/ Published May 09, 2016
Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War, by C. Christine Fair. Oxford University Press, 2014, 347 pp.
C. Christine Fair, PhD, is a South Asia specialist and educator at Georgetown University. Previously, she served at the RAND, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan, and the United States Institute of Peace. Her direct experience makes this book key reading for those following South Asia.
Since Pakistan’s creation in the 1947 partition, which isolated it from India, the nation has been a wellspring of insecurity. The author states this is because Pakistan is driven by a klatch of military officers whose desires exceed their abilities. Despite the fact that Islamabad has lost several wars with India and has close ties with numerous terrorist groups, the controlling standards behind Pakistan’s vital interests and national security decision-making procedures remain sympathetic toward the United States, including the latter’s counterterrorism efforts.
Fair utilized Pakistani sources, including defense journals, as the foundation of her work. With this grounding, Fair is able to legitimately illustrate how perceptions of Pakistan’s military leadership has formed the national security point of view. As per their own particular explanations, the Pakistan armed forces is the watchman of the country's belief system and society. Fair’s treatment of the Pakistan military covers the nation's human science, ideology, religious direction, and military ethos. Utilizing a holistic, heuristic approach, she deftly clarifies how Pakistan under the control of its armed force has been, continues to be, and will remain a destabilizing due to its own weaknesses and those of its neighbors.
The Partition of India, which fractured the colony into the two rival states, left India in possession of most of the land, administrative capabilities, assets, and establishment of the British colonial government. Pakistan, birthed in a clamorous environment, needed to devise—on the fly—a separate national personality, society, military, government, and unifying culture. Looking to build up a character totally different from that of its bigger and better-resourced Indian neighbor, the Pakistani armed forces took control of the country and began to oppose New Delhi, diving instantly into a war over Kashmir. The author outlines the neurosis of Pakistan’s military, which views India and Kashmir as an ideological issue rather than a genuine security one. Because of the enthusiastic yearning to match India’s national abilities, military commanders in Islamabad will continue to pursue foolhardy strategies toward New Delhi. The mobilizing cry has been to pit “Muslim” Pakistan against “Hindu” India, despite the large Sikh, Muslim, and Buddhist populations in India. The discussion of Kashmir as a highly strategic and valuable piece of real estate has been discussed ad nauseam—as has Pakistan’s unwavering jealousy toward India’s possession of that territory. Because Pakistan has proven itself incapable of winning a routine war against India, the military has decided to participate in guerrilla fighting, using intermediaries, terrorism, and other unconventional means of waging war.
India has conclusively won each war between the two countries and sees no compelling reason to make any concession to Pakistan. Yet the officers in Islamabad still anticipate that New Delhi will respect their demands, which, irrationally, grow after each defeat. While India has cultivated a sensibly effective democracy and financial system, Pakistan has gone totally in the other direction with various military autocracies and an economy that needs monstrous support from the World Bank and international donors to subsist. Pakistan’s military forcefully sought nuclear weapons with the goal of military parity with India, in spite of wilting global sanctions. Because of its backing for various terrorist groups, Pakistan came extremely near being pronounced a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States
As Fair elucidates upon the Pakistani armed force’s major missteps, she proposes that the gulf between the national capacities of Pakistan and India will continue to expand in New Delhi’s favor. The more Islamabad, under the full influence of the Pakistani armed forces, resists the results of its activities, the harsher the inevitable results will be—whether militarily, financially, politically, or diplomatically.
The officers in Islamabad are willing to endure perpetual military annihilations to look for an unattainable advantage versus New Delhi and enhance their position in Kashmir. This mind-set prompts an unending tension that appears nonsensical to the Western world. The Pakistani armed forces control the state and each contraption available to it and use state organs for its own ends. One of the top priorities is serving as the gatekeeper and defender of Pakistan’s interestingly Islamic character. From this worldview, the battle with India is seen as a civilizational one, with existential consequences if Islamabad respects New Delhi. Seen through this perspective, triumph is not cast in military terms—as it is unachievable in any case. Triumph is found instead in not yielding any point of order to India. This sense of false confidence has allowed military to perpetually run the nation through revisionist propaganda, preposterous assertions of might, and an inclination to start a conflict as an issue of pride.
Dr. Fair’s book has a place on the rack of those inspired by US strategy or military undertakings in South Asia. It is additionally vital for those who are exploring the sources of strategic conflict in South Asia and examining the Pakistani military’s sponsorship of terrorism and support for Indian insurgents.
"The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense."