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Pakistan Table of Contents


Defense Strategy

Pakistan remains, despite its substantial military force, a nation with a gaping security deficit. India disposes of forces sometimes almost three times as large as Pakistan's, and this disparity is only partially offset by India's need to defend its border with China. Senior Pakistani officers are well aware of the fact that their forces are not equal to India's, and few would willingly provoke a test of strength. Further, although Pakistan had built up its fuel and ammunition reserves to fortyfive days' supplies by 1992, past experience has taught the nation not to count on replenishment. War avoidance has been the primary goal of Pakistani security policy, especially since the Zia years. At the same time, the military accepts the fact that war is possible and is determined to acquit itself well.

Pakistan, like virtually every other nation, proclaims that its forces and strategy are defensive. Faced with a much superior enemy, uncertain sources of supply, and little strategic depth, Pakistan cannot expect to absorb an initial attack and to successfully fight a protracted defensive war. Thus, in terms of conventional strategy, Pakistan has emphasized a doctrine of "offensive defense," which provides for quick preemptive strikes once a war begins in order to disrupt an enemy advance and inflict high costs. In addition, such actions are designed to gain salients in enemy territory, which can be used as trade-offs in peace negotiations. Navy and air force roles would be mainly defensive. The large-scale exercise Zarb-e-Momin (Sword of the Faithful), which took place in 1989, was held far enough away from the border not to frighten India, and, indeed, foreign observers were invited. Its scenario and the publicity that attended it were, however, meant to illustrate the offensivedefense doctrine and to make sure that India understood it.

Data as of April 1994