On the Verge of War

On the Verge of War

By: Asad Hussain

Sanity is the first victim in India-Pakistan Standoff

Amidst intense warmongering from the Indian side, the ongoing dangerous standoff between the two hostile nuclear neighbours, Pakistan and India, may lead the world to an unimaginable catastrophe. In order to ascertain as to how we reached here, it is quintessential to understand the background to this critical juncture. Both India and Pakistan parted and emerged as independent countries in 1947 on the basis of distinct ideologies despite living hundreds of years together. The Hindu-Muslim divide had created hostility and animosity among the two peoples that refused to die down even after the partition. War hysteria kept both countries engulfed, and several wars have been fought between them just to prove superiority over each other or to gain certain political or geographical gains.

ndia, of late, is flexing its military and economic muscles to become a regional power or even a hegemon in South Asia. India’s growing ties with the United States and its frequent bids to become a member of the prestigious Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) are clear indications that India wants to increase its clout in this part of the world. Not only this, India-orchestrated reign of terror in Kashmir, its flurry of deals with other states for enhancing its nuclear arsenal and its hybrid warfare on Pakistan would seriously disturb strategic balance in South Asia.

In the current scenario, the extremist and warmongering government in New Delhi, spearheaded by Narendra Modi, is wreaking havoc on regional peace and stability just for the sake of some petty political gains. Since elections in India are fast approaching, therefore, to divert public attention from internal problems to external dangers, Modi is plying this stunt to solidify its power base in upcoming polls. For this, India has vehemently labelled Pakistan as a state that sponsors terrorist activities on former’s soil and aroused anti-Pakistan sentiments in the Indian populace.

More recently, on 14 February 2019, India raised a huge outcry for Pakistan’s alleged role in Pulwama suicide attack in the Indian-occupied Kashmir where more than 40 Indian military personnel perished. For this, New Delhi has adopted a harsh and hellish rhetoric towards Pakistan and moaned that Jaish-e-Mohammad (JuM) of Maulana Masood Azhar orchestrated this gruesome attack under the supervision of Pakistan. These are all false and baseless accusations having no solid justification. Modi has adopted this strategy of brinksmanship to achieve his nefarious political agenda.

As a next step in Modi’s escalation policy, 12 Indian fighter jets took flights over the Line of Control (LoC) on 26 February 2019. According to Indian media as well as the official statements, the jets undertook strike on Balakot where they “targeted a training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) group.” Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told a news conference that the strikes had killed a “large number” of militants, including Jaish commanders. However, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) issued a presser that Indian jets intruded only 3-4 kilometres inside Pakistani territory and changed their course back to India after dropping their payloads when our jets chased them. These incidents have brought Pakistan and India on the verge of a nuclear war.

At this critical juncture, both the states need to understand the regional dynamics and calculate the aftermath of the war. Pakistan is behaving maturely and asking for peace. Imran Khan’s recent offer to India to conduct investigations for Pulwama attack, if credible evidence is provided, is a wise step on the part of Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistan has reiterated time and again that Pakistan is a peace-loving state and believes in mutual interests, trade links and bilateral relations. If these concerns are not fulfilled by India, Pakistan has the will as well as the capacity to respond befittingly to any aggression.

According to Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson, Pakistan’s armed forces are always ready to take any decisive actions to repulse any Indian attack. And, by shooting down a MiG 21 of Indian Air Force and capturing its pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, Pakistan has proved its mettle and strength. So, India should have a through overview of political and strategic calculus of South Asia and should accept the olive branch offered by Pakistan for peaceful mutual existence. Pakistan desires peace and stability in the region. India must also take its hands off its anti-Pakistan tirade so as to eliminate the chances of war in an already volatile region.

The United Nations and international powers, especially United States, should play their positive role for de-escalation and settlement of disputes between the two regional competitors. The US must bring about a rapprochement between India and Pakistan by pressing for the resolution of longstanding Kashmir dispute and water issues. Along with this, the toothless paper tiger – United Nations – should also take India to task for human rights violations in Indian-held Kashmir and force it to resolve the Kashmir dispute as per the resolution of the UN General Assembly and Security Council. Sans US and UN involvement, Pakistan and India would continue keeping the world reeling under the prospects of a full-scale nuclear war.

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