India confident of getting into NSG, says External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj | India is working with China to win support | India will not oppose any country's membership proposal, EAM told a news conference | India gets first women fighter pilots | A history was created when the three women fighter pilots conferred with the President’s Commission | The pilots are Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi, Flying Officer Bhawana Kanth and Flying Officer Mohana Singh | The commissioning ceremony, witnessed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, held at Air Force Academy, Dundigal | India joined the select few nations in the world that have women fighter pilots in their Air Forces | Boeing, Tata Establish Aerospace Facility in Hyderabad | Defence Minister Parrikar initiated the ground-breaking ceremony to establish the facility | India's indigenous Basic Trainer Aircraft HTT-40 takes to the skies on inaugural flight June 17 | Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar witnessed the flight in Bangalore | The HTT-40 was built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd | HTT-40 all set to be the IAF's trainer aircraft | Civil Aviation Ministry Unveils New Civil Avaition Policy | IAF MiG-27 Crashes near Jodhpur | The aircraft was airborne from Jodhpur Air Base and was on a routine training-flying sortie | The two pilots, onboard the fighter jet, ejected to safety | A Court of Inquiry ordered to investigate the accident | After Switzerland, Mexico supports India's entry into NSG | Modi thanks Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto after bilateral talks | Modi receives unprecedented applause in US Congress | Recalling Abraham Lincoln, Modi describes Capitol Hill as a Temple of Democracy | India will never forget the solidarity shown by the US against 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008 | Modi supports cooperation in maintaining Freedom of Navigation in the Seas | India, US Civil Nuclear Deal changed bilateral ties | Modi describes terrorism as a big global threat and calls for isolation of those who harbour terrorism | India joins MTCR | Italy, which had blocked india's entry into the missile control regime, let it happen this time | President Obama had promised US help to India, and he has fulfilled it just as Prime Minister Modi is visiting Washington | India had applied for membership on June 1, and as there was no objection, its entry was automatic | Modi lays wreath at Space Shuttle Columbia memorial | India-born Kalpana Chawla was among the seven astronauts who perished in the tragedy in 2003 | Modi also meets Sunita Williams, another India-born astronaut | Hillary Clinton winning Democratic nomination for US presidency | Formal announcement in July | Switzerland categorically supports India for NSG membership | Mexico also expected to express support as US anchors India's entry into MTCR and NSG | Indian PM Modi lands in Washington June 6 for a bilateral summit | Entry into MTCR likely to be announced June 7 or 8 | Italy agrees to India's entry in the Missile Technology Control Regime after return of both its marines held in India | Prime Minister Narendra Modi Embarks on 5-day 5-nation Tour June 4 | The Prime Minister is to Visit Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, US and Mexico from June 4-8 | PM Modi inaugurated Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam in Herat, Afghanistan | Mr Modi Conferred with the Highest Civilian Honour of Afghanistan 'Amir Amanullah Khan Award' | President Ashraf Ghani bestowed the award to PM Modi after inauguration of the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam | India Signs Hague Code against Missile Proliferation | India, US Sign Arrangement for the Exchange of Terrorist Screening Information June 2 | The Arrangement Signed by US Ambassador Richard Verma and Indian Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi |
  Pakistan Creates Army Commands  
 
By Brig Arun Sahgal (Retd) Published : June 2007
 
     
It appears that Pakistan has finally taken the decision to reorganize its operational deployment based on Corps to create three new geographical commands aimed at improving the operational efficiency and working of its land forces.
 

The Northern, Southern and Central Commands that are being created will be responsible for the administrative arrangements of the corps falling under their respective commands, according to a Pakistan Army official.

The official said while the establishment of the Northern and Southern Commands has been finalised, the Central Command was to be raised shortly. In keeping with the Indian Army practice, a three-star General (Lt. General) will head the regional commands.

The commanders for the two commands viz Northern and Southern are likely to be announced within a few weeks while that of the Central command will have to await formal orders.

The Pakistan Army would be the second arm of the Pakistan's defence forces having three separate commands. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) already has three commands.

According to Pakistani press reports, the headquarters of the proposed Southern Command will be at Quetta, provincial capital of Balochistan, while that of the Northern Command is yet to be determined. The two likely choices being discussed are either Gujranwala or Mangla.

In organisational terms the step to create regional commands can perhaps be attributed to the long outstanding demand of the Pakistani military to make higher decision making in Pakistani Army more rational.

