Pakistan’s Dilemma About Strategic Depth

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Air Commodore (Retd) Khalid Iqbal, TI (M)*


(Pakistan’s geopolitical fixations and strategic environment are quite interesting. These pose serious quandaries in the realm of national security. Fondness of extra-regional powers to invade our neighborhood, persistence animosity radiating from India, barring sporadic spikes of thaw, and an unstable relationship with America keep Pakistan busy in regional firefighting. The gap in public opinion and government policy in the context of resolving these security related predicaments is quite wide. In addition, within the official circles, civilian and military components of national leadership have varied opinions. Strategic depth is a comprehensive state of existence that creates a strategic environment which eliminates existential threats to a state. It includes but is by no means limited to military threat. The means to achieve strategic depth are numerous and include the military dimension only as one out of many tools. If other components are effectively in place, the need for a military dimension of strategic depth may become irrelevant. On the other hand; strategic depth acquired by military coercion alone is the most fragile way and is seldom sustainable. In the context of Pakistan’s national security, the military dimension of strategic depth has been blown out of proportion giving air to some of the notions and connotations which are quite outdated and hence obsolete. Speaking from a military perspective, the existential threat to Pakistan emanates from India; and out of other bordering states, Afghanistan is the only country whose governments have had the tendency and the history of lending their shoulder to regional and extra-regional actors to pressurize Pakistan. Likewise, India has a history of performing rental services for extra-regional forces occupying Afghanistan to the detriment of Pakistan Air Force; he is an analyst of international security and current affairs.

Pakistan. Thecurrent cooperation between Afghanistan and India in military-to military relations, yet once again, reignites certain anxieties in the context of a two front pincer dilemma that has been coming back in circles to haunt the defence establishment of Pakistan.

There is a need to separate reality form myth. This paper aims at taking a fresh look at the necessity and methodology of achieving sustainable strategic depth for Pakistan. – Author)


Prevailing strategic environment has necessitated a reappraisal of the concept of “Strategic Depth.”There was a time not long ago when Germany, too, was seeking strategic depth — in Eastern Europe, although Adolf Hitler did not use that term. He called it ‘Lebensraum im Osten’ (Living space in the East) and it was probably one of the most violent and unsuccessful military and political concepts in the world. When Hitler attacked Stalin in 1940 as a consequence, he overlooked that Russia had much more strategic depth due to its geography than anybody else, despite its economic weakness and many other shortcomings. At the same time, the German army was involved in fights at the western front as well. The result is known: a total defeat and the end of the German empire in 1945.1

An anti-thesis has recently been presented by Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Devatoglu, in his illustrated book “Strategic Depth: Turkey’s International Position.” It offers an outline of viable strategy model for Pakistan as well. Its cardinal principles are: settle all internal issues, resolve all bilateral disputes to achieve “zero problems” with neighbours, “de-securitization” offoreign policy and transforming to an economy oriented state, and to improve international outreach by playing the role of mediator in international conflicts2.

Being a domain of social science, wide ranging standpoints could be anchored between the positions taken by Adolf Hitler and Ahmet Devatoglu on the concept of strategic depth.Each country has to adopt a model suiting its own conditions. This paper endeavors to look into the possibilities of evolving an appropriate model of strategic depth for

The military concept of strategic depth refers to the distance between actual or potential frontlines and key centers of population, logistics, industrial and military production centres. Having such depth allows a country to withstand initial offensive and enables it to regroup to mount a counter-offensive. Pakistan’s geographic narrowness and the presence of key heartlands and communications networks near its borders with its principal enemy, India, have haunted its military planners, since independence. It was identified as a grave concern by General Arthur F Smith, the chief of general staff in India, as early as 1946 when an independent Pakistan existed only on the Imperial drawing board. The possibility of a friendly – or better yet, a pliant – Afghanistan providing this much desired depth in relation to India was viewed as a viable option in the post Soviet era Afghanistan.The concept was discarded in 1998; and isotherwise impracticablesince October 2001. Pakistan’s policy of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan has been up for another discussion since 9/11, when it was forced to abandon the Taliban regime it had backed to try to contain Indian influence there and give itself the space that it felt was so lacking on its eastern border. The ongoing process of strategic divergence between Pakistan and America in the context of the future of Afghanistan and the American delusion that it could prop- up India as a pliant regional power has prompted Pakistan’s revisit to the concept of strategic depth, albeit in a new context and with changed connotations. Nevertheless, it is difficult to gauge its prospects within the fast changing strategic environment of Asia. A flexible approach with adequate fall back option appears to be the best bet.


In the wake of developments in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s erstwhile concept of strategic depth is once again under focus. Overall contour of strategic depth is a function of the way a nation approaches its national security dilemmas. Traditionally, Pakistan has beenviewing itsnational security in a narrow perspective, confining it to“the integrity of the national territory and its institutions”. However, contemporary practice is its more wholesome rendition focusing at: “Absence of threat to acquired values”.3

In politico-diplomatic terms, strategic depth is the ability of a state to reduce threats by a combination of strategies which include improving relations with neighbours and bring the possibility of an armed conflict to zero.This creates additional space for economic development and soft power projection. Globalization has impacted the concept of sovereignty by bringing down the walls of inviolable borders. Mobility and communications enable all people and nations to interact with each other freely and perpetually. Isolationism is no longer an option. Every nation has to learn to live within the comity of nations, with a host of factors impacting them collectively and individually. Peace at home and peace abroad are a necessity, indeed both are mutually harmonizing. These days sovereignty is circumscribed by the ratio of bilateral dependencies and interdependencies; and it functions within the constraints of a wholesome conglomerate of multilateral regimes4.

Thesnowballing cost of war being fought astride the Pak-Afghan border and the ensuing upward spiraling pressure on Pakistanto do American bidding has renewed public interest in the concept of ‘strategic depth’ in the context of the Pak-Afghan relations. A well entrenched school of thought now envisages a ‘hands off policy’ for Pakistan; giving a wide berth to Afghanistan’s viciously developing situation with a purpose to cut losses and concentrate on bringing the turmoil within Pakistan under control.5 The alternative school of thought likes to have adequate leverage to avoid a two front situation.

Military component of strategic depth refers to the distance between actual or potential frontlines and key centers of population, logistics, industrial and military production centres; or say the heartland of the state. Defensive strategic depth requires vast space in the interior to retreat to extend the lines of communication of the enemy.Itcorresponds to a state’s ability to deal with an offensive through multi-layered defence, absorb the initial thrust, stretch the enemy forces and inflict attrition on it through counter-strokes, for example,the retreat of the Russian army against Napoleon. The World War II era notion of strategic depth as demonstrated in the retreat during battle of El-Alamin in Africa is not applicable in the battlefield environment employing extended reach ground attack aircraft6. During ’Operation Desert Storm’ Iraqi republican Guards were decimated during a retreat. The Red army was almost annihilated by the German Wehrmacht, despite their strategic depth7. It was the mindboggling material and human resource of Soviets that they survived the disaster of Operation Barbarossa and later won the war8. Hence, availability of extended interior lines do not necessarily assure victory, nevertheless non-availability of such lines does pose strategy related dilemmas and restrict strategic options.

