Predicting a fourth Pakistan-India war

Columnist HUMERA NIAZI looks a possible fourth major conflict in the region.

A recent report conveyed that a statement emanating from Washington suggested the possibility of a fourth war between Pakistan and India. This analysis which tends to predict, came from none other than, George Tenet, Director C.I.A. What is quite clear that this knowledge is really not breaking news. It raises an important question, that why is there a visible absence of a role by the US to act to remove such as a possibility, or the moving closer towards such a situation (even if a war does not break out). The super-power country itself admits that it is aware of a very dangerous situation and also expresses its ‘concern’ then why is there no action to prevent it. There is responsibility and not just concern the US speaks of, for this part of South Asia when two nuclear strong nations get closer to a war, therefore, importantly again it is the message which should be able to be read, within context to this stated ‘US concern’. It is time that an effort should be made to make the US and those important role players, act with a responsibility to ensure in a positive aspect, a peaceful atmosphere for Pakistan and India. This would have to mean:-

(i)         India should de-escalate its massive troops build on the border and L.O.C.

(ii)       A realistic approach to find the just solution to Indian held Kashmir.  

The reality of a nuclear flashpoint. 

Just merely predicting a war, in wraps of concern and non-activity (as a world’s Policeman) does not help in changing the existing ground realities positively or averting in a just manner, the extreme dangers of war which cannot even afford being conventional because of the reality of the well-known nuclear equation. Therefore, a conventional posturing, would certainly mean a step close to getting ‘nuclear’. This dispels the notion of those who want to define war in order to achieve their own interests. This is because there is no definition for war, as it is associated with moving events, which influence it, as such it cannot go by ground-rules imposed by one side. It appears that if the existence of one side is threatened, there could be a reaction which could take a war to a dangerous limit. So this undermines the wisdom of ‘a limited war’ aura, being floated by the Indian side. 

The US and the west have done little in easing the four-month long tension, created by India, when it has an extensive troops build up, on the border and L.O.C with neighbouring Pakistan. With such a backdrop and India not being pursued to de-escalate, Mr. Tenet has stated “If India were to conduct large scale offensive operations in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan might retaliate, with strikes of its own in the belief that nuclear deterrent might limit the scope of the counter attack”. “We are deeply concerned, however, that a conventional war once begun could escalate into nuclear confrontation”.

In a certain sense, the statement, does seem to be establishing a nexus between the present situation as it stands (i.e. India and Pakistan have amassed some 800,000 troops at their common borders) and the conflict in Kashmir, further mentioning the nuclear characteristic and the expression of concern, should logically mean, there is a lot of work to be done (positively) in this area. Since with massive troop deployment on the border and the flash point flashing unattended, it does not augur well. In a situation like this who could guarantee that miscalculating could not take place. And a miscalculation could also be a conventional war as Mr. Tenet perceives. It was reportedly on April 2, that President General Musharraf expressed to an Indian  newspaper, while referring to the present situation, between both countries as “extremely explosive”. Further in the wide-ranging interview, the President did mention talk and friendship, but he did speak from a position of strength, making things quite clear. He mentioned Indians false claim of terrorism. Speaking on the face of an accusation of cross-border terrorism, he suggested a call for the deployment of a UN force to determine that India was falsely claiming the so-called cross-border terrorism.

But the position as it stands, is that India has not responded to create a peaceful atmosphere or de-escalate. This can be seen in the Indian defence minister’s statement (after President General Musharraf’s interview). Fernandes while touring the disputed borders with Pakistan. (which new Delhi insists must be fully sealed from freedom fighters before it eases a military build-up) stated “India will not withdraw troops from its border because Pakistan intentions are not sincere. It continues to sponsor terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir”.

India is trying to create a 12/13 scenario: The immense troops build-up draws international attention the US on April 11 has said that both countries should talk, (describing the dangers of it.) India’s attempt to play the ‘list of twenty’ card is extremely unsubstantive. Pakistan has made it quite clear that no one from Pakistan would be handed over to India. It is that India attempts to lay a trap, with a negative use of semantics, when it speaks of, cross-border terrorism. There is no border but L.O.C (Kashmir). There is a freedom movement in Held-Kashmir, which India wants to brush under the carpet, while buying time to create a false spectre of terrorism. Further is the implementation of a controversial draconian law P.O.T.A, concerning Kashmir. It finds India playing dangerously, when it prepares for farcical state elections (later this year) in Kashmir. It is going by a nuclear equation, in context to Pakistan and India, that puts forth the idea. That nuclear conflict is unconceivable, and something which is not to happen, therefore making it not possible to sum up things, because it has never taken place. So the ability of any side is an inexperienced issue. Therefore, best stated that ‘nuclear weapons are deterrence and their use is something which should even be considered’. In conformity with this premise it makes an analysis of nuclear capabilities of a lesser aspect.

The US and the west should have positive concern for any conflict between Pakistan and India, as strategic analysts are of the opinion that it has the out of control characteristic. it is to quote a report by the Wall Street Journal, Pakistan has rejected Indian pleas for a ‘no first use’ pledge, countering it with demands that India make a no war pledge Pakistan is understood to reserve the right to use nuclear weapons, if the country’s survival is threatened, whether by conventional or nuclear attack. The trigger would probably come if Indian troops reached Pakistan’s heartland, Pakistani strategists say, but just where the heartland is, nobody is saying. “Deterrence lies in ambiguity”. In light of this, the US and the international community should have a proactive role for ensuring peace in this region.