What is Bajwa Doctrine? A myth or reality

What is Bajwa Doctrine? A myth or reality

ISLAMABAD - Dismissing what he called ‘misinterpretations’ regarding the ‘Bajwa Doctrine’, the DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor clarified at a press conference Wednesday last (March 28, 2018) that if there was a ‘Bajwa Doctrine’ per se, it was related to security concerns.

But he did not dwell in detail on what actually is meant by ‘Bajwa Doctrine’. Surely it could not have meant more of the same, that is continuing the war against militancy. In that case it would have been nothing more than a continuation of the post 2007 policy.

As it is being tossed around since US President Donald Trump’s tweet early this year which lashedout at Pakistan for being an unreliable ally it is possible that the ‘Bajwa Doctrine’ is our Chief of Army Staff’s well-thought out response to the tweet and to the punishing actions that Washington took subsequently against Islamabad.

This assumption seems to hold if one were to go through a mid-February article by Kamal Alam, a Visiting Fellow at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), an highbrow UK think tank.

Titled* ‘Bajwa Doctrine: The Pakistani Military Has Done More than Enough’*, the article asserts that ‘Bajwa Doctrine’ is in fact our COAS’ vision for the future US-Pakistani military cooperation in the age of President Trump.

“From their perspective, Pakistan has done more than enough to secure neighbouring Afghanistan, and is not intimidated by the threat of US funding cuts,” assesses Alam.

According to Alam, the message from the military is quite clear — US equipment is no longer the only option for Pakistan. In fact, Pakistan is actively buying hardware and producing more with China

The allegations contained in Trump’s tweet come as no surprise; this has been a common theme in Washington for the last decade, namely Pakistani duplicity in the War on Terror. However, since the Trump administration took office it is making good on the sticks that the Obama administration had threatened but never quite delivered.

Alam says the main difference this time around is that the Pakistanis are biting back.

“Pakistan is now adamant that the time for American threats and directives is over.” “Gone are the days of timidity and scurrying to please the Americans.”

This sweeping change in Pakistan’s approach to US threats, Alam says is spelled out in detail in what he calls ‘Bajwa Doctrine’, and ‘it suggests that the Pakistan Army should not do more, but rather the world must do more’.

According to Alam the Pakistani military is far more confident today than it was when the US threatened then President Pervez Musharraf to bomb Pakistan into the Stone Age if it did not comply with their demands.

The Army, he says, is now battle-hardened after 17 years of war on its western frontier and regular skirmishes on its eastern border.

According to Alam the Pakistan COAS General Bajwa has made it clear by saying it is now the word’s task to do more for Pakistan — it has done enough.

The world, Alam points out, in the shape of China, Russia, Turkey and Iran, have all come to Pakistan’s defence as the US loses influence in Islamabad.

“Pakistan is now adamant that the time for American threats and directives is over.”

In the opinion of Alam the Pakistani military is fully prepared to face any cuts in US military aid, as well the potential threat of cross border incursions by American forces, and feels that its global recognition and reputation of its counterterrorism efforts is very different to what it was in 2001.

Days after Trump announced the freezing of aid, Alam recalls Pakistan announced it would trade in the Chinese yuan.

Alam opines that as 2018 begins it is the US that needs Pakistan and not the other way around.

US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis has already said that he is in touch with the Pakistani military, as without them the US forces cannot move their equipment or survive in landlocked Afghanistan.

According to Alam Trump’s tweet has made Pakistan realise it has been wrong to trust the US for seven decades.

In the weeks following Trump’s tweet it has become evident that it has had little impact on Pakistan’s credibility in the international fight against terror. If anything it is the US who is scurrying around to please Pakistan.

Both Secretary Mattis and the commander of US Central Command General Joseph Votel have downplayed the media hype surrounding Trump and Pakistan. Votel, who has been a regular visitor to Pakistan, is at pains to say that the Pakistani military has done more than its share in the War on Terror. Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells as well has paid a couple of visits to Islamabad since the Trump tweet.

General Bajwa, has also made it clear that American money is not needed — it is respect they desire.

Alam points out that while there has been a downward trajectory of US aid to Pakistan, the Trump factor coupled with the threat of aid cuts seems to be a flash in the pan.

Pakistan has lived for more than a decade under US military sanctions since the 1985 Pressler Amendment, which made military and economic aid to the county conditional on an annual presidential determination that Pakistan did not have a nuclear weapon. In 1990, President George H W Bush was the first to withhold this determination. It was during these years from 1990 to 2001 that Pakistan developed its own military capability in conjunction with China. Similarly Turkey and Russia have stepped in to assist Pakistan with procurements of military helicopters — another key element of US military aid to Pakistan.

According to Alam the message from the military is quite clear — US equipment is no longer the only option for Pakistan. In fact, Pakistan is actively buying hardware and producing more with China.

Alam concludes: “The Pakistani military leadership’s message is clear, that the Army has restored Pakistan’s stability. Afghanistan’s stability is the responsibility of the Afghan government and US forces. In fact, the US still completely relies on Pakistani assistance for logistics and complete usage of airspace for its forces. The future, as far as the Pakistan Army is concerned, belongs to them.”

BY: M Ziauddin. *The writer is a senior journalist based in Islamabad. He served as the Executive Editor of Express Tribune until 2014*