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Pakistan 70th Independence Day

 

 

 

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Pakistan’s Foreign Policy and Current Challenges By Asif Haroon Raja

Pakistan’s Foreign Policy and Current Challenges

Asif Haroon Raja

Overview

Pakistan has, since birth, been faced with one crisis after another. The tense geopolitical environment created by hostile India and unfriendly Afghanistan was the motivating factor which impelled our leaders to accord preference to security over developing institutions and strengthening the economy. Security concerns governed our foreign policy.

Pakistan joined Western pacts mainly to find an umbrella to mitigate its security concerns. But the US never became a trustworthy and sincere ally, as was the case of former the Soviet Union with India. The western pacts proved elusive when Pakistan was truncated in 1971.

India had been working upon East Bengal since 1948 with the aim of subverting the minds of Bengalis and poisoning their minds against people of West Pakistan through an orchestrated subversion plan. It wanted to disprove Two-Nation theory. India in collusion with the former-the Soviet Union and supported by several other countries hatched the gory plan of the dismemberment of Pakistan. After nine months insurgency, Indian military jumped in to cut Pakistan to size and create Bangladesh. Indira Gandhi chortled that Two-Nation theory had been sunk into the Bay of Bengal.

In the aftermath of 9/11, another international conspiracy was hatched to dismember Pakistan. This time the conspiracy was much larger in scope and more dangerous in intent. Pakistan was to be befriended and then cut into four quasi-states. In this, India is being supported by USA, Afghanistan, Britain, Israel and the West in general. The tools in use are TTP, BLA, BRA, BLF, MQM and segment of media bolstered by bloggers, foreign paid NGOs and international media. Daesh is the latest group added to their arsenal.   

The goals are to destabilize, de-Islamise, denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan using covert means and psychological operations.

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan was made to fight terrorism on its soil, then accused of harboring terrorists in safe havens in FATA and aiding cross border terrorism in Afghanistan, occupied Kashmir and India, and then constantly pressed to do more. The terrorist groups in FATA, Baluchistan were funded, equipped and trained to fight and exhaust Pak security forces. MQM was funded and its militants trained in India to make Karachi lawless.

India and Afghanistan were projected as victims of terrorism and Pakistan as an incubator of terrorism. The covert war launched from Afghan soil in 2002 has incurred a loss of 60,000 fatalities, injuries to tens of thousands, destruction of property, $ 118 billion financial loss and immense social trauma.

Pakistan has come under a foreign debt of $70 billion.  

The US imposed War on Terror has heightened ethnicity, sectarianism, extremism, provincialism, political instability, economic fragility and moral degeneration of society as a whole.

As a result of these frailties, Pakistan which is a nuclear power with robust armed forces that are second to none has abundant resources and resilient manpower, it has become vulnerable to foreign coercion, manipulation, and aggression.

Of all the crisis faced by Pakistan in its 70 years history, the present one is perhaps the most dangerous, both in terms of its nature and its possible consequences. Without a doubt, Pakistan is in the vortex of grave dangers and the country today stands at the cusp of survival and disaster. The Titans that have marked Pakistan as a target are impatient to fragment it. 

Pakistan’s Foreign Policy

Having given the background and overall geopolitical environment, I shall now discuss the five stages through which Pakistan’s foreign policy has moved forward to confront multiple challenges.

Quaid-e-Azam MA Jinnah had spelled out Pakistan’s foreign policy soon after the birth of Pakistan in these words:

 “Our objective should be peace within and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial and friendly relations with our immediate neighbors and with world at large. We have no aggressive designs against any one. We stand by the United Nations Charter and will gladly make our contribution to the peace and prosperity of the world.” 

Our foreign policy is one of the friendliness and goodwill towards all the nations of the world. We do not cherish aggressive designs against any country or nation. We believe in the principle of honesty and fair-play in national and international dealings and are prepared to make our contribution to the promotion of peace and prosperity among the nations of the world. Pakistan will never be found lacking in extending its material and moral support to the oppressed and suppressed peoples of the world and in upholding the principles of the United Nations Charter.” 
Pakistan opened diplomatic relations with all the countries of the world except Israel owing to Palestinian dispute.  Successive regimes made concerted efforts to normalize relations with India but failed because of unresolved Kashmir dispute and India not reconciling to the existence of Pakistan. In its desire to become the unchallenged big power of South Asia, India whipped up a frenzy against all its neighbors. It applied multiple pressures on Pakistan and went to war thrice so as to force Pakistan to accept its hegemony and become its vassal state.