This time-distance calculus also takes into account the reach of enemy’s unmanned munitions and the space required by the defensive structures to counter such weapons. A state facing ICBMs would require thousands of miles of early warning to counter an ultra-fast multi-warhead missile. This necessitates placing of sensors in other countries. Even Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (TBMD) systems need collective multi-state integrated approach. These days, America is vying for placing its missile defence related structures in Eastern European countries. America’s overseas stationing of militaryin nearly 100 countries, including deployment of tactical nuclear missiles inWestern Europe and elsewhere, is based on the necessity of strategic depth.One of the reasons for Israel not withdrawing from the West Bank is its notion of strategic depth. Hence, it would be fair to assume that from a militarily perspective, each country needs strategic depth.

Pakistan needs strategic defence to avoid a two front war.It is not confined to Afghanistan; it is applicable in case of China and Iran as well. However, because of exceptionally good relations, it is assumed that China and Iran would never pose a two front dilemma.

Pakistan’s geographic narrowness and the presence of key heartlands and communication networks near its borders with its principal enemy, India, have haunted its military planners, since independence. It was identified as a grave concern by General Arthur F Smith, the chief of general staff in India, as early as 1946.

The possibility of a friendly Afghanistan providing this much desired depth in relation to India was viewed as a viable option in the post Soviet era Afghanistan.Unfortunately, the concept attracted undue negative projection. The concept incorporates more of politico-diplomatic features than hard core military aspects.It is certainly not based on any concept of elastic defence whereby attacking Indians will be sucked in as deep as ,say, Peshawar, while defenders retreat to, say, Kandahar and then launch a counter offensive. Pakistani leadership is looking forward to create cordiality with Kabul so that India loses the option to use Afghan soil against Pakistan. The recent spree of trans-border attacks on Pakistan by miscreants using Afghan soil as a launching pad reinforces the necessity of strategic depth.

Nuclearization of South Asia has added new dimensions to the concept. Pakistan’s military capability precludes any long thrust by India threatening strategic targets. All Nuclear states have a tendency to indulge in proxy wars through non-state actors.It falls in the category of “we can do it but not you.” Battle field nuclear weapons reduce the need for strategic depthat the risk of expanded nuclear war.

Presumably, the strategic depth concept has been replaced by ‘limited Oblivion’; this is in response to India’s ‘Cold Start Doctrine.’The limited oblivion theory is pretty simple; in response to any major thrust into the soft underbelly of Pakistan’s Rajasthan/ South Punjab sector, Pakistani troops will respond just inside Pakistani territory with tactical mini Nukes, deflating within minutes any Indian thrust, since the Nukes will be aimed at their targets within the Pakistani side of the border, and in response to an Indian offensive.Hence, India will not have the right to retaliate. Though, this theory has its own low-side, yet it is practicable.

Hence in raw military form, the traditional concept of strategic depth is obsolete, at least in the India-Pakistan setting. Nevertheless, it is becoming increasingly more relevant in politico-diplomatic context. The ongoing process of strategic divergence between Pakistan and America in the context of the future of Afghanistan and the American delusion that it could prop-up India as a pliant regional bully has prompted Pakistan’s revisit to the concept of strategic depth, albeit in a new context and with changed connotations.Nevertheless, it is difficult to forecast its likely contour. Every state needs strategic depth and given Pakistan’s geographical location, itneeds such depthmore than some other states.

It is interesting to take a look at the Turkish doctrine put forward by its foreign minister Ahmet Devatoglu, in his illustrated book “Strategic Depth: Turkey’s International Position” offers a viable strategy model for Pakistan as well.It suggests: First, settle all internal issues; second, resolve all bilateral disputes to achieve “zero problems” with neighbours; third, “de-securitization” offoreign policy and transforming to an economy oriented state; fourth, to improve international outreach by playing the role of mediator in international conflicts9.

Post-America friendly Afghanistan is a matter of vital interest for Pakistan. This can only be achieved through constructive engagement and persuasion; coercion is certainly not an option. It is in this context that Pakistan has decided to revisit its policy of strategic depth, but now with different connotations. Pakistan has extended its outreach to all regional countries, like Russia, Iran, Turkey, Central Asian Republics, China and even India. The objective is to look for a peaceful Asia in general and a calm and prosperous South Asia. Projects like the Iran- Pakistan-India gas pipeline (IPI), Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan- India gas pipeline (TAPI), and Central Asia South Asia 2000 MW electricity transmission line (CASA 2000) etc indicate that Pakistan is looking for strategic depth well beyond the conventional military sense10.


Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan started on an unpleasant note. Afghanistan was the only country that caste negative vote on the eve of Pakistan’s admission to the United Nations as a member state11. Though the negative vote was withdrawn soon after, the bad state persisted for times to come. There is a disagreement about the legality of the border between the two countries. Afghanistan’s non-acceptance of the Durand line is not supported by historic perspective. Afghanistan had been accepting the line as the international border prior to the independence of Pakistan. However it chose to make a volte face on this issue in 1947.

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been marred by turbulence and suspicion. In recent years this has taken the form of leveling accusations at each other of state-sponsored terrorism12.The core issues between the two are of the ‘Durand Line’ and the yester years’ idea of ‘Pushtunistan’. Over the years, the Pushtunistan issue has fizzled out. Dispute over the Durand line has never turned into a military confrontation because the easement rights enunciated in the treaty had guaranteed the free movement of people of the tribes which this line divides arbitrarily

The history of the Durand Line dates back to the 1879 Treaty of Gandumak signed between Great Britain and Afghanistan during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. However, it wasn’t until 1893 after a virtual stalemate that the Afghans came, under duress, to agree to the demarcation of a 2,640 km border between Afghanistan and what was then British India; until the partition of India all monarchs of Afghanistan recognized the Durand Line as the legitimate border between Afghanistan and British India. The issue became more sensitive after the partition of British India in 1947. Afghanistan called for the right of self-determination for Pushtuns – this came to be known in Kabul as the ‘Pushtunistan’ policy. This deteriorated the relations between the two neighbours. Due to ethnic, political, nationalistic, sectarian and geopolitical dimensions, the Pushtun problem is multifaceted.In the past, Afghanistan has articulated its claim over the Pakistani Pushtun population;and devised methods to useit as a ‘nuisance capability’ against Pakistan. Afghanistan has been sporadically claiming parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KPP). Kabul rejects the Durand Line, arguing that the July 1947 referendum held by the British never satisfied the requirement for self-determination and furthermore, since Pakistan was a ‘new state’, pre-existing treaty rights including borders did not apply.Pakistan, for its part, views the Durand Line as a legitimate international border.13

