India-Pakistan conflict and nuclear deterrence

Nadeem Qadir
Published : 19:45, Feb 28, 2019 | Updated : 19:47, Feb 28, 2019

Nadeem QadirAny conflict between India and Pakistan raises concerns not only in South Asia, but around the world because both are armed with nuclear weapons. On the other hand, one school of thought maintains that there is no reason to worry as the two countries never resort to a nuclear war.
This view is heartening, but military experts have said that if a major conflict breaks out no one enjoys full control and it could be catastrophic.
The memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still haunts the world. Experts insist that the Introduction of nuclear weapons has transformed global politics as well as the military power.
“The primary purpose of acquiring a nuclear weapon is to prevent wars among nuclear-capable adversaries through maintaining deterrence stability. The concept which has dominated the global politics is that war is not a rational mean to achieve political objectives while the strategy of nuclear deterrence is considered as a dominant aspect of nuclear strategy. Nuclear deterrence in South Asia is significant as it has played a vital role to prevent nuclear and conventional wars,” according to the South Asian Journal.
The “Islamic Bomb” of Pakistan introduced the nuclear race in South Asia. India being a regional power had no choice but to get its own nuclear weapon to face off Pakistan and China, its second adversary.
The current conflict was triggered by the killing of 49 Paramilitary personnel in Kashmir region by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad. India sent in its war planes in a revenge attack into Pakistan to wipe of a major concentration of three terrorist camps.
One would hope that nuclear deterrence has worked with both the countries declaring they did not want the conflict to escalate.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister said in a televised address to the nation, "History tells us that wars are full of miscalculation. My question is that given the weapons we have can we afford miscalculation. We should sit down and talk. I am again inviting you (India) for talks on the current situation.”

On the other hand India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters as both sides used war planes and exchanged fire across the Line of Control (LoC) showing off each others’ might, that India did not want any "further escalation of the situation" and would "continue to act with responsibility and restraint".

Swaraj stressed that Islamabad Pakistan had not heeded India’s request not to allow militants on its soil as India mourned the death of its 40-odd soldiers.

 "In the light of continuing refusal of Pakistan to acknowledge and act against terror groups on its territory, and based on credible information that JeM was planning other attacks in parts of India, the Government of India decided to take pre-emptive action and the target was selected in order to avoid civilian casualties," she added.

The revenge strike by Indian Air Force on militants based in Pakistan was inevitable after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned of an appropriate reply following popular demands after the Pulwama killings. Apparently Islamabad is to be squarely blamed for the current conflict.

Pakistan is a rogue country with a lust for blood and has sponsored these militant groups.

Pakistan is a sore in South Asia as having failed to deliver with years of military rule or a continued pseudo military rule behind the facade of democracy and political corruption, it has been after its arch-rival India over the Kashmir issue and since 1971 it chose violence and intrigue to fight Bangladesh even after its independence.

Pakistan’s cricket hero Imran Khan took over as Prime Minister facing allegations that he had won with the backing of the army. This means Pakistan is still ruled by the military behind the scenes and it loves to kill people. This army has a lust for blood.

After India claimed to have killed at least 350 militants belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad with a surprise air strike on the Pakistani side, Islamabad sent in its war planes. Cross border exchange of fire followed.

There is no magic solution to the Kashmir issue, but sending militants or its soldiers inside India to kill not only uniformed personnel but also innocent people is totally unacceptable. Mostly tourists were killed in the Bombay attack. The 49 soldiers killed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad have not taken the Kashmir issue a step closer towards solution. Thus, such killings are meaningless.

New Delhi is accused of human rights abuses in the Kashmir region in the naming of clearing militants, should be also be restrained as in many cases innocent people fell victim to such actions giving birth to anti-India sentiments and pro-militant support.

It is next to impossible that the two nuclear-armed countries would go for an all out war despite rising tensions, but these smaller conflicts such as the one in Kargil, costs many lives which go in vain.

One would hope that the region would not be put at risk by the two neighbours. It is high time the Kashmir standoff is amicably solved with urgent steps to end the current threat to regional peace and stability. Turkey has said the issue can be solved.

Since Pakistan is seen to be the trouble monger, the onus of peaceful coexistence lies with it. New Delhi and Islamabad must work to find a solution to the Kashmir dispute with both sides restraining themselves from resorting to more violence. Instead why don't they agree to make some mutual concessions and win the Noble Peace prize?

Surely, lives are more valuable than the land in Kashmir.

A UN Dag Hammarskjöld fellow, Nadeem Qadir is the consulting editor at the Daily Sun. 

***The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions and views of Bangla Tribune.