Pakistan in search of security and recognition

Pakistan started its journey as a nonaligned nation and remained the member of Non-Aligned Movement from 1947 till 1954. In the first 15 years of Pakistan’s life, the founding leaders remained deeply engrossed in establishing credentials of Pakistan’s statehood in the face of massive propaganda of India that Pakistan was a monstrosity. It was described as a transient phenomenon and Indian economic wizards had given six months life to Pakistan. International recognition was sought and obtained in those agonizing years. 

In its formative years, Pakistan attached importance to relations with Muslim countries and championed Muslim causes. Its efforts to build Muslim unity couldn’t make any headway. It cultivated special ties with Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan joined Western pacts

Aggressive posturing of India, its expansionist designs and intentions to absorb Kashmir, together with Afghanistan’s enmity, former USSR’s heavy tilt towards India, deepening economic crisis in early 1950s, sense of isolation, and the UN and Commonwealth failing to resolve the Kashmir dispute were some of the reasons which impelled Pakistan to join the US created SEATO and Baghdad Pact/CENTO in 1954/55. Thereon, its foreign policy was governed by the US interests.

Pakistan became part of the US defensive arc stretching to Iran and Turkey to contain the spread of communism in South Asia and the Middle East. Pakistan did so despite the fact that it had no direct clash with USSR, and had to pay a heavy price for it. When Pakistan acted as a conduit in 1971 to bring China closer to the USA, it further antagonized Moscow and it decided to teach Pakistan a lesson.

Alignment with the USA however, helped Pakistan in improving its economy and defense capability phenomenally during the 10-year Ayub’s golden era.

Tilt towards China

After the Indo-Sino border clash in 1962, in the wake of Moscow, Washington and the West providing arms to India at the cost of disturbing the regional military balance, Ayub Khan started tilting towards China and Russia. This move was seen as an act of defiance by the USA and it decided to penalize him. The US discriminatory attitude was discernible in the 1965 War with India when it stopped extending economic and military assistance including the supply of spare parts, whereas Russia kept supplying arms to India.

It is believed that both ZA Bhutto and Sheikh Mujib were cultivated to trigger agitations in both the wings to bring down Ayub regime and then pave the way for the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971.

Southwestern Asian Identity and policy of Bilateralism

After the 1971 tragedy, ZA Bhutto scrapped SEATO pact and membership of Commonwealth stating that those had proved worthless. He then tried to carve out Southwest Asian identity so as to draw economic strength and security from oil rich Arab States. This tilt towards the Gulf States brought in financial bonanza and job opportunities for Pakistan in the 1970s and also gave an opportunity to Pak military to make inroads into the GCC States. Saudi Arabia never hesitated to extend financial support to Pakistan in its testing times.

Another change in Pakistan’s foreign policy was affected by the Simla agreement in 1972 which led to the policy of bilateralism and non-alignment. Ceasefire line in Kashmir was renamed as LoC and Kashmir issue put on the back burner. India however, maintained its belligerent policy and carried out the nuclear test at Pokhran in August 1974, which impelled ZA Bhutto to go nuclear.

Afghan war (1980-1989)

Pakistan-US relations nosedived when Pakistan under Gen Ziaul Haq was put under sanctions in April 1979 by Carter regime on account of suspicion that it was pursuing nuclear program covertly. However, the Afghan war in the 1980s once again made Pakistan a close ally of USA and was bestowed with $3.5 billion assistance and F-16 jets.

Pakistan had to face Russo-Afghan-India nexus and Al-Zulfiqar terrorism (militant wing of PPP). The Afghan war brought Pakistan coolness in Pak-Iran relations but brought Afghanistan under Mujahideen very close to Pakistan. Both talked of providing strategic depth to each other.