Soviet Occupation Era (1979-1988)

ErstwhileUSSR invaded Afghanistan in the wake of a power vacuum that emerged due to fall of the Shah of Iran. In the American scheme of things, the Iranian monarch Reza Shah was the anchorperson entrusted with the power and authority to look after American interests in the region. The rapid fall of the Shah came as a surprise to the world in general and to the Americans in particular. Soviets had long been yearning for access to warm waters of the Arabian Sea. They saw the American strategic paralysis as an opportunity to invade Afghanistan. As a result of this invasion, about three million Afghan refugees came to Pakistan. Americans decided to play a counter move to bleed the Soviets in Afghanistan through a proxy war. Pakistan and America joined hands to finance equip and train the select refugees to wage a war of insurgency against the Soviets. Americans did so to avenge there earlier defeats in Asia, while Pakistan became a party to hold the Soviet rampage towards the Arabian Sea at its outer parameter. At that time the Soviets were a formidable super power, and fighting them on Afghan soil rather than Pakistani land was an attractive preposition. The strategy worked. USSR lost the will to fight and agreed to exit under humiliating terms of the Geneva Accord of 1988. America also decided to call it a day and left the region in a limbo.

The onus of stabilizing war torn Afghanistan fell on Pakistan. After the Russian departure, it took two years to install a Mujahedeen government. The government was to comprise of seven factions of Afghan resistance groups. These groups could never reconcile over the spoils. Most of the resistance leaders turned as warlords and Afghanistan became an ungoverned country. This hapless situation was to stimulate the rise of the Taliban movement.

Taliban Regime

The Taliban movement was prompted by the degeneration of the Mujahedeen regime. It was launched by the younger generation of the effectees of Soviet occupation. Most of them were orphans as their male parents had embraced martyrdom while fighting the Soviets. A majority of these young warriors had been brought-up in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan. Theseenthusiasticyoungsters could not see their country being sucked into a black hole of non-governance and corruption. The Taliban movement started from southern Afghanistan. It expanded like wild fire. Groups of youngsters would flock the centres of authority, district and provincial offices while holding Quran in their hands and asking the incumbent to vacate. Afghans follow a tradition that when an orphan approaches them with a request while holding the Quran in their hand, they are bound to oblige. So districts and provinces started falling like a house of cards. Similar episodes occurred when the Taliban reached Kabul. The Taliban proclaimed the establishment of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and Mullah Umar became the Emir. An Islamic penal code was proclaimed. However, due to lack of in-depth knowledge about Islamic jurisprudence and shortfall in administrative training, the implementation phase got out of control. Hence, a crude way of day to day living was implemented in the name of Islamic Sharia, which did not radiate a refreshing image of Islam. The Taliban regime remained mired in the crises of domestic and international legitimacy. Internationally only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recognized it. Domestically, it faced fierce resistance by the Northern Alliance headed by Abdu-ur-Rashid Dostum. The Alliance was supported by Iran, India and Uzbekistan. Moreover, ethnic and sectarian groups supported by neighbouring countries became a source of perpetual nuisance. After

9/11, the Taliban regime failed to follow a pragmatic approach and avoid a military occupation of their country. America invaded Afghanistan in October, 2001 and occupied it by the end of that year14.

Post 9/11 Compulsions

After the occupation of Afghanistan by the UN mandated American lead coalition, Hamid Karzai was installed as President of Afghanistan under an arrangement worked out at the‘Bonn Conference’ also known as the ‘Petersberg conference’. Karzai was an ex-employee of one of the Bush-Cheney enterprises and had been on the pay role of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). One of his major assignments was to keep extending the stationing of foreign troops in his country. On expiry of the first term as President he was reelected through widely discredited elections.

President Karzai is an erratic leader, his rhetoric keeps oscillating between ultra-right nationalist to ‘his master’s voice’. He also keeps jockeying between India and Pakistan for strategic benefits. His latest trophy is an elusive strategic agreement with India. His credibility at home and abroad is equally poor. His messages in recent days have conveyed a deep suspicion of Pakistan’s intentions; particularly disquieting statement that Afghanistan needs to negotiate not with the Taliban but with Pakistan coincided with the anti-Pakistan diatribe of his Washington based overlords15.

After spending tremendous effort in terms of American munitions and Asian blood, America’s Afghanistan is militarily volatile, politically ungovernable and communally uncontrollable. It has the capacity of destabilizing its all six neighbours, and indeed entire Asia. While pondering whether this status has occurred by default or design, one tends to conclude in the favour of a mix. Historic perspective indicates that Afghanistan has never allowed a foreign power to consolidate its occupation.

When America attacked Afghanistan, President Musharraf thought it would all end in 3-4 weeks; however, academics had professed that the venture could last for about a decade. A famous quote by Alexander the Great that Afghanistan “is easy to march into but hard to march out of,” has held out ever since. Soon America would join the club of earlier failed adventurers; indeed each one of them was a titanic of their era16.

People to People and Government to Government dynamics

Traditionally there has been a gap between public level and government level relations between the two countries. The Afghan people have generally been friendly towards Pakistan whereas successive Afghan governments have been luke- warm towards Pakistan. Barring the Taliban era, the political dispensations representing Kabul have been more eager to cozy up with India. Moreover, some Afghan rulers had a penchant for seeking undue closeness with distant neighbours and extra regional powers. This fascinated such ‘friends’ to invade the country. At least the Soviet occupation could be attributed to this phenomenon. The Durand Line divides some of the Pushtun tribes between Pakistan and Afghanistan arbitrarily, however, the easement rights has created interdependencies amongst the people of the divided tribes. These interdependencies provide a cushion against any military action by either of the two countries against the other. So this restraining phenomenon provides the first layer of strategic defence to both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

During 2011, the cross border attacks in Chitral, Bajaur and Dir originated from the Afghan provinces of Badakhshan and Kunar, under the operational facilitation of the occupation forces andAfghan security outfits.These attacks resulted in a high number of casualties to Pakistani troops manning widely separated border outposts in small numbers. This worrisome scenario of an increasingly hostile Afghanistan has been further exacerbated by the pernicious fallout of the conclusion of the Indo-Afghan Strategic Accord signed during President Hamid Karzai’s recent visit to New Delhi. This accord, builds up upon the soft power acquired by India through an investment of over $2 billion in various developmental projects;whereby, now India seeks an active security-cum-military role for itself in a civil war ravaged Afghanistan. Its interest to seek a formalized security presence in Afghanistan is for no altruistic motives, but reflects a naked desire to rule the roost to the discomfiture of Pakistan, whose western flank – in addition to its eastern one –could now stand exposed to the threat of Indian aggression. Unless Pakistan plays its cards deftly, it is confronted with the specter of “strategic pincer”; a worst case scenario for Pakistan17.

