A delegation of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence under the leadership of Chairperson Senate Committee on Defense, Senator Walid Iqbal along with other honourable Senators including Senators Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Abdur Rehman Malik, Lt. Gen. Abdul Qayyum (Retd) and Mushtaq Ahmed, visited the Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS) at Islamabad on October 30, 2019. The visit aimed to provide an insight into the working of CASS, and project its expertise in the field of aerospace and security studies. The session comprised of an introductory video, a presentation predicting Regional Dynamics after Pulwama crisis with particular emphasis on PAF Operation Swift Retort i.e. Pakistan’s response. The session also provided an introduction to the PAF Megaproject Aviation City, which aims to develop the aviation hub concept and strengthen national efforts to boost the economy and social development through avenues such as CPEC.
The Chairman of Defence Committee Senator Waleed Iqbal thanked CASS and in particular Deputy President CASS, Air vice Marshal Aamir Masood for organising this introductory visit and introduced his delegation members. President CASS Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat (Retd) in his welcome address thanked the honourable Senators for visiting CASS and emphasised on the need of having more interactions with the parliamentarians. He emphasized upon the need to have specific objectives and how to achieve them in an organised manner. He said that ways and strategies to achieve our objectives can vary as it involves steps and measures at various levels. President CASS briefed the committee members about the role of this new Centre in assisting the Air Force as an independent research think tank to study air space power by engaging leading thinkers and researchers in the field, arranging conferences, conducting thorough research and publishing reports, research papers and articles. Prominent steps taken by the centre included round table discussion on Pulwama incident, a Think Tanks conference on Kashmir issue and a dialogue on quest for security and stability Pakistan. Air Marshal Javed Ahmed (Retd) Director CASS gave a briefing to the members of the committee on the Predictiving Regional Dynamics after the Pulwama incident and on PAF operation Swift Retort. The briefing highlighted that Pakistani strikes in response to Indian aggression crossed India’s embarrassment threshold and it set a new precedent in the regional calculus. He stressed that Pakistan needs to consider all elements of national power and needs to review and upgrade its security, diplomatic, economic, military and media strategy particularly vis-à-vis India. He also stressed on the need to harness indigenous potential.
Dr. Usman Chohan, Director for Economics and National affairs, CASS gave a detailed briefing on the aviation city project being undertaken by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra and shared his findings on its economic potential by connecting it with proposed Special Economic Zones, CPEC, and the new national aviation policy. He also touched upon the the novel concept of Aerotropolis where the airport would be at the centre of any new metropolis. The briefing also enunciated upon the technological and economic benefits of the project as well as the environmental considerations, in addition to strategic and diplomatic challenges and resource constraints.
The comprehensive briefing was followed by an interactive and insightful question and answer session. Chairman Committee Senator Waleed Iqbal emphasised and appreciated the role of Pakistan Air Force in not just protecting and defending the frontiers and borders but also in countering insurgency and terrorism within the country. Senator Mushahid Hussain remarked that on the outset it may look that Pakistan has missed the opportunities but India’s image has been tarnished and Pakistan is not standing alone in the global community. He also called for the need of having a sound India policy. He urged the government to make the Foreign Office more proactive. Senator Rehman Malik observed that we need to come up with aggressive policies as this is the age is of fifth generation hybrid warfare and India is construing its narrative very actively and we despite knowing India as our biggest enemy we haven’t been able to counter their narrative.
Senator Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qayyum added that we need to seriously analyze where we missed a significant opportunity and what could have been done better. He observed that in order to make ourselves compatible with changing needs we ought to see and improve our defence production mechanism, state of our economy and protect and preserve our national unity. The efficiency of the armed forces was dependent on a vibrant economy according to him. Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said that more or less all humanitarian reports such as that of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch regarding Kashmir substantiated Pakistan’s stance and the narrative could be built effectively but Pakistan did not capitalise on the opportunity. He said that Pakistan is merely giving responses and needs to be proactive.
The Chairman of Defence Committee Senator Waleed Iqbal in his closing remarks observed that institutes like CASS are a depiction of the philosophy of utilising our true potential and doing our best to achieve our purpose. He said that study of international politics tells us that the world is not fair and nations’ actions are driven by their interests, hence Pakistan should also protect its own interests and should work to shock the conscience of the world.
The committee recommended to the government to provide financial and administrative support to the project of Aviation City and assured CASS of all our support for its success.
Chairman Committee was presented with shields and souvenirs by President CASS Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat and Deputy Chief of Air Staff Training Air Vice Marshal Aamir Masood on behalf of the Chief of Air Staff.