Dealing with the collegiums of nine corps commanders is never easy. This is more so in the case of Pakistan where the generals are required to take not only professional military decisions but also deliberate on broader national political and governance issues.

It is important to highlight that while President Gen Musharraf may have the confidence of his corps commanders, there are also peculiar circumstances in which the Pakistani army is functioning; he refuses to step down as the Army chief thereby blocking promotion of others in the line to the coveted post.

That's why, Gen Musharraf has no option but to obtain consensus in almost all the decision making situations and keep dissent at the lowest levels.

The questions that arise are why the change at this stage?

Particularly as he is facing both civil unrest and fundamentalist backlash signified by fundamentalists holed in seminaries barely two km from the President House in Islamabad. Second, and an associated issue, is the implication both in terms of impact on the existing military hierarchy as also at the lower, functional level.

The two possible implications are:

1. A charitable one, that the restructuring has been under examination of the General Head Quarters (GHQ) for some time and has finally been accepted for approval after due debate and consideration. The rationale is that the span of control of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) was much too large and with duties both of the President and the army chief, Gen Musharraf was perhaps finding it difficult to devote adequate time, and thereby finding it difficult to manage the army's day-to-day affairs.

2. It could be an attempt to cut the fractious corps commanders down to size by diffusing their authority and cutting direct communication to the President and Islamabad, the seat of the government.

Does it mean that there are dissensions within the Pakistani military hierarchy or was Gen Musharaff finding it difficult to manage dissent - some of which is natural - within the collegium of Corps Commanders?

The fact that Gen Musharaff decided to implement the restructuring and then proceed on a three-nation tour, signify his confidence in his corps commanders. Their willingness and acceptance of Gen Musharraf's dictates indicates that they have decided to fall in line and accept the change as inevitable.

It needs to be highlighted that most of the Corps commanders are hand picked by Gen Musharaff and are personally loyal to him except perhaps the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff or the Vice Chief of the Army.

As an appeasement policy, both have been upgraded to full General's rank.

Nonetheless, if reports emanating from Pakistan are to be believed, there also appears to be growing signs of dissension between this troika of the Higher Military Command in Pakistan.

While it may be too early to speculate, given the fact that Gen Musharaff is facing increasing pressure internally as also from a resurgent Taliban, bringing these changes at this juncture with their potential to disturb the existing balance in power equations, does not make sense unless it is part of a larger game plan or a ploy to distance himself from the day to day functioning and lay the onus of operational and administrative efficiency on to the new Army Commanders.

Also it could be his attempt (under US influence) to distance the corps commanders from routine governance issues where the Army could be getting more and more involved to greater operational orientation.

GEOGRAPHICAL BOUNDARIES OF COMMANDS

Even more interesting than the creation of the commands is the location of their headquarters which allude to possible area of operational control of the newly created commands.

The Headquarters of Southern Command ordinarily should have been at Karachi or Malair Cantonment. However, as per reports, it will be at Quetta.

Does it mean the two corps falling under the operational jurisdiction of Southern Command is 12 Corps in Balochistan and 5 Corps in Sindh and Southern Punjab?

What inferences can be drawn form this?

It appears that Pakistan is giving greater salience to dealing with deteriorating internal security situation in Balochistan as also the security of economic assets along the Mekran coast, including the strategic Gwadar civil and naval port.

A question that arises then: is this being done as a matter of military judgment or part of politics of appeasement towards both the US (to deal with growing Taliban influence) and the Chinese (to protect their economic stakes?

Similarly what is the rationale of creating a Command HQ at Gujranwala or Mangla; is it to secure the vital hinterland comprising Punjab (Satluj - Chenab - Jhelum)? Will this include the existing 10 Corps of Pakistan that is operationally responsible for the Pakistani Occupied Kashmir and Northern Areas?

Alternatively will the Northern Command's area of operational responsibility extend to operational areas of Pakistani 4 and 10 Corps, i.e. with Punjab and J&K centric bias. Another question that arises is who will be operationally responsible for NWFP where Pakistan's 11 Corps is normally deployed?

Will this come under the soon to be created Central command with lateral division of responsibility encompassing 11 and 4 Corps?

Taking cognisance of peculiar politico military dynamics and the current problems of Gen Musharaff, it will not be wrong to assume that this latest development of creating army Commands is both an exercise in organisational restructuring as also related to his attempts to control the fractious corps commanders.

Developments in the near future will need to be watched carefully to understand the rationale and motivations behind this move.

 
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