With nuclearization of the subcontinent, the Indo-Pak military focus has shifted from a conventional face-off – primarily over Kashmir – to the windswept and dusty plains of southern and eastern Afghanistan, which has emerged as the new theatre for a proxy war between the two countries. Remaining aloof from the developments in Afghanistan, with India clawing in to find a permanent military and security niche, remains an unaffordable luxury for Pakistan. This aspect was well articulated by General Stanley McChrystal, the previous top NATO commander in Afghanistan, in his ‘Commander ISAF’s Initial Assessment’ made during August 2009. “Indian political and economic influence is increasing in

Afghanistan, including significant development efforts and financial investment. In addition, the current Afghan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-Indian…….[An] increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan and India.” he asserted18.

In his landmark interview to a Pakistani private TV channel on 22

October, 2011, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that his country will stand by “brother Pakistan” if it was attacked either by the US or India.“God forbid, if any time war erupts between Pakistan and the United States, we will stand by Pakistan, If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan need Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will be there with you,” Karzai said.“We are your brother as Pakistan has given us shelter (during the 1979-89 occupation of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union), as Pakistan considered us brothers and gave us homes and we spent time in Pakistan with respect as refugees,” he said.Asked what Afghanistan would do if India attacked Pakistan, Karzai said: “Anybody who attacks Pakistan, Afghanistan will stand by Pakistan. Afghanistan will be a brother of Pakistan. Afghanistan will never betray a brother.”19 Karzai insisted that Afghanistan never leveled accusations against Pakistan. He said Afghanistan never halted the peace process. He said 2011 was the worst year for both Pakistan and Afghanistan as the people of both the countries faced the worst kind of violence at the hands of home-grown terrorists. He said no place is safe from the terrorists. “These terrorists were brought up in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We can’t blame any foreign hand. This is our own failure. We need to see why all this is happening and search for a solution.”Karzai dispelled the impression that Afghanistan and India signed a strategic partnership agreement in view of the worsening relations of his country with Pakistan following last month’s assassination of Afghan peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani.“Now, our relations with India, our signing of the strategic partnership with India, it did not happen at the spur of the moment. This is something that we have been working on for years now,” the Afghan president said.Karzai said the tensions between the US and Pakistan had not had an impact on Kabul’s attitude towards Islamabad. “You know that we have had this engagement with Pakistan for a long time and if it comes to a brother-to-brother relationship, you’ll find that Afghanistan will be there with you in times of difficulty,” he said.Karzai further said that his country’s policies towards Pakistan would not be dictated by any country. “Afghanistan has its own policy, its own stand, its own clear view of things and from that point of view, it’s dealing with our brothers in Pakistan…Afghanistan is a brother…(despite) all that the Pakistani establishment has done to Afghanistan, Afghanistan is still a brother,” he added20.

However, Karzai said there was “pain” in Afghanistan over Pakistan’s dealing with his country. “Please, brother, stop using all methods that hurt us and are now hurting you. Let’s engage from a different platform, a platform in which the two brothers only progress towards a better future in peace and harmony. And Afghanistan will be with you.” Karzai also said that the killer of Prof Rabbani came from Quetta. He said Pakistan should investigate the matter. He said Pakistan will have to sever its links with the terrorist elements if it wants durable relations between the two countries. He said using violence as a tool is no longer in the interest of Pakistan as it is also suffering at the hands of terrorists21.

Soon after the interview was telecast, Karzai’s national security team jumped-in to water-down the spirit of his comments. The deputy national security adviser said, “I think the president’s remarks have been blown up without looking at the real context of the message he was trying to convey…”It is a 50 minute-long interview. Of course one or two sentences can’t speak for a 50 minute-long interview on a specific subject.” Another Afghan official opined, “It was totally careless, unnecessary and, yes, irresponsible…He hasn’t pleased anyone except, maybe, a few Pakistani generals.”22

The trilateral summit of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey concluded in Istanbul on 01 November, 2011. It ended on a positive note, with the three countries signing agreements and memoranda of understanding for cooperation in different areas and expressing willingness to join hands to build a combined partnership to ensure peace and security in the region.The conference, hosted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul was attended by President Asif Ali Zardari and President Hamid Karzai along with the military chiefs and foreign and interior ministers.Interior Ministers of the three countries signed aMemorandum of Understanding (MOU) on training cooperation while army chiefs signed protocol for conduct of mutual exercises and training courses.The leaders discussed the possibility of forming a commission at foreign ministers’ level to identify problems confronting the region, preparing a programme for their resolution and ensuring the follow-up23.

President Zardari said Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey had agreed to re-energize their efforts in support of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.He said: “Eventually the world community has realized that there has to be a regional solution of the issue and the region has to take the responsibility.”He said: “Distant friends, however, well-intentioned they might be, will not know our culture and traditions”, adding “Turkey is better placed to guide us.”He said that Pakistan attached great importance to the process of Afghanistan-Pakistan-Turkey trilateral summit.He praised President Gul’s valuable contribution and constructive role in the promotion of peace and stability in Afghanistan. He said that three presidents had had very open and productive discussions.The President said: “Along with Afghanistan, Pakistan has also suffered immensely on account of terrorism. We, therefore, remain firm in our resolve to eliminate this menace…We have also agreed to strengthen regional economic cooperation through this important trilateral process.”24

President Abdullah Gul said, “One of the most important conclusions of this summit is the decision made by Pakistan and Afghanistan to establish a cooperation mechanism to illuminate the assassination of ex-Afghan President Rabbani… This cooperation will help improve mutual trust between the two countries. President Karzai said, “We were hurt badly by the assassination of Rabbani,I hope this cooperation will produce results.”President Karzai again ruled out peace talks with the Taliban until he knew how to contact the insurgent groups, and until then Afghanistan would talk only to Pakistan.“We cannot keep talking to suicide bombers, therefore, we have stopped talking about talking to the Taliban until we have an address for the Taliban … until that day we have said we will be talking to our brothers in Pakistan to find a solution to the problem… We have been hurt badly, our desire for peace has been either misunderstood or misused and we have learnt a lesson from the manner in which we pursued the peace process.”25

This depicts the underlying sentiment amongst the policy making circles of Kabul. Hence, Pakistan’s urge for seeking strategic depth is not entirely misplaced.


