War Clouds Looming on South Asian Skies

Published on – February 27, 2019 – 3:04 am
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War hysteria seems to be looming over the region, where the two arch nuclear rivals Pakistan and India are located. The two rivals have been at the loggerheads for several decades over Kashmir and terrorism. War hysteria has created alarming bells to the world leaders across the board, to come forward to defuse and deescalate verbal standstill between Pakistan and India, if prolonged, can trigger to an uncontrollable scenario for the world. America and China have urged both of them to remain restraint, at the same time, back door diplomacy is in place to avoid ratcheting up the tensions. As usual, the hawkish Indian government blamed Pakistan for the Pulwama attacks without any evidence and investigation. As a matter of fact, Pakistan has boldly rejected the baseless and senseless allegations of its involvement in the Pulwama attack of February 14, 2019.


War hysteria seems to be looming over the region, where the two arch nuclear rivals Pakistan and India are located. The two rivals have been at the loggerheads for several decades over Kashmir and terrorism. War hysteria has created alarming bells to the world leaders across the board, to come forward to defuse and deescalate verbal standstill between Pakistan and India, if prolonged, can trigger to an uncontrollable scenario for the world. America and China have urged both of them to remain restraint, at the same time, back door diplomacy is in place to avoid ratcheting up the tensions. As usual, the hawkish Indian government blamed Pakistan for the Pulwama attacks without any evidence and investigation. As a matter of fact, Pakistan has boldly rejected the baseless and senseless allegations of its involvement in the Pulwama attack of February 14, 2019.

The Pulwama attack in which more than 40 Indian paramilitary troops were killed by a young Kashmirs, Adil Ahmad Dar, who had been badly traumatized by Indian forces should not come as a surprise. Over the last seven decades, the Indian occupied forces have used brute forces to discourage the self-indigenous struggle for self-determination. Concurrently, Indian abysmal failure is not just due to the resilience of the Kashmirs freedom fighters but also due to the inhumane atrocities being committed by the brutal and occupied forces, which as a result led to the stronger resolve of Kashmirs cause. In spite of the hefty presence of more than700,000 Indian troops armed with draconian powers, nearly 90,000 casualties, use of indiscriminate killings, torture, rape, illegal detentions, and disappearances as instruments of policy, India has failed to intimidate the brave and resilient Kashmirs.

It is imperative for India to talk to the people of IOK because without first politically conceding their demands, New Delhi is not likely to bring to an end the ongoing violence in the valley. IOK is not an integral part of India if one were to study the Indian Constitution, especially its Article 370 which sets IOK apart from the other states in the Indian Union. This special status of IOK cannot be amended unless the occupied Kashmir’s assembly passes a resolution to the effect. So far no government in New Delhi has succeeded in getting enough votes in the state assembly to get the resolution passed. The BJP had almost succeeded as it bagged just about the required number in the last election, but fell short by a few votes. Since then, Prime Minister Modi is trying to change the demography of the valley which has infuriated the Kashmiri youth causing them to opt for suicide bombing.

After leveling baseless allegation on Pakistan, India started threatening to ‘isolate’ Pakistan and, India scrapped the Most Favored Nation status granted to Pakistan and imposed a 200 per cent customs duty on its goods. Military options are being explored.

American support for Indian allegations against Pakistan could make India even more adventurous in its actions. Despite all this Indian bravado, it will have to be cold hard logic that will determine Indian response. ‘Isolating’ Pakistan has already been tried and failed. Withdrawal of the MFN status is meaningless given the low volume of bilateral trade, and in any case Indian non-tariff barriers have already stunted Pakistani exports to India. While sponsoring terrorist attacks is possible, any ‘surgical strike’, like the last one, would be more of a sham.

Heavy artillery or air strikes are also possible. Then there is the much-hyped ‘Cold Start’ type limited military operations option. But the Indians are fully cognizant of Pakistan’s Full Spectrum deterrence doctrine and it remains to be seen whether they will risk testing it. Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS General Qamar Javeed Bajwa have already assured and conveyed them that Pakistan will surely retaliate and thwart to any misadventure by enemies. Significantly, former Indian generals like General DS Hooda, former head of the Northern Command, and in whose tenure the so-called surgical strike was carried out, has suggested caution and hoped for ‘rethinking and reconciliation’ from all sides.

Pakistan has consistently attempted to normalize relations with India, but the latter has not responded positively. The Modi government, when it comes to Pakistan, seems to be under the total clout of the extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang (RSS), whose anti-Pakistan sentiments are well-known. Concurrently, it should not be surprising the hawkish attitude of BJP where they have always used anti Pakistan and anti-Muslim rhetoric for their election campaign, to get political mileage, which is around the corner. Moreover, about 90 percent of the Indian Army’s weapons and command and control structure are Pakistan-specific. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) yearbook 2018, India is the world’s number one major weapons’ importer and its import has been augmented by 24 percent over the last 10 years. This has compelled Pakistan to revise its security calculations according to the new strategic realities of the region. To sum it up, the seeming barriers, which halt the peace process between Pakistan and India, have to be simultaneously addressed by India for the sustainability of the dialogue. This would include no violations of the LOC and WB. SAARC, too, has been a victim of Indian arrogance. India has always used such platforms for its political mileage and making Pakistan a scapegoat of sponsoring terrorism. India must avoid threatening and dogmatic remarks against Pakistan. If the latter persists in its unfriendly propaganda against the former, it will reinforce mutual jingoism and mistrust.

Hence, owing to these aforementioned factors, the only realistic option for India is to seek a sustainable solution to the Kashmir dispute through dialogue with Pakistan and the Kashmirs, as their American allies have learned in Afghanistan, there is no military solution to such problems. Hence, sooner or later, India will have to accept the offer of peace and harmony offered by the Pakistan.

The writer is pursuing his BS degree at Strategic Studies from National Defence University, Islamabad. He could be reached at sangeenk786@gmail.com