Pakistan’s challenges in Post-cold war era

After the breakup of USSR in 1991 and end of Cold War era, Pakistan was faced with multiple foreign policy issues. The US abandoned Pakistan, imposed sanctions on it under Pressler Amendment and befriended India.

Pakistan was up against Indo-US-Israeli nexus geared toward destroying Kahuta plant.

The other issue was the fallout effects of the Afghan war in the form of Kalashnikov and drug cultures, the load of 3.5 million refugees, the radicalization of the society and sectarianism fomented by Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The other was the armed uprising in occupied Kashmir which forced India to pump in 750,000 security forces to quell the insurgency and to propagate that Pakistan was abetting it.

Pakistan had to bear with the domino effect of Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988).

And lastly, nuclear explosions by the two arch rivals in May 1998. Pakistan’s external climbed up. These challenges made the democratic era weak and uninspiring. Despite being repeatedly betrayed, Pakistan didn’t deem it fit to diversify its foreign policy and kept its hopes alive to get into the good books of USA.

Impact of 9/11

9/11 changed the global politics and Pakistan was once again befriended by the USA and made a coalition partner to fight the global war on terror as a frontline state. Pakistan for a second time shifted all its eggs in the basket of USA.

Between 2004 and 2008, Indo-Pak relations improved as a result of the peace treaty and resumption of dialogue, giving rise to optimism that core disputes will be resolved. Euphoria died down after the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 when India blamed Pakistan. Indo-Pak relations have hit rock bottom after Modi led BJP regime espousing Hindutva came to power in June 2014.

Ongoing fast changing global dynamics and ever growing strategic partnership between USA and India has impelled Pakistan policy makers to revisit the foreign policy and suitably modify it to meet the future challenges.

Pakistan’s current challenges

India has not reconciled to the existence of Pakistan and strives to reduce it to the status of a Satellite State.

India is a strategic partner of the US, Israel, Afghanistan and is the darling of the west. The trio is pursuing common objective of destroying Pakistan.

India is making concerted efforts to destabilize Pakistan through covert war, encircle Pakistan by consolidating its presence in Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics (CARs), building North-South Corridor linking Mumbai with Bandar Abbas; and connecting Chabahar with Afghanistan-CARs.

India is working hard to isolate Pakistan by tarnishing its image and spoiling its relations with Afghanistan, Iran, Gulf States and the US.

Kashmir is an internationally recognized dispute but India stubbornly maintains that it is its integral part well knowing that the Kashmiris hate Indians and want freedom at all cost.

To keep Pakistan on the defensive and force it to forget Kashmir, India is playing terrorism card, Baluchistan and Sindh cards, and water terrorism to bend Pakistan on its knees.

India’s Cold Start doctrine is aimed at offsetting Pakistan’s strategic nuclear doctrine and executing it at a time when the bulk of Pak forces had got pinned down in designated restive areas.

The upturn of Pakistan’s sunk economy and its image, control over energy crisis and terrorism coupled with development works and fast progressing CPEC have increased the anxieties of India. To give vent to its frustrations, it is carrying out unprovoked firing across the LoC and working boundary in Kashmir relentlessly.

For all practical purposes, Pakistan has fallen from the grace of USA and time is not far when it will be once again be ditched and put under harsh sanctions.

Indo-US-Israel agenda of disabling Pakistan’s nuclear program, or as a minimum curtailing its minimum deterrence capability remain unchanged.

Afghanistan under Hamid Karzai remained aligned with India and hostile to Pakistan. Afghan Unity government under Ghani-Abdullah is far worse.

Pak-Iran relations are frosty and practically, Iran is more close to India and Afghanistan.

Net outcome in 2017

Pakistan foreign policy makers are faced with perpetually hostile India, near hostile Afghanistan, and the changed attitude of the US. Washington has callously whipped Pakistan under its ‘do more’ policy and is now hurling warnings. It’s heavy tilt towards India is a matter of anxiety for Pakistan.

Iran nurtures grouses on account of Pakistan’s closeness with Saudi Arabia, and for sending Gen Raheel to Riyadh to head 41-member Sunni Muslim States Alliance.

Warmth in a relationship with the GCC States has diluted because of Pakistan not agreeing to send troops to Saudi Arabia to ward off the threat from Yemen. Saudi-Qatar tiff is another challenge faced by Pakistan since it cannot afford to take sides.