India and Pakistan have traditionally followed opposing strategic approaches in Afghanistan, indeed a zero sum approach. India has been doling out money to most of the Afghan rulers to keep the issue of ‘Pushtunistan’ alive. During Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, India supported the invaders’ installed puppet regimes. In sync with broader Soviet design it repeatedly deployed its forces on Pakistani borders to pressurize Pakistan, significant of these was massing of troops under the garb of Exercise Brass Tacs in 1986-7, which included plans for invading major Pakistani cities like Karachi. Those were tense years, Pakistan was subjected to massive air violations by Soviet and Afghan air forces, Shallow incursions would essentially include bombardment of Pakistan’s border town in the garb of hot pursuit. During these difficult times India’s Brass Tacks misadventure was rathernightmarish; indeed Pakistan was only a bullet away from a two front pincer scenario. These moments made Pakistani strategists think about strategic depth in a purely military context26.

India has been going overboard to dominate Afghanistan. It is amongst the largest foreign donors in Afghanistan having dumped nearly US $2 billion over the last 10 years. In the garb of these projects, India has clandestinely positioned its trained soldiers on Afghan soil. Firms engaged in development and social sector works employ ex- Indian servicemen for these assignments. Presence of ex-combatants in a country where acquisition of weapons is not a problem, alongside a shady agreement on the usage of an air base in Tajikistan reveals Indian ambitions to succeed America as neo-colonizer of Afghanistan. “The visit by Hillary Clinton to Islamabad turned out to be yet another defining moment in the endgame in Afghanistan… Clearly, Clinton’s was on a do-or-die mission… the US has publicly acknowledged the centrality of Pakistan’s role in the Afghan endgame…(it) accepted the consistent Pakistani demand that the Haqqanis should be engaged in talks and that excluding them would make the entire process fragile…Clinton conceded repeatedly Islamabad’s “legitimate” concerns regarding the Taliban operating out of safe havens on Afghan soil… The US and Pakistan have passed the ‘challenging phase in the last few months’, The heavy pressure tactic to the point of brandishing the sword failed to produce the desired result and is unlikely to work. In sum, Washington sees the futility of visualizing Pakistan as a hostile power and of trying to impose an Afghan settlement that is unacceptable to the Pakistani military. The mantra is to “incentivize” Pakistan by inviting it to play a major role in Afghanistan, but on conditions, which also ensures that the US’s strategic interests remain protected. It essentially devolves on conceding Pakistani primacy in Afghanistan and putting the Pakistani leadership in charge of negotiating with their counterparts in Kabul.27

For the last two years or so, Indian involvement in Pakistan in the context of the Afghan conflict has become more pronounced. Indian strategy has graduated froma low profile physical presence camouflaged by a state of denial to firmly sticking its neck out to claim an active role as a matter of right. Basing its claim on US$ 2 billion investment, India is now demanding an active role inclusive of a military dimension.

Indian involvement in Baluchistan is quite established and proof was handed over by Pakistani Prime minster to his Indian counterpart on the sidelines duringthe Sharm-ul SheikhNon-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit.The Indian intelligence agency, RAW,is working in concert with its American, Afghan and British counterparts to support subversive activities in FATA to enforce a squeeze on Pakistan and keep the pot boiling. India aims at cultivating requisite contacts to utilize these inroads to destabilize Pakistan’s western border on a required basis; hence retaining the leverage of posing a two front pincer.

Likewise, the unrestrained liberty of action enjoyed by the Tehreek- eTaliban Pakistan (TTP) who are living in safe sanctuaries all along the FATA belt on the Pak-Afghan border has allowed them to consolidatetheir power.The TTP’s considerable clout in Afghanistan comes from the money, weapons and state-of-the-art communication equipment provided by a cluster of intelligence agencies, who are conjointly pursuing an agenda to destabilize the FATA region all along the Pak-Afghan border. This has changed the time honoured tradition of leaving FATA to the care of small contingents of the paramilitary forces, thus enabling the Pak Army to keepits major focus of attention on the eastern borders with India. With the flaring up of hostility on the western flank and presence of the Indian juggernaut in the east, the likelihood of ‘two front’ war scenario is revisiting Pakistan with an alarming rapidity.

The political dispensation headed by Karzai in Kabul is barely a concealed front, which is dominated by the Northern Alliance with avowed hostility for Pakistan. The Northern Alliance, which spearheaded the US assault on Taliban in October 2001, has Washington’s anointment to hold the reins of power. This puts India in the driving seat of the political agenda, since all the major players in the Northern Alliance representing the Tajiks, Uzbeks and the Hazara minorities are well known Indian protégées, who have been working to drive out the Pushtun majority away from the levers of power, despite their being the custodians of the traditional power centre at Kabul, though with loose control over peripheral areas. This unnatural ascendance of minorities in Kabul bearing allegiance to India is a prospect loaded for anintra- Afghan civil war, having ominous consequences for Pakistan.28.

In a bold move to assert itself in Afghanistan, India is finalizing a plan to construct a 900-km railway line that will connect Chabahar port in Iran, also being expanded with Indian help, to the mineral-rich Hajigak region of Afghanistan. Chabahar is just 72 km west of Pakistan’s Gwadar port. When operational, this railway line will bring abouttantalizing geo- political and economicopportunities for India, while radiating a potential for Pakistan’s unease with Afghanistan and Iran. It will increase Indian leverage in Afghanistan and its strategic presence in the region. The rail,alongsidethe circular road (also being built by India),would give Afghanistan alternative access to the sea, thus, reducing its dependence on Pakistan.These links would open opportunities for Indian companies to explore Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, believed to be worth $1-3 trillion.29

The Environment in Afghanistan is precarious from a Pakistani perspective. Since Obama’s assumption of presidency, an India-America nexus has evolved gradually and expanded rapidly in the context of end-game in Afghanistan. Despite denials by both these countries, the existence and manifestations of this nexus are well known to the public, intelligentsia and the policy makers of Pakistan. This has compelled Pakistan to take a defiant role on some of the issues where common grounds could be explored. Public opinion and political wisdom quickly merged and a policy of national consensus emerged. American desires were known to the political and military leadership. However, it became a public knowledge with the Raymond Davis shooting spree and got engraved in stone after the Abbottabad attack on 02 May 2011. Anti- American sentiment is so high that even the civilian government that carries the tag of having been installed by America and the military leadership having the public image of an institution with American inclination, find it hard to ignore public sentiment.

