan’s army chief at the time was mid-air when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided to sack him.Denied permission to land in Pakistan and faced with the option of making an emergency landing on Indian soil, the sacked general decided to land in Karachi anyway. He communicated his orders to his military subordinates through the civilian aviation channel and by the time his plane landed, Pervez Musharraf was firmly back in the saddle while Sharif had been toppled off his. That is the power of the Pakistani military.
Now compare the Pakistani army’s swiftness to India’s handling of the Kandahar hijacking in 1999. When the Indian Airlines flight was taken over by terrorists and parked in Amritsar over the course of its long journey, the Indian establishment could not decide between blocking the aircraft’s departure or letting it go. That ambivalence cost India the advantage it had in being able to control events happening on its own turf.
Three nuances of national strength
Three strategic realities India cannot overlook
Using economic leverage to influence Pakistani economy
Expose and target value chains of Pakistan’s military businesses
Combine ‘strategic depth’ with ‘strategic stretch’
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