“To achieve victory we must mass our forces at the hub of all power and movement. The enemy’s “centre of gravity.”
–Carl von Clausewitz
In a competitive examination 30 years ago, we were asked to briefly explain General von Clausewitz’s theory of the Centre of Gravity (CoG) and explain in detail its application in the context of India and Pakistan. It was an interesting challenge for young minds and I am reminded of that question after a lapse of three decades after reading a tweet from an American analyst well known for her anti-Pakistan Army stance.
I opined in 1990, that for Pakistan, the CoG was the cohesive integrity of the Armed Forces of Pakistan and for India it was their political system based on the founding principle of ‘Unity in Diversity’. Had this question been asked before 1971, perhaps my opinion about Pakistan’s CoG would have been different. Although my view was apolitical; yet, I remained conscious of the fact that maybe my opinion was biased as a person in uniform. As the years went by, internal, regional and international developments and the role played by Pakistan Armed Forces kept reminding me about the pertinence of my expressed views but with thirst for validation by a neutral expert. I felt greatly relieved and vindicated when I just read a tweet (shared by a friend) by sworn anti-Pakistan Army American political analyst Christine Fair: “For Pakistan state to collapse, it is basically Pakistan Army, which has to collapse. For better or worse, I do not see that happening”. Dr Fair’s tweet is also an eye opener for Army bashers in Pakistan, who with blinkers of corruption, foreign funding and misplaced self-serving political affinity, try to undermine their own security forces and intelligence institutions that amount to cutting the branch on which they are sitting.
The story of Pakistan is a well-known incessant struggle to survive in the face of numerous existential threats on internal and external fronts. The only effectively functional institution that has kept the national fabric from being torn apart is the Armed Forces of Pakistan, which despite effectively confronting hundreds of internal and external challenges remain the prime target of forces hostile to Pakistan. Unfortunately, the internal actors who thrive on corrupt practices under umbrellas of different shades join the antagonists’ chorus forgetting the debacle of losing East Pakistan where India trained, equipped and funded Mukti Bahni, orchestrated the biggest covert war in former East Pakistan by turning the locals against a small sized Army and exploited the political unrest to dismember Pakistan. Immediately after this greatest debacle in Pakistan’s history, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi gleefully announced, “we have taken revenge from Muslims for 1000 years of slavery”. Pakistan Armed Forces learnt the right lesson and developed a potent conventional punch besides nuclear deterrence. Pakistan Armed Forces’ role in defeating the former Soviet Union and victory against global war on terror is globally acknowledged with envy. The Kargil pincer still sends chills down the Indian spine. Although India, along with hostile forces has consistently attacked Pakistan on all national fronts including attempts to undermine our national ideology, culture, religion, economy, media, political and education system; yet, the main effort of Indian onslaught has remained focused on creating a bad image of the Pakistan Armed Forces (particularly Pak Army). Alhamdulillah, the Armed Forces remain steadfast and successful by blunting all offensive overtures by India and other hostile forces.
As for India, before Modi became prime minister in 2014, successive political governments effectively took care of their national CoG. However, the rise of the RSS/BJP Nazi Hindutva ideology manifested by Modi and his team by removing the mask of nonalignment and a tolerant democracy, spread Islamophobia in sync with POTUS Trump, which resulted in torturing Muslims all over India and more so in Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOJK). To further damage the India CoG, PM Modi abrogated article 35 A and 370 of Indian constitution depriving disputed Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, a year later declaring it part of India, the introduction of Kashmiri domicile to Indian citizens for quickly changing its demography to permanently enslave Kashmiri Muslims, made Sainik (military) colonies for retired Indian military personnel and the development of Special Industrial Zones for Hindu investors to take complete control of economy in IIOJK. RSS/BJP led the extreme maltreatment of the Muslim majority, coupled with other minorities including low-caste Hindus is badly shaking the CoG as the founding political principle of Unity in Diversity has been buried by Modi’s fanatic government. What started as demolition of Babri Masjid (mosque) for building Ram Mandir (temple), in the last six years has grown to turn India into a literal Hindustan i.e. a country only for Hindus where minorities have to either convert to Hinduism or leave India. That has also been institutionalised by enacting the Citizenship Amendment Act by Indian BJP government, depriving Muslims of Indian citizenship rights. Consequently, Hindustan is seeing the rise of more freedom struggles, more insurgencies and worse relationships with all neighbouring countries including China, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other SAARC countries. Indian economy is dwindling but Modi is busy in an arms race with China, further accentuating the miseries of millions of Indians living below the poverty line. In nutshell, the RSS/BJP government has exposed Indian vulnerabilities that directly pose threat to her national CoG; that is how Hitler was also blinded by his extremist Nazism.
Countries hostile to Pakistan relentlessly keep exploiting Pakistan’s political, economic, governance, corruption, ethnic and sectarian fault lines in order to keep Pak Army committed on undue multiple fronts in order to disturb the balance so badly needed to safeguard national CoG. The political and military leadership of Pakistan will be well advised if the subject phenomenon and concept is comprehended and heeded to by introducing out-of-the-box solutions sooner than later. Each nationality contains its centre of happiness within itself, as a bullet the centre of gravity.