To stabilize the situation, Washington needs to take positive steps to effectively curb the perception that it is leaning towards the Indian- Afghan alliance hostile to Pakistan. It is necessary that it treats the sovereignty of Pakistan and the inviolability of the Pak-Afghan borders with the respect and importance they deserve. Stopping the cross border attacks by the TTP and its affiliates from Afghanistan by the ISAF and its surrogate – the Afghan National Army – will be a major step in a positive direction. These violations induce a sense of insecurity in Pakistan and are likely to lead to the undermining of security in the entire western theatre of South Asia. It is also important that the US realizes the gravity of resolving the core issue of Kashmir, which with the introduction of nuclear deterrence in South Asia, has shifted the unending conflict to the realm of proxy war in Afghanistan. Unless the poignant radiation of threat posed by India from Afghanistan to Pakistan dissipates, the proponents of ‘strategic depth’ continue to have a strong case to plead for Pakistan.

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is of the opinion that

Pakistan’s view of Afghanistan is different from the strategy pursued by the US.Dr Henry Kissinger says that Afghanistan’s neighbours must be involved in Afghanistan’s solutions.At an event titled “Afghanistan

– Is There a Regional Endgame?” organized by the ‘Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’, Kissinger addressed a packed house. The former US diplomat said that the effect of the withdrawal of US forces from the region may even be greater on Afghanistan’s neighbours than on the US.On Pakistan, Kissinger said that “their [Pakistan’s] objectives were not identical to the US, and could not be identical from their [Pakistan’s] point of view.” As a result, he said, Pakistan not only tolerates sanctuaries, but also at some level encourages these safe havens. In the question and answer session, Kissinger, when asked about the Pakistan problem, said that Pakistan’s problem is long term, and depends on how Pakistan could find a national identity that is not based on ‘a fear of India’.30 Frank Ruggierro, US Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan said the US was hoping that the Istanbul conference would lead to support for the transition, respect for Afghanistan’s sovereignty and political reconciliation. Addressing the audience, Professor Vali Nasr, a former member of Richard Holbrooke’s team, said that the US has bad relations with the two countries that matter the most in the region: Iran and Pakistan. He added that both countries were ready to help the US leave, but not support the strategy US was pursuing. Both, Iran and Pakistan were planning for a post-US scenario in Afghanistan. He added that there was a lack of trust in the region with respect to the US strategy.Nasr also added that in the future, Pakistan doesn’t want the United States to have the capacity to strike at will, whereas Iran is strongly opposed to having US bases in Afghanistan.31Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a journalist and Wilson Center scholar, said that the key mistake was not syncing the military surge with the diplomatic surge. “The diplomatic reconciliation strategy wasn’t even articulated till later by Secretary Clinton in her Asia Society speech.” He also added that US should play a leading role in the reconciliation.Kissinger, in his remarks, added that that one of the problems is that there was a belief that solutions to problems could be reached in a finite period of time32.


Iran is a western neighbor of Pakistan, it also shares a border with Afghanistan.Both countries have competing interests in Afghanistan. Hence, in the past, Iranian policy in Afghanistan has had serious divergence from the Pakistani policy. Iran maintained a semblance of neutrality during Soviet occupation. Though it hosted a comparable number of Afghan refugees, it did not get actively involved in assisting Afghan resistance against the Soviets. Perhaps at that time the Iranian platter was too full to open another front with a super power of the day. Animosity with America and almost a decade long war with Iraq as well as quasi-hostility by neighbouring Arab countries hardly left any space for Iran to engage in an active role in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, it maintained influence amongst the Hazara community and Shia sectarian component of Afghanistan.

Soon after the withdrawal of the Soviets, Iran became active and formed an anti-Taliban alliance with the Northern Alliance of Rashid Dostum and aligned itself with the Indian policy in Afghanistan33. Even now Iran is engaged in ‘wait and see’ policy. It finances the Afghan government and Hazara and Shia communities and is yearning for a transit trade agreement with Afghanistan by offering its Chah Bahar port.In a bold move to assert itself,Iran in collaboration with India, is finalizing a plan to construct a railway line that will connect Chabahar port to the mineral-rich Hajigak region of Afghanistan34. It appears that after the departure of the Americans, Iran would once again repeat its actions of post Soviet era, and follow a trajectory of divergence with respect to Pakistani policies. Pakistan needs to engage Iran constructively to avoid such a scenario.


By and large, China’s role in the region has been of prudence. It prefers to act as an agent of stability. Despite its clout, it maintains a low profile in the Afghan conflict. With zero military involvement, China is engaged in mammoth economic activities in Afghanistan. China has inveseted heavily in the mining industry. By keeping itself restricted to economic related projects, China is indeed carving for itself a proposition for long term engagement in Afghanistan. It is expected that China would neither enter the race for a power game in Afghanistan, nor would it become a spoiler in the settlement process.35

Russia & Central Asia

It appears that Russia has not yet made up its mind regarding its future role in Asia. Its mood oscillates between the glory of yesteryears and a total lack of national will. Nevertheless, it voices its concern about the Afghan conflict in the context of its impact on Russia and Central Asia. Russia is of the opinion that the ISAF/NATO military operation in Afghanistan could hardly win the war.36

Russian opinion is that “ISAF military disproportionately uses destructive force, causing enormous devastation. Geographic scale of the conflict is widening – border areas of Pakistan are being bombed by drones. Direct foreign military presence in Pakistan, although recently limited, is a fact.Authorities of the NATO nations have declared the time-limit for this war, July 2014, but the ongoing conflict still is fraught with a serious threat for peace and security for the countries of the region including Russia. Threats to Russiaand Central Asia are: narcotics threat;terrorist threat;illegal migration; religious extremism and proliferation of conflict beyond Afghanistan.”37


From the ‘Strategic Perspective’,there are a number of approaches for achieving strategic depth. Each country has to device its own ways and means taking into account its geographic location and disposition,national power potential, national purpose,aim and core interests as well as the prevalent ‘strategic environment’.In some cases geographic location provides strategic depth, like America, and in other cases it denies such depth in a classical military context, like Pakistan and Israel etc.

Alliances and Treaties. Alliances and treaties have always been a way to forge cooperation amongst the ‘enemies of the enemy’. Major powers resort to develop outer rings of cordons tokeep the conflict zone away fromtheir own heartland. Post World War II military structures like NATO andthe Warsaw Pact were created to fight the future war in Europe instead of Soviet and American soil. Alliances also provide strategic depth.Israel’s close relations with America provide it strategic depth through diplomatic cushioning, military support and economic aid.Such alliances are also created to encircle the adversary. The South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) are examples of structures that were aimed at encirclingthe rising communist powers of that time38. These days America is striving to prop-up a multi-power centric Asia to encircle China. All such efforts boil down to either acquiring strategic depth or denying it to the adversary.

