Canadians of Convenience Insult Canadians Who Serve & Poses Larger Problem in South Asia
A CANADIAN OF CONVIENENCE POINTS TO A GREATER PROBLEM
A Canadian of convenience and his reported activities in Pakistan against a minority Islamic sect point to a larger problem. An old English army officer friend who was a well-known, prolific writer, once told me that when he "was concerned by threats to his country and to democracy that he reached for his word processor." He believed deeply in the old-adage that, "the pen is mightier than the sword."
I read Stewart Bell's excellent article this morning http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/luckily-i-escaped-man-accused-of-role-in-pakistan-mosque-attack-tells-of-his-return-to-canada on a Canadian accused of being involved in a terrorist attack on a minority Muslim sect in Pakistan and his 'escape' back to Canada. As someone who has served his country in a minor way, and whose friends have served this country big time, few things bother me more than Canadians of convenience who do bad things abroad, and then run home to Canada to hide. The individual in question reportedly says he, and the crowd he was with, were "provoked" to carry out the violence against a minority Islamic sect. So it is alright to butcher those that provoke you. Sadly, there is a mindset that says that if you are a minority Islamic sect that you are a form of blasphemy to be converted or destroyed. Violence against the Shia minority in Pakistan is commonplace. It is ironic that the Trudeau government would not identify this Sunni majority violence against an Islam minority sect within the religion as a form of Islamophobia now being debated in Parliament. But that measure is about wedge politics and baiting the opposition and not about human rights. Islamophobia is a different discussion for another day but this does bring me to the point of stating the obvious, that Pakistan is a very fragile state, in a very politically charged region, in terms of the geo-strategic situation. Sadly, that situation has gotten worse and not better over time.
It is provocation that concerns us all today between India and Pakistan. India has essentially formalized its 'Cold Start' strategic doctrine that calls in the event of hostilities with Pakistan for rapid armor-led spearheads of troops to move into Pakistan to prevent the Pakistani military from using tactical nuclear weapons to repel the attack. If the Pakistanis are forced to use them, it will be on Pakistani soil. Both powers India and Pakistan have strategic level nuclear forces to bush each other’s cities and those of their neighbors and there is a degree of deterrence in this that neither wants to risk their cities and citizens in a nuclear exchange. India and Pakistan both have tactical nuclear devices of short range that might be used in a war. Here there is a difference. With India’s massive conventional army poised to launch into ‘Cold Start’ at any sign of hostilities, Pakistan has forward deployed its tactical nuclear forces and likely lessened or delegated down control of these nuclear weapons and their use to unit commanders rather than the senior military leadership of the country. It is concerning that Pakistan or any country for that matter would be so cavalier about the first use of nuclear weapons but it is the case.
This constitutes two clear problems. It constitutes a problem of command and control and it constitutes a problem in that it is highly destabilizing. The Indian strategy of ‘Cold Start is not much better in that it comes with a whiff of or a presumption of pre-emption. The best way for Pakistan to avoid pre-emption is to strike those forward deployed Indian forces first with tactical nuclear weapons hoping that India will not go forward with a full-blown strike at Pakistani cities. The rational for strategic deterrence here is that the Pakistanis could then do the same to India and its cities and its inhabitants. The Pakistani gamble would be that the Indians pull back after a tactical exchange. But there is a further danger in this devolution of command and control of Pakistan’s tactical nuclear forces in that the country suffers from Islamic extremism, terrorism and that the government sometimes supports terror and sometimes does not. If command and control devolves down to lower commanders, then there is always a chance that terrorists could get their hands on nuclear weapons and use them when and where they wish. In the past, there have been terrorist attacks on sites where it is believed Pakistan has stored its strategic level nuclear weapons. To carry out these assaults it is very likely that the terrorists had a degree of insider knowledge and perhaps even assistance.
Which brings be to my final points. The levels of paranoia, and distaste between both South Asian states remains high. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence is famous for its paranoia, split personality, and flirting with Islamic terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It is Pakistan’s attachment to provocation with India and both sides pre-occupation with pre-emption that should be a concern to us all, and be deeply troubling to the new Trump administration. As he did in the Western Pacific with China and North Korea, President Trump needs to dispatch Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, to lay down the law to both sides, but particularly, Pakistan, before they stumble into war, and national extinction.