How long can Pak sustain a war?
In the last three months, according to various Indian intelligence estimates, the Pakistani army has shifted three more units from the border with India to the tribal areas of Waziristan or FATA. This brings to 100 the total number of units now deployed in fighting Taliban insurgents.
To get a better sense of the size of these units, here's a breakup: Four division headquarters (a division is around 10,000 men) and 22 Brigade headquarters (a brigade is around 2,500 men). That brings the figure to 95,000 men of a total army of 700,000. It would be safe to assume the rest remain focussed on India. So the pitch by some quarters about the "changing Pakistani mindset" regarding India is to put it mildly misplaced.
How long could Pakistan fight a war (other than the one in Waziristan)? From published reports, it seems the Pak army had geared itself for a conflict ranging from 30 to 45 days. But reports in 2007 indicated that the top brass had revised those figures downward to 25 days. Meaning, it had sufficient stocks of arms, ammunition, food and fuel to last 25 days. This translated into:
-- Small arms/ammo = 90 days stocks
-- Mortar shells+anti-tank = 30 days stocks
-- Anti-Tank Guided Munitions = 15 days stocks
ARTILLERY (shells) +AIR DEFENCE (surface to air missiles) +AVIATION (bombs/ammo) = 30 days stocks
But Pakistan's ability to fight a war ultimately depends on its economy. It's been evident for many years that the Pakistani economy has been barrelling down the tube. Infusions of US aid have only given the illusion of growth. The continuance of that aid now looks doubtful given the downward graph in ties with Washington. Add to that a debilitating internal conflict, administrative collapse and political discord.
Given that, 25 days seems ambitious. The shrinking economy may give Pakistan only a few days of war fighting capability.
More about Surya GangadharanSurya Gangadharan is International Affairs Editor at CNN IBN and was in Egypt to cover the anti-government movement. He has covered wars in Afghanistan, the UN intervention in Somalia and Rwanda, elections in Pakistan and the civil conflict in Sri Lanka where he interviewed the top leadership of that time. He has worked for the Straits Times Group in Singapore and also for PTI, the Indian Express and India Today in India.
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