Strategic Depth through Deterrence. A strategy of deterrence may be considered as a substitute to physical strategic depth.Deterrence generates the fear in an adversary’s mind that implications of aggression may not be favourable in terms of cost/benefit.During the cold war era, terms like ‘Detente’, Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), tripwire strategy, massive retaliation, counter force and counter value, etc carried varying connotations in the context of creating an environment of deterrence to avoid war. Some of them carry relevance even today. For instance, if Pakistan and India reach a nuclear balance of force that creates a fear of MAD, then physical strategic depth would be inconsequential for either side. However, dangerous and provocative doctrinal approaches such as‘Cold Start Doctrine’ and ‘Limited Conventional War under Nuclear Overhang’ etc compel those responsible for the national defence of Pakistan to search for physical strategic depth.39

Strategic Depth through Proxy wars. All nuclear states tend to fight their nuclear adversaries through proxy wars. Proxies could be state actors, third party state actors or a combination of the two. Through these methodologies, usually undeclared wars are pursued outside ones territory.

Fielding Cheaper deterring Agents. Distant located super powers have a tendency to field regional aspirants or ideologically motivated sates, located in close proximity of their adversary as cheap deterring agents. Cuba acted as a cheap deterring agent during the cold war era. The attempt by the Soviets to deploy missiles in Cuba was a part of that strategy. These days India is performing this role for America to deter China on America’s behalf.

Strategic Depth through Indirect Strategy. Dependence on Strategic depth can be reduced by following an indirect strategy of pursuing core national interests. Once the option of achieving objectives through military instruments of power takes a back seat in a national policy, the relevance of strategic depth in terms of physical space is reduced. Pursuit of an indirect strategy is essentially achieved through diplomatic acumen, a cold calculative approach and a culture of patience in resolving issues. China is a strong proponent of this approach.

Strategic Depth through Speed and Reach. The ability of a state to respond to a crisis militarily with rapid speed and at far-out ranges from the country’s heartland also reduces the need for physical strategic depth. This can be achieved through capacity building in terms of an efficient intelligence and surveillance system, timely threat assessment and efficient mobility of forces. Strategic naval and air transport capability and Missile Defence Systems capable of intercepting and destroying hostile missiles hundreds of miles away are components of this strategy towards strategic depth40.

Strategic Depth thru’ ability to relocate/ reshape and restructure the conflict. A combination of diplomatic and military means meshed together to influenceworld opinion and project a desirable shape to a conflict that complements national objectives also reduces the necessity of physical depth. This capability requires active participation of media to attach the appropriate tags to an emerging conflict and isolate the adversary in the international arena. Creation of such a negative image about the adversary helps in attracting other nations and states as allies in isolating the adversary. The ability to structure an alliance, say like ISA, manifests into strategic depth. This ability helps in relocating and restructuring the conflict,like renaming the Afghan war theatre as Afpak etc.41

Depth through Military Bases on Foreign soil

To manage its strategic depth, for instance, America has a military presence in nearly 100 counties.It maintains 702 military installations in 63 countries, although the bulk of the personnel and equipment stationed abroad are in Germany and South Korea. Overseas bases run the gamut, from the heavily used Army base in Wiesbaden, Germany, to the little- used chemical storage yards in Italy. In total, there are 44,900 buildings housing overseas installations and about 190,000 active duty personnel plus thousands of spouses, dependents, civilian defense workers and contractors. Much of the maintenance at bases is contracted out. Now in Afghanistan, the US is demanding to maintain 5-8 bases as a precondition to withdraw. To do so, they have built some huge complexes that would be much beyond the needs of the Afghan security forces42.

Options & Compulsions

Options for evolving strategic depth vary from state to state. Depending upon the strategic environment, strengths & weaknesses and the ensuing compulsions, each country has to improvise its tool box and apply it in various combinations to achieve a sustainable strategic depth through economic leverages, diplomatic clout, historic, geographic, ethnic, religious and cultural linkages.


Participation in bilateral, regional, multi-lateral agreements, and being a party to international protocols, agreements and abiding by international norms provide strategic depth. A mindset of isolationism andunilateralism incrementally erodes strategic depth. Economic cooperation and military treaties have been traditional sources of developing strategic depth. Constructive engagements like cultural & educational exchanges and sports events etc provide sustainability for the acquired strategic depth. People to people goodwill is the strongest structure for enduring strategic depth, whereas coercion through military means and diplomatic arm twisting are the most fragile way of retaining strategic depth. Reaching out to the people of other countries, especially neighbouring ones, during their trying times like natural calamities breed enduring goodwill among the nations which is a synonym of strategic depth.43


Conventionally, Pakistan has been viewing its national security in a narrow perspective, confining it to “the integrity of the national territory and its institutions.” This notion represents only the ‘defence’ component of national security. There is a need to transcend to the wholesome rendition of national security focusing at: “Absence of threat to acquired values.”

Paradoxically, a significant portion of threat to Pakistan emanates from the space that lies between the boundaries of the national defence domain and the outer parameters of national security. This however does not mean that there is no significant military threat; point to note is that the difficulties in the areas beyond the defence domain are coming back in circles to further accentuate the military component of threat.

Drone and suicide bombings are the new facets of contemporary warfare. Moreover, all nuclear states have a tendency to indulge in proxy wars through non-state actors and third party state-actors. There are huge gaps in the counter ballistic missile regimes. These military related issues inspire a relook at the traditional concept of national security. Ensuing vulnerabilities suggest that ‘indirect strategy’ must take precedence over ‘direct strategy’.

Major concerns to our national security radiate from: international isolation, poor governance, a shaky economy, lack of control over non- state actors, an aura of insecurity amongst the general public, no-go areas in the context of imposition of the state’s writ, penetration of foreign influence in our domestic media, lack of our outreach to international media, ability of foreign intelligence agencies to penetrate into our socio-political fabric, etc. Ambiguities as to whose war are we fighting have resulted in a huge perceptional gap between the national policy (both political and military) and public opinion. This dichotomy has the potential of tearing apart the fabric of the state.

From the military perspective, the biggest challenge is to restore public confidence in the ability of the armed forces to provide security to the people in the wake of an external threat. The Abbottabad incident has eroded this confidence. The next challenge is to secure our strategic assets against a false flag operation by extra regional forces. And finally, to repulse any attempts of aggression through violation of our land and airspace.

The Turkish doctrine put forward by its foreign minister Ahmet Devatoglu, in his illustrated book “Strategic Depth: Turkey’s International Position” offers a viable strategy model, that could be appropriately reconfigured for Pakistan as well.It suggests: settle all internal issues, resolve all bilateral disputes to achieve “zero problems” with neighbours, “de-securitization” offoreign policy and transforming to an economy oriented state, and improve international outreach by playing the role of mediator ininternational conflicts45.

