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Deterrence Stability in South Asia

Adeela Ahmed

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Herman Kahn is a renowned theorist of Deterrence. Other strategic scholars like Andre Beaufre, Phil Williams, Kenneth Waltz, Bernard Brodie, J.M.Collins, and Thomas Schelling also contributed towards deterrence. According to them peace and security can be promoted by adopting deterrence strategy and what is significant about the usage of nuclear weapons is not “overkill” but “mutual kill.”  Deterrence has a crucial role in the maintenance of international order. Phil Williams defined it, as an attempt to frighten the adversary into inaction. The power of nuclear weapons is not to wage war but to create alternatives less catastrophic than the nuclear holocaust. Deterrence exists in mind and is a pre-war situation. The balance exists when the war would not occur and stability would be preserved.

In the South Asian context, there are longstanding territorial disputes, cultural and religious clashes between India and Pakistan. This relation suffers from deep mistrust and long hostility. After the 1965 war, there was some fragmented thought in Pakistan about developing a nuclear capability to redress the conventional imbalance, but no serious attention was given to “going nuclear.” It was the 1974 “peaceful nuclear explosion” by India that motivated Pakistan to undertake the creation of a nuclear deterrence. The decision to develop a nuclear capability was to respond to a looming nuclear threat from India. The nuclear program was created through a philosophy of “beg, borrow, or steal” and propelled by the resolve to defend the nation of Pakistan from a serious external threat. While Pakistan’s nuclear program was progressing through the various phases of development, no thought was given to the operational management of this new capability, nor was a nuclear doctrine considered seriously.

In the 1980’s, the concept of deterrence was developed by South Asian strategic elites when they were facing the escalation in their relations under ‘Brasstacks Crises-1986/87’. This time the tools of deterrence were also used under the ambiguous nuclear policy of Pakistan to deter Indian aggression against them. Indian nuclear capability was known as they did their first nuclear device test in 1974 but Pakistan’s nuclear capability was still not known. Mr. Mushahid Hussain Syed through an interview of Dr. A. Q. Khan revealed ambiguity of nuclear presence, which twisted the situation in favor of Pakistan at that time.

To restore strategic balance in South Asia Pakistan was obliged to respond to Indian blasts. Pakistan nuclear tests were taken as self-defence. By establishing mutual deterrence, they have served the interests of peace and security in South Asia. The nuclear ambiguity was swept away by the nuclearization of India and Pakistan. Since May 1998 the South Asian strategic and security environment is completely visible in terms of nuclear threats from both sides. Subsequently serious attention was focused on the conflict-prone region. Definitely the proponents of nuclear deterrence are mindful of the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons, if it will use in Indo-Pak scenario. The leadership of both nuclear states realized the implications of going nuclear. The intellectual and scholarly exertion began with the objective of bringing stability in the perpetually unstable political-military environment of South Asia. Will nuclearization /deterrence in South Asia contributed to peace and stability?

The Lahore Summit between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan in February 1999 raised new hopes of good relation but it turned to be short-lived affair due to Kargil crisis. In May 1999, almost a year after the nuclear tests and at the heels of the Lahore Summit, a serious outbreak of hostility occurred across the Line of Control (LOC) near Kargil, a village in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Following the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, the U.S. sent troops to Afghanistan to engage the perpetrators of the attack. Pakistan supported the U.S. fight against terrorism and the allied operations in Afghanistan. Pakistan, because of its geographic location, became central to operations in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the negative bilateral agenda between India and Pakistan overshadowed their alliance with the U.S. India blamed Pakistan for sponsoring a terrorist attack on its Parliament in December 2001/02, a charge Pakistan strongly denied.

The induction of nuclear weapons into the national defense structures of Pakistan and India in 1998 has brought an era of dynamics of nuclear politics. A full-scale war was only narrowly avoided in 1999 and 2001/02. To control the escalation in any war scenario, the future is always unpredictable when nuclear deterrence is serving as a final card of war strategy. Now the question arises whether the deterrence worked during the aforesaid crisis, stabilized the situation and prevents the use of nuclear weapons into the fields? Many scholars opined that the Kargil Crisis did not escalate into full-scale war because of the effectiveness of the nuclear deterrence. There is the possibility of a nuclear war between rivalries by miscalculation or by misperception. But the stability of deterrence controls the conflict escalated towards war.

On the other hand, the growing Indo-US ties and induction Indian missile defence is being viewed as alarming in Pakistan that could affect the Indo-Pakistan Strategic Stability. Islamabad is apprehensive about the label “strategic” being attached to Washington’s dialogue with New Delhi. Pakistan has always remained a trusted “ally” of the USA and always hoped that the latter would help Pakistan in retaining strategic relevance vis-à-vis India in the region. Pakistan is apprehensive that the USA has undermined Pakistan security concerns by allowing India to be the policeman in South Asia. It is likely to generate fears in Pakistan about American abandonment. Pakistan’s ties with China and Russia have proved to be enduring and if Indo-US relations move forward, Pakistan and Beijing may move even closer.

