Why does the Pakistani military pick unwinnable fights?

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad in The Nation:

Ahmad_praetorianinstincts_ba_imgPakistan suffers from an enduring sense of vulnerability that was born of the calamities that attended its creation. It was the trauma of partition that formed Pakistan’s national psyche. The new nation inherited all of British India’s security challenges but with a fraction of its resources. In the post-partition distribution of state assets, it got the short end of the stick. Its military was formed from the rump of the old British Indian Army. Handicapped and impoverished, it had to contend with a troubled western frontier where Afghanistan—the only country to vote against its admission to the United Nations—was making irredentist claims. Its eastern neighbor, India, bore it even less good will. Its most populous province, Bengal, was separated by over a thousand miles of hostile territory.

The latent threats were not long in materializing. Pakistan went to war with India over Kashmir shortly after partition. The partition protocols had given the subcontinent’s princely states the right to accede to Pakistan or India. Among these were three large Muslim-majority states: Junagadh, Hyderabad and Kashmir. India forcefully annexed the first two. The third had a Hindu maharaja ruling over a 77 percent Muslim population. In a controversial move, the British had awarded India a land corridor to Kashmir. Fearing that Kashmir would suffer the fate of Junagadh and Hyderabad, members of Pakistan’s military and political establishments conspired to infiltrate tribal militants into the valley. Alarmed by insurgent advances, the maharaja appealed to India’s British governor general, Lord Mountbatten, who agreed to intervene if the maharaja signed the instrument of accession. In short order, Indian troops marched in and beat back the tribesmen, triggering the first shooting war between the two nascent states. India appealed to the UN, and the Security Council passed Resolution 47, which called for an immediate cease-fire and a plebiscite to decide the future of Kashmir. The resolution was never implemented.

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