In search of upgrading the national security, Pakistan is in the process of extending its outreach to all regional countries, like Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Central Asian Republics, China and even India. Projects like IPI, TAPI, and CASA 2000,etc indicate that Pakistan is genuinely looking for strategic depth through interdependencies, and not inthe military sense of yesteryears. In contrast to military basing on foreign soil, Pakistan viewsthe South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Shangai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) etc as vital instruments for achieving its objectives.

It will be oversimplification to state that instead of seeking strategic depth, Pakistan should befriend India. The Pakistan-India relationship is rather complex and its drag cannot be just wished away. To understand the Indian disposition towards Pakistan, one has to be a Pakistani; others are likely to be swayed by Indian propaganda. At the same time it would be naïve to assume that Pakistan envisages fighting Indians in the suburbs of Kabul.46


Pakistan has been trying various options for achieving sustainable strategic depth. It has come a long way from the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD), SEATO, and CENTO days. A rocky and unpredictable Pak-US relationship has resulted in a search by Pakistani policy makers to look for alternatives, albeit occasionally and halfheartedly. However, over the years, Pakistan’s multi-dimensional dependence on America has become rather acute. At the same time American influence in Pakistani decision making circles and intelligentsia is phenomenal. However, the pro-America constituency is shrinking incrementally. America’s policy of de-hyphenating Pakistan and India has further accentuated the sense of insecurity in Pakistan. Even though this policy has created more problems than it could solve for America as well, yet, there are no signs of revision in American policy.

Pakistan is suffering from two acute ailments; a lack of security and underdevelopment. It needs to develop to be secure; and conversely,it needs to be secure to develop. Paradoxically, Pakistan is not short of resources, abundant natural and human resources provide adequate potential for overcoming these problems. The worrisome issue, however, is a sharp deterioration in the quality of governance and no apparent signs of a reversal of trends.

1 Britta Petersen; “On strategic depth—a European point of view;”“Express

Tribune” (Islamabad), 27 October, 2011.

2 Ejaz Haider; “Pakistan needs strategic depth.”Express Tribune (Islamabad),

07 October, 2011.

3 Admiral (R) Fasih Bokhari led team of ‘Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Association’ (PEAS); ‘A Suggested National Security Policy of “Peace at Home and Peace Abroad” for Pakistan’, CRITERION Quarterly, Islamabad, July/September,

2011; Volume 6, Number 3.

4 Khalid Iqbal, “Notion of Strategic Depth”; A paper read at a Round Table Conference organised by ‘’Pakistan Observer”, at Aiwan-i-Quaid, Islamabad. Seminar on “Threat to Pakistan’s Sovereignty—Way out”, 29 September.

5 Iftikhar Momin, “Relevance of strategic depth scenarios”; The Nation

(Islamabad) October 17, 2011.

6 Mmdon, Battle of El-Alamin; alamin


8 Ibid.

9 Ahmet Davutoglu, “Strategik Derinlik, Turkiye’nin Uluslararasi Konumu”

(Strategic Depth, Turkey’s International

Position) (Istanbul: Kure Yayinlari, 2001).For further discussion on this doctrine, see Joshua Walker, ‘Learning Strategic Depth: Implications of Turkey’s new foreign policy doctrine,’ Insight Turkey, Vol. 9, No. 3, (2007), 32–47.

10 Air Commodore (Retd) Khalid Iqbal,‘Challenges to Pakistan’s Security and Defence’; a paper read at Institute of Policy Study’s seminar: “Pakistan Today: Challenges and Response”, on 24 October, 2011

11 Fazal-ur Rahim Marwat, “The Durand Line Issue”, Frontier Post, 17 October


12 Frederic Grare, “Pakistan–Afghanistan Relations in the Post-9/11 Era”, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Paper No. 72 (October 2006).


2011:08; Danish Institute for International Studies, DIIS Strandgade 56, DK-

1401 Copenhagen, Denmark;

14 Khalid Iqbal, “POST 9/11 STOCKTAKING”; The Nation (Lahore); 19

September 2011.

15 Air Commodore (R) Khalid Iqbal, AMERICA’S WONDROUS AFGHANISTAN”; The Frontier Post (Peshawar); on 12 Oct, 2011.

16 Ibid.

17 Iftikhar Momin, “Relevance of strategic depth scenarios”;The Nation

18 Ibid.

19 President Hamid Karzai, “Kabul to stand by Pakistan if US or India attack;”The News (Karachi); 23 Oct 2011, (reproduced from Geo interview by Saleem Safi in “Jirga” at 2200 hrs on 22 Oct, 2011).

20 Ibid

21 Ibid

22 Air Commodore (R) Khalid Iqbal; “AFGHANISTAN JIGSAW”;”Pakistan

Observer (Islamabad), 31 October, 2011.

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

26 Ibid.

27 M K Bhadrakumar; “Pakistan to Play a Major Role in Afghanistan”; ‘Asia times’, 24 October, 2011.

28 Iftikhar Momin, “Relevance of strategic depth scenarios”;The Nation

(Islamabad) October 17, 2011.

29 Huma Imtiaz, “Neighbours must get involved in Afghanistan solution”:Kissinger”;“Express Tribune, (Islamabad)pp.9; 02 November ,


30 Pakistan Observer (Islamabad),pp 01; 02 November, 2011; “India’s Track- III Afghan-Iran rail link to lower Pak influence”.

31 Ibid.

32 Ibid.

33 Ibid.

34 Pakistan Observer (Islamabad),pp 01; 02 November, 2011; “India’s Track- III Afghan-Iran rail link to lower Pak influence”.

35 Tiffany Ng, “China’s Role in Shaping the Future of Afghanistan;” http:// afghanistan/6jc

36 Dr Andrey V.Demidov; “Threats and Challenges for the National Security of the Russian Federation Resulting from the Present-day Situation in Afghanistan.” (Writeris PhD (Political Science) and is Consul General of the Russian Federation in Karachi).

37 Ibid.

38 John M. Collins, “Grand Strategy Principles and Practices”, Naval Institute

Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 1973.

39 Ibid.

40 Air Power Doctrine, AP 3000; Royal Air Force, 1991.

41 Raja Mujtaba, “The Incomplete Istanbul Conference.”http://www.opinion-

42 Ibid.

43 Iftikhar Momin, “Relevance of strategic depth scenarios”; The Nation

(Islamabad) October 17, 2011.


44 Air Commodore (R) Khalid Iqbal; “Challenges to Pakistan’s Security and Defence”. An abridged form of a paper read at ‘Institute of Policy Studies’Islamabad, seminar “Pakistan Today: Challenges and Response” on

24 October, 2011.

45 Ejaz Haider; “Pakistan needs strategic depth.”Express Tribune (Islamabad),

07 October, 2011.

46 Lt Gen (R) Asad Durrani; “Strategic Depth Revisited.”Express Tribune

(Islamabad),19 October, 2011.