Pakistan has been deliberately kept politically unstable by making it play the game of ladder and snake so that it remains economically dependent. It was pulled down whenever it grew economically strong. That is why it has been lurching from one crisis to another in its 70 years checkered history.

Pakistan can ill-afford political disharmony and disunity at this critical juncture when black clouds are hovering over its horizon.

Geopolitical realities

Pakistan is faced with multiple threats of Indo-US-Afghan covert war, India’s Cold Start Doctrine, the US Af-Pak doctrine, and Hybrid war and all these threats have now become menacing.

The threat to its security has heightened after the signing of three Indo-US defense agreements in 2016 and the US openly expressing its enmity against Pakistan and love for India.

India is getting unnerved on account of high-intensity freedom struggle in occupied Kashmir, which is slipping out of its hands and is endangering the unity of India. India has no other choice except to keep persecuting the Kashmiris ruthlessly, keep the LoC on fire and to diplomatically place Pakistan on the back foot.

Muslim Pakistan, laced with nuclear/missile power and now getting economically strong due to CPEC is unacceptable to USA, India, and Israel. The trio may go to any extent to disrupt CPEC.

Pakistan is faced with the threat of two-front war from east and west, inauspicious southwestern backyard, vulnerable seacoast, not so friendly Gulf States, together with the internal war on terror and internal war on terror

Pakistan’s viable nuclear cum missile capability deters India from waging an open war.

Nuclear factor has compelled India to resort to indirect strategy to weaken Pakistan from within through unrelenting covert war, discredit and isolate it through propaganda and diplomacy, extract its nuclear teeth clandestinely, and then apply the military instrument through Cold Start doctrine.

Having tried out all possible means short of war, the only other option left with enemies of Pakistan is to create political chaos and logjam, paralyze the government machinery and then trigger civil war as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Many are suspecting a game plan behind the current political imbroglio.

The success of $21 trillion One-Road-One-belt projects of China hinges on successful completion of CPEC. In view of China’s ambition to become leading economic power and its heavy economic stakes in CPEC, it is bound to come to the aid of Pakistan whenever its security is threatened.

Pakistan is a target and not an ally of USA. Earlier Pakistan gets out of the enchantment of USA, better it will be.

Inferences

Any expectation of goodwill and empathy from India, Afghanistan under Ghani and USA, which in pursuit of their common objectives have been inflicting tens of thousands of cuts on the body of Pakistan and its people, will be foolhardy.

The newly appointed Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif in consultation with the new PM Khaqan Abbasi, CJCSC Gen Zubair Hayat, and Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa need to revisit the foreign policy at the earliest to make appropriate changes after correctly identifying friends and foes and accordingly diversifying the policy to meet the upcoming challenges.

Foreign policy instead of being defensive, apologetic and reactive, should be infused with dynamism and pro-activeness.

The change in foreign policy should not be abrupt, but gradual and orderly without violent fluctuations. The change should be akin to autumn changing into winter, or winter into spring.

While maintaining a working relationship with the USA, Pakistan should draw closer to China, Russia, Central Asia, SCO, and ASEAN.

Pakistan should work hard to bring Iran in the loop of China-Russia peace-talks initiative, possibly draw in Turkey and conjointly work to restore peace in war torn Afghanistan.

Pakistan must strive to establish a friendly regime in Kabul.

Surging Afghan Taliban and not the corrupt and inept unity government in Kabul toeing Indo-US agenda should be kept in the loop.

Pakistan should continue to play a mediatory role in the Iran-Saudi ideological rivalry and in Saudi-Qatar tiff to narrow down their differences and also allay the misperceptions of Gulf States on account of Yemen crisis. It will be unwise to call back Gen Raheel and detach Pakistan from 41-member Muslim Alliance.

CPEC should be made use of as a strong magnet by our foreign policy makers to attract as many nations from Central Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe to ward off Indian inspired threat of isolation.

Gwadar-Chahbahar economic rivalry should be converted into an opportunity to complement each other’s strength.

Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan. Comprehensive and pragmatic Kashmir policy should be devised to keep the cause of Kashmir alive.

