What Is The Possibility Of An Indo-Pak Nuclear War?
Ishtiaq Ahmed analyses the tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of revocation of Article 370 in Occupied Kashmir and discusses the possibility of a war between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
I have been listening to TV channel discussions from both India and Pakistan on the post-Article 370 and 35 A situation in the region.
As far as I understand, India will not reverse the decision it took on 5 August 2019. The Indian Supreme Court’s ruling on this subject is awaited, but whatever may emerge out of it, I see no way that the Modi government will climb down. It will likely rule out third-party mediation or arbitration and say that it is an internal matter.
India’s rhetoric is that not only will it not stop, but also try to claim the Pakistan’s side of Kashmir.
Pakistani rhetoric and demagogy are diametrically opposite. It would not accept sitting down what it describes is the illegal integration of Kashmir into the Indian mainstream. And that every Pakistani stands shoulder to shoulder with their Kashmiri brethren until they get the opportunity to exercise their right of self-determination.
Pakistan has warned India of an all-out war if the former dares to invade the Pakistani Kashmir.
Under the circumstances, the only way to change the status quo is through successful war Pakistan can win against India, but that is next to impossible. A land war will lead to no conclusive result.
A nuclear war will mean the extinction of life on both sides. Roughly some half of the Indian 1.3 billion people can be killed or grievously injured. Nearly the whole of Pakistani 205 million population will be wiped out.
Therefore, from a rational and detached point of view, war is not an option. The International Community has no sympathy for Pakistan. This is something Pakistani Minister Ejaz Shah admitted in a television interview.
The reasons for that are not difficult to grasp: if you acquire the reputation of a rogue state, epicentre of terrorism, ironically with the help of those who disown you later, you have to pay the price. On the other hand, nobody can guarantee that there is no possibility of war given the irresponsible people who are at the helm of affairs on both sides.
However, if India does not cross the Line of Control to enter territories under Pakistani control I see no reason why a war should break out. And unless some major successful terrorist attack takes place in India and its origins can be traced to Pakistan, there should be no reason why India would up the ante and precipitate a war. How long will it take before we reach that point of realisation on both sides? I can only hope: the sooner the better.
The writer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; Visiting Professor Government College University; and, Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He has written a number of books and won many awards, he can be reached on [email protected]