Indo-Pak: Knotty Neighborhood
India and Pakistan are at each other’s throat again. Some may rightly argue back, when they were not? The never-ending tension between the two warring neighbours—in every sense both the countries, act and behave plainly as inveterate enemies, never missing a chance to hit other back—presently seems to be escalating into a fresh round of conflict. Amidst the renewed hostilities, the decade old ceasefire between the two countries virtually lay in tatters. In fact, two armies — pumped with not valour, if any, but with perennial hate for each other– of nuclear armed neighbours are standing in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation. In a most combustible situation, even a small spark can lead to a series of unforeseen destruction. If it is not a recipe for a worst disaster than what else could be?
Nawaz Sharif has once again drawn a reference to Kashmir dispute as a potential nuclear flashpoint. India tends to rejects the flashpoint analogy as a false alarm; a deliberate tactic to scare the international community to draw attention towards the Kashmir dispute. Irrespective of India’s off hand rejection of nuclear flashpoint theory, this entire region is virtually sitting on a powder-keg. India accuses Pakistan of lowering the nuclear threshold. With growing disparity in its conventional capabilities, Pakistan more and more now seems to rely on its unconventional weapons, read nuclear, to defend its territorial integrity. Since guns are booming, how is it possible to fully overrule the likelihood of an ugly skirmish not turning into a limited war? Indian army after overrunning Pakistani defences and capturing 10-20 km of Pakistani territory, and deeply rattled Pakistan using a miniaturised tactical nuclear missile eventually, is an immensely scary but a possible scenario. In routine military exercises, Indian and Pakistani armies are now reportedly practising these deadly scenarios. With such [horrible] calculations becoming part of war doctrines, how can one discount the real fears as undue alarmist attitude? And is it possible to fully reject the possibility of another Mumbai style terrorist attack? A desperate act of dozen odd terrorists can even lead to a nuclear holocaust. Someone from strategic community in India with an inflated ego, however, may haughtily reject the above discussed scenarios as a nuclear blackmail.
People of Jammu and Kashmir innately and wholeheartedly disdain war. For a common man here every minute of last two decades of bloody turmoil has been a moment of frightful apprehension. In a bloody protracted conflict, indeed people of Kashmir, the real victims of conflict, can only appreciate the value of peace. War never has been an option here. Yet there seems to be no space available for peace to be a choice. Kashmiris living across the Line of Control, are again being made to face the brunt of the situation. Even after enduring more than two-decade long turmoil, a dark prospect of renewed violence once gain is staring at us.
New Delhi only believes in a zero-sum game. It’s still not prepared to seek a win-win situation wherein all the three – India, Pakistan and Kashmir – could strive for an amicable situation.
But in case peace has to prevail, healthy survival of Pakistan is but necessary. For an emotionally surcharged Indian citizen, the prognosis may sound invidious that without the active participation of Pakistan Kashmir dispute can never be resolved. The war mongering hysterical Indian media has been ever busy in predicting a doomsday scenario that Pakistan is soon to disappear from the face of earth. The revelation that Pakistan is going to stay may further infuriate the gullible but an ill-informed Indian citizen. For good or bad, Pakistan may not wither-away at all; rather it may emerge as a formidable challenge to India. That’s the reason why solely out of deep longing for peace, a common Kashmiri wishes India and Pakistan to coexist in peace.
New Delhi, however, due to its inability to resolve the Kashmir problem completely seems to be averse to the idea of peace. (Owing to space constrains it’s not possible here to deliberate how it has always failed to invest in peace.) That’s the reason why nuclear flashpoint threat continues to haunt the sub-continent. New Delhi has always misconstrued that Kashmir problem is an extension of Pakistan. Consequently, under a false hope that dire existential threats Pakistan was faced with, particularly after 9/11, will permanently render it ineffective, even if it is able to avoid another dismemberment, to vigorously purse the Kashmir issue. False hopes didn’t materialise, Pakistan providentially is able to survive the worst possible threats to its existence. Hence, the renewed conflict on Kashmir. New Delhi needs to deeply introspect; whether it has missed a God-send opportunity to forge a sustainable peace in the region.