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Disquieting Signs from the Other Hot Spot

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Pakistan and India are building up forces along the border:

Senior Pakistani security and defense officials said Friday the military had moved a “limited number” of troops fighting Taliban militants in the tribal areas near Afghanistan to the Indian border as a “minimum security” measure.

This followed intelligence intercepts indicating that India had put its forces on notice to move to the border and cancelled all leave, they said. An Indian army spokesman however told AFP that no troops had been moved.

Alex Harrowell games out what a shortish conflict might look like:

Just using the Jaguars, Mirages, and any Sukhois assigned to the job, 5,000 aiming points would be attacked in 17 days at 2 sorties/aircraft/day. It’s fair to rule out many missions covering more than one target – this won’t be Afghanistan or even Iraq or even Iran. Pakistan has a lot of rather old but much-upgraded Mirage IIIs, Chinese-made MiG-21s, and some very new Chinese JF-17s that really, nobody knows much about. Assuming 75% serviceability, it would be a theoretical 23 day campaign, but this doesn’t count the major commitment of fighters and defence suppression aircraft.

Clearly, however, there is no quick and relatively safe option. If Indian planning is anything like Barbora’s remarks, this means major war, with the certainty of the biggest air battle in living memory, the near certainty of a major mountain battle in Kashmir, a significant risk of the armies fighting out a battle of manoeuvre further south, and some risk of nuclear war.

On the brightish side, Fester points out that impending economic collapse in Pakistan will make an extended mobilization difficult:

Pakistan can not afford any more indirect or direct economic disruption. The country received the first tranche of an IMF bail-out in November, and the follow-up tranches are conditional upon policy changes. The IMF would be very unwilling to release several billion more dollars to fund a Pakistani military mobilization and limited operations. This is one of the potential brakes on the crisis; Pakistan does not have the economic capacity to sustain any significant escalation.

Thank God for small favors, I suppose.

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