Conclusion. While many developing countries have raced ahead, Pakistan is still struggling and has neither become an Asian tiger or a secure country. Political parties are behaving irresponsibly and are advised to shun politics of agitation and division and promote the concept of “Unity in Diversity”. Strong and united home front is the best defense against internal and external challenges.

 

The writer is a retired Brig, a war veteran, defense and security analyst, columnist, author of five books. He is Director Measac Research Centre, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Editor-in-chief “Better Morrow’ magazine, editor of website group ‘The Patriots’. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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“Capt” Safdar : A Blot on Sterling Reputation of Gentlemen Soldiers & Officers of Pak Fauj

 

 

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JIT says PM couldn’t ‘satisfactorily answer most of the questions’

JIT says PM couldn’t ‘satisfactorily answer most of the questions’

Updated July 12, 2017

In this file photo, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears after his nearly three-hour session with the Joint Investigation Team on June 15.
In this file photo, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears after his nearly three-hour session with the Joint Investigation Team on June 15.
 

KARACHI: The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing money laundering allegations found Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “could not satisfactorily answer most of the questions” during his appearance on June 15.

The JIT report, submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, said he was “evasive, speculative and non-cooperative”.

“He was generally evasive and seemed preoccupied during the interview,” the report said. “Major part of his statement was based on ‘hearsay’. He remained non-committal, speculative and at times non-cooperative while recording his statement before the JIT,” said the team’s analysis of the prime minister’s statement.

Editorial: 

From JIT to NAB

 

It went on to say that Prime Minister Sharif tried to “parry most of the questions” by giving indefinite answers or by stating that “he does not remember, ostensibly to conceal facts”.

Sharif insists his assets reflected in income tax returns, wealth statements

In his statement to the JIT, the prime minister gave details of his early life, his entry into politics and the offices he held during his three-decade-long political career.

He claimed that the assets he owned, possessed or had acquired “are, in their entirety, reflected in my income tax returns and wealth reconciliation statements”.

“I do not own or possess, nor have acquired any assets or interests therein other than those mentioned in my income tax returns and wealth reconciliation statements,” he stated.

He, however, informed the JIT that initially, he had been a shareholder and/or director in one or more companies established by his late father in Pakistan. But for about three decades “I have not been the director in any of those companies. In any case, I have not been actively involved in the business of any of those companies since 1985”.

“I became finance minister in 1981. I was not overseeing any businesses myself after 1981, although I may have been the director of some companies. I, however, disassociated myself from all businesses in 1998,” he said, adding: “As far as the meaning of disassociation from business is concerned, it is true that it is more in terms of disassociation from any management function, rather than in terms of holding financial interests in a company. After all, how can you make a living if you disassociate yourself from the financial interest…”

London apartments

Talking about the London properties, he said he had gone there in 1989 and in the 1990s and stayed in the Avenfield apartments. “I knew Hussain and then Hassan, who were studying in London, were living in those apartments. All the expenses related to their stay were met by the money my father used to send them. I know broadly that we were paying the ground rent, service charges and utilities but do not know whether rent was being paid or not. Hussain was dealing with these issues and he knows the most. I knew it was an arrangement made by Mr Al Thani and my father. I do not, however, know about how the bearer certificates were transferred.”

Mr Sharif informed the JIT that he did not refer to the investment between the Qatari family and his father in his speeches but clearly said that he would tell the details when the time came.

About a Guardian report that quoted his wife as saying that the Avenfield apartments were purchased for Hassan and Hussain in 2000 while they were studying in London, “my response is that sometimes these things are said because of lack of knowledge”, he said.

Regarding a huge sum of money gifted to him by his son Hussain, he said in the statement: “I do not find any issue with the fact that my son Hussain sends me money as gifts which I either spend myself or gift it to my daughter Maryam. It is foreign exchange coming into Pakistan and the money was sent through the official banking channels.”

Following are the questions asked by the JIT and the prime minister’s answers.

Q: In your speeches, you had mentioned that all record relating to Azizia and Gulf Steel was available but later your counsel stated in the Supreme Court that no such record was available. Can you explain this contradiction?

A: I am not sure, maybe I had given the record to the speaker, but I am not sure about this.

