July 12, 2021 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 295

Pakistani Commentator Maria Ali: 'The Same War Model That Turkey And Azerbaijan Used In Nagorno-Karabakh Has Begun To Be Used For The Independence Of Kashmir' – The Emerging Security Scenario In Afghanistan Imperils India's Role In Kashmir

July 12, 2021 | By Tufail Ahmad*
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey | MEMRI Daily Brief No. 295

With the Afghan Taliban seizing control of about 100 Afghan districts and marching toward Kabul, the regional security situation emerging in and around Afghanistan is set to imperil India's role in Kashmir. India has recently spent billions of U.S. dollars to acquire advanced weapons, notably buying Rafale fighter jets from the French manufacturer Dassault in a $9.3 billion-deal currently being investigated by a French judge for corruption.[1]

However, these days India is being defeated in usual ways – China acquired 1,000 square kilometers of the area in Ladakh, which sits atop Jammu & Kashmir, following border fighting in the summer of 2020.[2] Sometimes, nuclear bombs and Rafale fighter jets are useless.

International security is a function of intellectual vigilance, foreseeing threats before they emerge, and preparing for any eventuality. Often a lack of perspective about emerging ground realities takes nations by surprise. In the early hours of June 27, 2021, India was surprised – once again – after two drones caused two explosions in "the technical area" of an air force station in Jammu, according to a tweet by the Indian Air Force.[3]

A supporter holds the Afghan Taliban flag aloft with the seized armoury.

It has been staring in the eyes of the world that Turkey is seeding, in a budding partnership with Pakistan, a new strategic environment from Turkey and Azerbaijan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to Kashmir. Coupled with China's role in the Afghan-Kashmir region, Turkey has engendered a fundamentally new security scenario. Drones are central to Turkey's strategic thinking, as we saw in the Nagorno-Karabakh war of 2020.

In the Nagorno-Karabakh war, the Turkish and Pakistani militaries aided Azerbaijan's armed forces against Armenia. Although Pakistan denied military involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh war, there is enough evidence in the public domain that the Pakistani military did play a vital role in the war against Armenia. The October 1, 2020 issue of the Pakistani Urdu-language daily Roznama Ummat, read in part: "After the beginning of the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Pakistan and Turkey are siding with the brotherly Islamic country of Azerbaijan."[4]

In fact, Pakistan's military involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh War was proactive and substantive.[5] Syed Ali Haider, a senior journalist and host with Pakistan's leading television channel Samaa, published a video on YouTube about Pakistan's role in the Nagorno-Karabakh war, stating in Urdu: "The Pakistani Air Force's training [of the Azeri air force] worked" wonders against Armenia.[6]

The other important lesson from the Nagorno-Karabakh war is: Turkey used drones to dominate the war against Armenia, ultimately ensuring Azerbaijan's military victory. TRT World,[7] a television channel run by the Turkish government, observed: "Turkish-made drones helped Azerbaijan push out Armenian forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which was at the center of the military escalation."[8]

Pakistani commentator Maria Ali: Pakistan will become "Islam's military leader"

There is a growing concern that Turkey is helping the Pakistani military produce drones, which may be used against Indian security forces in Kashmir and against anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan. In November 2020, Kashmiri journalist Younis Dar wrote that Pakistan was buying "mini drones" from Turkey and noted: "The Islamic nation is negotiating a deal to buy small drones from multiple Turkish companies to bolster its UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] fleet for deployment against India."[9]

Nowadays if you go to Azerbaijan and tell anyone that you are a Pakistani or Turkish national, people will welcome you with a big hug and warm hospitality. After Turkey and Pakistan tasted military victory, their ambitions grew further. Pakistan was already sensing victory for the Afghan Taliban, who are aided by the Pakistani military and intelligence services. Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan have, following the Nagorno-Karabakh War and as U.S. and NATO troops leave Afghanistan, viewed Afghanistan as a member of a quadrilateral alliance ready to shape the regional security situation, with Islam being their singular binding force.

Pakistani commentator Maria Ali said that Pakistan will become "Islam's military leader."[10] She added: "The same war model that Turkey and Azerbaijan used in Nagorno-Karabakh has begun to be used now for the independence of Kashmir. The time has come for the Muslims to hold their heads high. Very soon, Pakistan, Turkey, China, Azerbaijan, and Afghanistan [when the Taliban take over Kabul] together are going to start a decisive battle for the liberation of Kashmir. And we hope, Allah willing, that Pakistan will be successful in this."[11]

In the imagination of strategic thinkers in Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan, Afghanistan is set – after the Taliban seize power in Kabul – to play a vital role in the regional security situation. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Afghan Taliban organization that cannot function for a day without Pakistan's military support) is already part of this quadrilateral alliance. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Afghan Taliban's operational chief, has imbibed this alliance in his strategic thinking. Addressing the Taliban commanders somewhere in Afghanistan early this year, Sirajuddin Haqqani spoke of drone strikes as central to the Taliban strategy.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, in a warning aimed at the U.S., said: "Since the U.S. administration has changed, NATO & U.S. are bluffing. Do not be affected by these bluffs. 15 years ago, we fought them with faith & with weaker military strength. Today we have both. We have the technology to use drones, we have our own missiles. This time if the mujahideen resume fighting, it would be something they have never seen before. They will wish the battlefield was like in the past."[12]

The June 27 drone strike at the Indian Air Fore installation in Jammu is part of the emerging security situation being actively shaped by Turkey and Pakistan. It has complicated the Kashmir issue to India's disadvantage, as China digs underground bunkers and tunnels in Ladakh, builds new military camps for its soldiers, amasses its troops along India's borders to unprecedented levels. If India had prevented the drones from striking at its air force station in Jammu, it would have proven to the enemy that the country is prepared.

In March 2019, a Pakistani drone tried to enter Indian airspace in the Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan state. In June and October of 2020, Pakistani drones were shot down in Jammu & Kashmir. The drones in Jammu too should have been shot down. Like nuclear weapons, sophisticated warplanes such as Rafales might be irrelevant if India cannot meet the security challenge emanating from Turkey, Pakistan, and a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

* Tufail Ahmad is a Senior Fellow at MEMRI


[1] (France), July 2, 2021.

[3], June 27, 2021.

[4] MEMRI Daily Brief No. 258, Pakistan's Military Involvement In The Nagorno-Karabakh War, February 9, 2021.

[5] MEMRI Daily Brief No. 258, Pakistan's Military Involvement In The Nagorno-Karabakh War, February 9, 2021.

[6] MEMRI Daily Brief No. 258, Pakistan's Military Involvement In The Nagorno-Karabakh War, February 9, 2021.

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