Is Azm-e-Nau-III A Message To India?April 19, 2010
Hamid Mir & Muhammad Anis
BAHAWALPUR: In an unprecedented move, the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) exhibited their professional capabilities by targeting a drone in front of not only the prime minister, many federal ministers and parliamentarians belonging to different parties but also more than 30 military attaches of different countries, who witnessed the heavy firepower of the Pakistani armed forces on Sunday afternoon in the desert of Khairpur Tamewali near Bahawalpur.
The presence of the country’s top political leadership in a very hot desert boosted the morale of Army troops, who have been engaged in a six-week-long Azm-e-Nau-III military exercise for the last few days.
More than 50 parliamentarians watched the joint attack of the Pakistan Army tanks and the PAF fighter planes against an imaginary enemy for more than two hours. There was lot of excitement when it was announced that a drone with the name of Shahbaz appeared in the sky. Within seconds, this drone was successfully destroyed by anti-aircraft guns. All the politicians and military officials happily clapped with signs of new confidence on their faces. This whole event gave three clear messages.
The first message was about the unity of civilian and military leadership. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar arrived in the exercise area around 10:30 am. Parliamentarians from the PPP, the PML-N, the ANP, the JUI-F, the PML-Q, many retired generals and media persons were also there at the same time but Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani arrived at around 11:00 am. General Kayani saluted him and gave him full respect in front of national and international media. The message was very clear that the military leadership is firmly standing behind the civilian leadership.
The second message was about the capabilities of the Pakistan Army and the Air Force. The Pakistan Army used homemade Al-Khalid tanks and Anza Mark II missiles while the PAF used not only US-made F-16s but also locally assembled JF-17 Thunder aircraft. The massive firepower of Al-Khalid tanks and JF-17 Thunder proved that locally-made weapons are as good as the imported ones. When this scribe asked PAF chief Rao Qamar Suleman that can you target drones coming from across the border? He responded: “We can target anything coming from across the border provided we have orders from the government.”
Gunners of the Pakistan Army destroyed many visible targets in the air by Anza missiles. These shoulder missiles are produced by the laboratory of Air Defence Weapons System Division of Dr AQ Khan Research Laboratories. Many people mentioned the name of Dr AQ Khan with respect during the lunch and said that success of Anza is actually the success of Dr AQ Khan.
The third message of this Azm-e-Nau exercise is for India. This exercise is going on in areas close to the Indian border. The Indians had conducted a big military exercise “Hind Shakti” in May 2009 along the Pakistani border. Another exercise was conducted close to Pakistani borders in February 2010. The Indian Air Force was also part of this exercise and more than 30 Delhi-based military attaches witnessed that exercise. These were the times when the Pakistan Army was heavily engaged in fighting Taliban militants in Swat and Bajaur. These days the Pakistan Army is conducting another big operation in South Waziristan, Khyber and Orakzai. The Pakistan Army has sent around 40,000 troops in and around North Waziristan recently. On the other side, India planned a big exercise in mid April this year with the name of “Yodh Shakti” in Thar desert close to the Pakistan border. One can say that Azm-e-Nau-III exercise of the Pakistan Army is a clear message to India that ìyes we are heavily engaged on western border but we are also vigilant on the eastern borderî.
Many observers noticed the presence of former CJCSC General (retd) Ehsanul Haq, General (retd) Aziz Khan, General (retd) KM Arif and many other retired senior officers according to the old traditions of the Pakistan Army. Who made this event possible? Certainly, a lot of credit goes to General Kayani.
Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Gilani underlined the need for high state of preparedness to guarantee peace and security. He said under the current global and regional environment, maintenance of peace and security was a key strategic objective of the armed forces.
Gilani pointed out that Pakistan’s military strategy was based on credible minimum deterrence. “Our democratic system, economic potential, vibrant population, national unity, consensus and armed forces all provide strategic stability against all possible threats to our great country,” he said.
The prime minister said Pakistan was standing as a bulwark against forces of extremism and militancy while bearing a very heavy cost to its economy and prosperity. “The world today finds Pakistan standing as a bulwark against forces of extremism and militancy,” he said, adding: “It is in this struggle where nation pledges to support armed forces in spirit, with its youth and its entire resources.”
Prime Minister Gilani said Pakistan and its armed forces are fully committed in a fierce struggle on its western border and are continuing to retain their capability to deal with all possible threats in the region. He said he was sure that the feat could be rivalled by no military in the world.
The prime minister said he also urged the world leaders to come forward and share the responsibility in helping Pakistan fight the menace of terrorism for global peace. “Never in the history of the country, the Pakistan Army and the PAF were so integrated,” General Kayani said on the occasion.
The Army chief said the Azm-e-Nau-III was conceived and executed as a concept validation exercise; a part of the “eternal preparedness” philosophy of the Pakistan Army. He said the exercise has helped in evolving a timely and effective response to emerging challenges.
“We are focused to the defence of Pakistan and fully capable of defending Pakistan today,” he said. General Kayani pointed out that Pakistan understands significance of peace and was committed to stability in the region but the preparedness for self-defence was its right.