Fragile, handle with care

Of peace, war and the thin line that separates the two



IT seems to be déjà vu. India and Pakistan are again doing what they are typically infamous for; slitting each other’s throats.  Amidst the huge ear shattering noise of so called Aman Ki Asha, horribly it took just a single incident of beheading of a soldier--- a reprehensible act--- to drown all the shallow talk of peace in the deep sea of despair and entrenched enmity. It’s entirely immaterial that who cast the first stone? The centuries old enmity that has further exacerbated as deep abhorrence for each other hardly needs any provocation to initiate fresh hostilities.  Two armies of ever-hostile neighbours, standing eyeball to eyeball on the LoC are not trained to kill each other only; to great disappointment the two fanatical foes seem to be destined to perish in a war. 
Even mention of a word war between two nuclear armed neighbours--- a terrifying thought--- is enough to send shivers down the spine.  Normally it is believed that nuclear weapons act as deterrence against military misadventures. However in case there is any likelihood of atom bombs presently being used in a war it only seems to be between India and Pakistan.  The so called one thousand year old clash between the two Nations climaxed with the partition of the Indian Sub-continent in 1947. Since two religious ideologies failed to co-exist, the partition was perceived as a last solution to an ever-raging conflict.  Partition was arrived at a horrific cost causing an immeasurable pain to the humanity, yet it still failed rather badly to bring a sustainable peace to the sub-continent. How many wars have been fought since 1947 in the Indian sub-continent? In case all the high intensity conflicts, so called proxy wars and limited wars are to be fully tabulated, literally it will be a difficult task to exactly figure-out a precise number on the chart. Partition was carried out to resolve a conflict; instead many more new conflicts have since appeared on the horizon. At the time of partition apart from others states Junagarh and Hyderabad to mention few, Pakistan primarily opposed Indian control on Kashmir and since then has launched many military operations, to buttress its claim. Even after failing each and every time to realize its goals that too after incurring immense loses, it still is not ready to forgo its claim.
India encouraged freedom movement in erstwhile East Pakistan. At the time of real reckoning its military decisively moved in, hence Bangladesh today effectively exists on the international map. Moreover, Pakistan has always suspected Indian hand behind the full blown insurgency in restive Balochistan. Pakistan even blames India for many other violent disturbances taking place from time to time within its territory. Conversely India also alleges that Pakistan is ever ready to fish in the troubled waters inside India; whenever and wherever it gets a chance. North East, Khalistan movement and presently Maoist insurgency are among the numerous instances routinely cited by the Indian strategic community.  To sum up, India and Pakistan are always readily set at each other’s throat baying for the blood, where is the hope for any peace?    
Overwhelming majority in Kashmir regards their struggle as a genuine rights movement. Obviously it becomes frustrating for a common Kashmiri to discover that the conflict in and on Kashmir is being presented as a territorial dispute, by both India and Pakistan. In an unavoidable situation, mighty states finds themselves locked-in and off and on are busy in a military conflict. In such a hopeless situation, who dam cares for the real aspirations of a people? After failing to resolve the conflict militarily, during the last one decade and a half, India and Pakistan embarked on a composite dialogue process to settle their long pending disputes.  But such is the depth of their mistrust that smaller disputes like Siachen, Sir Creek and water issues, earlier considered to be low-hanging fruits ready to be plucked anytime, have now turned out to be irresolvable conflicts.  India and Pakistan are incapable of avoiding the death-trap of Siachen glacier, can they resolve Kashmir?
Presently India is an economic power and in the preceding decade India has gained a decisive edge over Pakistan in conventional warfare.  Lately Pakistan’s economy has substantially declined, to an alarming level. There is real risk that besieged with plethora of problems Pakistan’s economy may collapse anytime. India’s present strategy seems to be based upon a faulty analogy that a weak Pakistan is hardly a threat for India. A highly destabilised but nuclear Pakistan dominated by extremist ideologies will be short of confidence, unable to match India in conventional warfare it may exercise the nuclear option at the very first moment of its crisis against India. It’s a very scary scenario; a highly destabilized Pakistan is sure recipe towards making of a nuclear disaster.
However in case Pakistan is able to wriggle out of the present mess, it may emerge as a much stronger nation. Such is the nature of relationship between India and Pakistan; a stable Pakistan will continue to pursue its core strategic interests.  Unless India and Pakistan are able to resolve their long pending disputes obviously including that of Kashmir, there is no other way available to both to avoid a nuclear holocaust.  But can they shed their historic baggage? An answer to this question either way will make a difference between an impending nuclear war and aspirations for a peaceful coexistence blossoming into a reality.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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