Q: You have stated that you stand by whatever respondents 6, 7 and 8 have submitted before the Supreme Court of Pakistan during the proceedings of the case about Gulf Steel and Azizia etc. Did you personally see what they have submitted before the Supreme Court of Pakistan or your knowledge is based on family discussions?

A: I had not seen the submissions, my knowledge is based on the family discussions but I endorse whatever has been submitted by them.

Q: Do you have any other documents that you want to produce in addition to the ones you have brought today?

A: There are no further documents to be produced. We have already provided all the documents we had.

Q: In 1999, the Queens Bench Division had put a caution on the Avenfield properties which was removed on the basis of a settlement. What is your knowledge about the terms of the settlement?

A: I have heard about it but I do not know about the terms of the settlement.

Q: You had referred to the settlement of family assets in 2005. Was the matter of investment of proceeds of Gulf Steel discussed especially with regards to the Avenfield properties?

A: Yes, perhaps it was discussed and since they had remained in the possession of Hassan and Hussain. I think Hassan is the owner but I’m not sure.

Q: Hussain claims to own the apartments now but practically Hassan has lived in one of the apartments for decades now. Don’t you find this a bit odd?

A: It is not unusual for brothers.

Q: Do you know about the trust deed signed between Mr Hussain Nawaz Sharif and Ms Maryam Nawaz Sharif with reference to the companies of Mr Hussain?

A: I have no knowledge of the trust deed signed by Mr Hussain Nawaz Sharif on behalf of Maryam (Nawaz) Safdar.

Q: Do you know Saeed Ahmed of National Bank of Pakistan and did you have any business with him?

A: I know Saeed Ahmed since a very long time but I do not have any business links with him.

Q: Do you know the Qazi family?

A: I do not know them. I meet a lot of people and do not remember them all.

Q: Do you know Sheikh Saeed?

A: Yes, I know him since a long time, but I do not have any business relationship with him.

Q: A settlement with NAB was carried out on your behalf in 2001-2 for the case of Hudabiya papers mills and payment were made through loans taken from Chaudhry and Ramzan mills. Please apprise us with the details of this settlement.

A: I do not know if there was a loan. I do not have any knowledge of this matter.

Q: Did you send any money abroad to any of your family members?

A: No I did not.

Q: Was a portion of the money received from Hill Metals used for political funding?

A: No, but if I did, is it a crime?

Q: Would it not come under foreign funding?

No reply was made.

Reference

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2017

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Tiger Hill Point 5353 (Highest Peak in Kargil Region) Still in Control of Pakistan-Kargil Victory

Indian Express

Near Tiger Hill, Point 5353 still Pak-occupied

Standing tall and dominating the famous Tiger Hill on the Line of Control (LoC) is a grim reminder of the Kargil war. Point 5353, the highest peak in the region which has a clear view of the National Highway 1 D, remains occupied by Pakistan even a decade after the battle.

While the point is clearly on the Indian side of the LoC, it remains in Pakistani control which has fortified it with reinforced bunkers and has even built a special road nearby to carry up supplies for soldiers.

The Indian Army, which made several unsuccessful attempts to occupy the post after the Kargil war, has since given up the post as “untenable” given the geography of the region that makes it fairly easy for Pakistani troops to climb.

What makes Point 5353 so valuable for the two armies is that it has a clear view of the national highway that connects the Kashmir valley with Kargil. The main reason the Army retaliated hard to the Pakistani intrusion in 1999 was that disruption of traffic on the road would cut off supplies to Ladakh and the Siachen glacier.

While officers say that Point 5353 is surrounded by three Indian posts, including Point 5240 and any action from there would be neutralised, the fact remains that artillery observers from the post can easily direct fire on a 25 km stretch of the national highway.

Besides, the most dominating feature in the region has a clear view of the Tiger Hill and surrounding areas. Sources say Pakistan has constructed concrete bunkers at the location and have a special supply base on their side of the LoC that has substantial reinforcements.

Several attempts to dislodge Pakistani troops from the posts with the help of artillery fire remained unsuccessful till action became impossible after the 2003 ceasefire. The Army has since given up the option of retaking the post in the larger interest of peace in the area.

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