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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

National Centre of Gravity

“To achieve victory we must mass our forces at the hub of all power and movement. The enemy’s "center of gravity”~ Karl Von Clausewitz

In a competitive examination 30 years ago, we were asked to briefly explain General Von Clausewitz’s theory of the Centre of Gravity (CoG) and explain in details its application in the context of India and Pakistan. It was an interesting challenge for young minds and I am reminded of that question after a lapse of three decades after reading a tweet from an American analyst well known for her anti Pakistan Army stance.

Vom Kriege is a book on “war and military strategy” by Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831), written mostly after the Napoleonic wars, between 1816 and 1830, and published posthumously by his wife Marie von Brühl in 1832. It has been translated into English several times as “On War. Clausewitz had set about revising his accumulated manuscripts in 1827, but did not live to finish the task. His wife edited his collected works and published them between 1832 and 1835. This term "center of gravity" (Schwerpunkt) appears about 40 times in Clausewitz's book, most often with no particular or consistent meaning and his use of the term varies greatly from discussion to discussion. There are likely few strategic concepts that instigate arguments more than Clausewitz’s CoG. The 19th century Prussian theorist called the Schwerpunkt the point where all force must be directed. But just what is Schwerpunkt? That depends greatly on who answers. For Clausewitz, the COG represented the source of the opponent’s power and strength and was therefore “the point against which all our energies should be directed.” Here the application of force should most likely result in the enemy’s defeat. Specific to the military leaders, a "friendly" CoG is that element—a characteristic, capability, or locality—that enables one's own or allied forces to accomplish their objectives. Conversely, an opponent's CoG is that element that prevents friendly forces from accomplishing their objectives. According to Professor Lawrence Freedman (book, Strategy: A History), “a compound definition for a CoG could refer to a target, or a number of targets, which might constitute a source of enemy strength and/or a critical vulnerability, found in the physical, psychological or political spheres which might, if attacked, have by itself, or alternatively in combination with other events, a decisive effect or else possibly result in consequences with potentially decisive effects”. Therefore, at national level it could have much wider meanings and application i.e. national ideology, a political system, an economic system; effective System of Governance, Constitution, Justice System, potent Armed Forces and Defence Capability….. The effective targeting and failure of which would cause the whole to crumble.

I opined in 1990 that for Pakistan the CoG was the cohesive integrity of the Armed Forces of Pakistan and for India it was their political system based on the founding principle of Unity in Diversity. Had this question been asked before 1971, perhaps my opinion about Pakistan’s CoG would have been different. Although my view was apolitical; yet, I remained conscious of the fact that maybe my opinion was biased being a person in uniform. As years went by, the internal, regional and international developments and the role played by Pakistan Armed Forces kept reminding me about the pertinence of my expressed views but with thirst for validation by a neutral expert. I felt greatly relieved and vindicated when I just read a tweet (shared by a friend) by sworn anti Pakistan Army, an American political analyst Christine Fair:For Pakistan state to collapse, it is basically Pakistan Army, which has to collapse. For better or worse, I do not see that happening”. Dr. Fair’s tweet is also an eye opener for Army bashers in Pakistan who with blinkers of corruption, foreign funding and misplaced self serving political affinity try to undermine their own security forces and intelligence institutions that tantamount to cutting the branch on which they are sitting.

The story of Pakistan is a well known incessant struggle to survive in the face of numerous existential threats on internal and external fronts. The only effectively functional institution that has kept the national fabric from being torn apart is the Armed Forces of Pakistan, which despite effectively confronting hundreds of internal and external challenges remain the prime target of forces hostile to Pakistan. Unfortunately, the internal actors who thrive on corrupt practices under umbrellas of different shades join the antagonists’ chorus forgetting the debacle of losing East Pakistan where India trained, equipped and funded Mukti Bahni, orchestrated the biggest covert war in former East Pakistan by turning the locals against small size Army and exploited the political unrest to dismember Pakistan. Immediately after this greatest debacle of Pakistan’s history, Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi gleefully announced, “we have taken the revenge from Muslims for 1000 years of slavery”. Pakistan Armed Forces learnt the right lesson and developed potent conventional punch besides nuclear deterrence. Pakistan Armed Forces role in defeating the former Soviet Union and victory against global war on terror is globally acknowledged with envy. The Kargil pincer still sends chills down Indian spine. Although Indian along with hostile forces has consistently attacked Pakistan on all national fronts including attempts to undermine national ideology, culture, religion, economy, media, political and education system; yet, the main effort of Indian onslaught has remained focused on creating a bad image of Pakistan Armed Forces (particularly Pak Army). Alhamdulillah, Armed Forces remain steadfast and successful by blunting all offensive overtures by India and other hostile forces.

As for India, before Modi became prime minister in 2014, successive political governments effectively took care of their national CoG. However, rise of RSS/ BJP Nazi Hindutva ideology manifested by Modi and his team by removing the mask of nonalignment and a tolerant democracy, spread Islamophobia in sync with POTUS Trump, which resulted in torturing Muslims all over India and more so in Illegally Indian Occupied Kashmir(IIOJK). To further damage the India CoG, PM Modi abrogated article 35 A and 370 of Indian constitution depriving disputed Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, year later declaring it part of India, introduction of Kashmiri domicile to Indian citizens for quickly changing its demography to permanently enslave Kashmiri Muslims, made Sainak (military) colonies for retired Indian military personnel and development of Special Industrial Zones for Hindu investors to take complete control of economy in IIOJK. RSS/ BJP led extreme maltreatment of Muslim majority coupled with other minorities including low caste Hindus is badly shaking the CoG as the founding political principle of Unity in Diversity has been buried by Modi’s fanatic government. What started as demolition of Bari Masjid (mosque) for building Ram Mandir (temple), in the last six years has grown up to turn India into a literal Hindustan i.e. a country only for Hindus where minorities have to either convert to Hinduism or leave India. That has also been institutionalized by enacting Citizenship amendment act by Indian BJP Government depriving Muslims of Indian citizenship rights. Consequently, Hindustan is seeing the rise of more freedom struggles, more insurgencies and worse relationships with all neighbouring countries including China, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other SAARC countries. Indian economy is dwindling but Modi is busy in an arms race with China, further accentuating the miseries of Millions of Indians living below the poverty line. In nutshell, RSS/ BJP government has exposed Indian vulnerabilities that directly pose threat to her national CoG; that is how Hitler was also blinded by his extremist Nazism.

Countries hostile to Pakistan relentlessly keep exploiting Pakistan’s political, economic, poor governance, corruption, ethnic and sectarian fault lines in order to keep Pak Army committed on undue multiple fronts in order to disturb balance so badly needed to safeguard national CoG. The political and Military leadership of Pakistan will be well advised if the subject phenomenon and concept is comprehended and heeded to by introducing out of box solutions sooner than later. Each nationality contains its centre of happiness within itself, as a bullet the centre of gravity~.

25 August 2020

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