The best way to ensure peace, security and stability is to resolve the causes of conflict between nuclear arms states. The factors which could possibly challenge the deterrence stability are in need to explore. Some measures if adhered to, then there would be more chances for deterrence stability to prevail. These are risk reduction measures, strategic restraint regime and arms control measures. Decision makers in Islamabad and New Delhi should work out on ‘restraint regime’ wherein nuclear weapons are used as tools of war prevention and war deterrence. Should we add more nuclear CBMs to strengthen the deterrence stability? Bilateral action by India and Pakistan must be adopted to improve the nuclear environment in South Asia.

Independent Researcher/ Freelance Columnist Area of Interest: Defence and Security Issues MPhil from Quaid e Azam University Islamabad in Defence and Strategic Studies, Master from Bahhahudin zakaria University Multan in International Relations

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South Asia

Abrogation of Article 370 and Pakistan’s Pathetic Response

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Pakistan, which is a party to Kashmir dispute could not make significant move after the Indian decision to scrap Article 370. The fragile economy, conventional military asymmetry and limited influence in international community restrict the options for Pakistan to take any strong stance against Indian illegal decision.

A month ago the government of BJP illegally dissolved the special status of Jammu and Kashmir through demolishing the Article 370. The article provides immunity to Jammu and Kashmir from Indian laws except foreign affairs, finance and communications. The decision is profoundly rejected by masses of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan. In the mean time the opposition parties in India also expressed strong dissatisfaction against decision and predicted severe repercussions for Indian state. The decision has also been challenged in the Indian Supreme Court and hearing has already been started. Yet, since the 5th August Kashmir is under siege, curfew has been imposed, communication network, medical and health facilities have been blocked. The international human rights organizations and defenders issued a genocide warning and warned India not to commit genocide.

In this critical situation which is developed by India, Pakistan took stance to stand by Kashmir. Pakistan highlighted the violent action which engulfed the rights and lives of Kashmiri people’s. Although Pakistan expressed strong resistance and proclaimed to use all the means to give Kashmiri’s their right, but there is a huge difference in words and deeds. On behest of Pakistan, China called UN Security Council meeting to discuss the issue and Chinese ambassador strongly condemned the Indian action and urged both parties to resolve the dispute through peaceful means. Yet it is important to point out that permanent members of UNSC refused to issue a post meeting joint   statement.

Here it is wise to highlight that the international politics is dominated by the self-interests of dominant powers and weak states have no say in the system. Pakistan could not compete with Indian power in international relations. After scrapping the article, India immediately sought foreign support and Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to different states. Modi visited France, Bahrain and UAE, while Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan only made phone calls to seek support against Indian action. This clearly disclosed the inefficiency of Pakistan to counter the Indian narrative.

Indian economic and investment potential is another factor behind cool response of international powers. India is trading partner of many countries and most prominent among them are USA, UK, UAE, China, European Union and Australia. The US has invested 9 million in India during the 2016 and UK has signed the commercial deals of 9.3 million recently. Australia is benefitted from Indian students and its education export is 2 billion dollars. EU a group of 27 independent states is another major investor and trade partner of India with 2.5 % international shares.

In contemporary international politics, diaspora is a backbone of any nation and same is true for India. It is observed that Indians are residing almost every influential state. More than 3.5 million Indians are working in UAE. During the 2015, Indian share was 16% in expats residing in the US, and Saudi Arabia host 1.9 million Indians. Kuwait having 1 million Indian workers and Oman 777,632 Indians. Europe also host the 1.2 million Indians.

The bilateral trade of India with US, China, EU, Japan, and Australia is impressive. In 2019, bilateral trade of India-China crossed the 100 billion, which expects to grow further. The US is second largest trading partner of India in goods, and the single largest export destination of Indian exporters. The bilateral trade has been grew at 7.59% annually from 68.4 billion in 2008 to 142.1 billion in 2018.

The 8.8 million Pakistanis are residing in western states, 4.7 million are living in EU and 1.2 in U.K. But Pakistan failed to activate its diaspora to promote national interests of the state. The Pakistani leadership never paid serious attention to engage diaspora, which resulted in poor representation of Pakistan in international community. On the other hand, Indian diaspora is much influential and have strong say in policies of US and EU. Their skills and education help them to climb the ladder of success and influence. So, it is high time for Pakistan to devise an effective strategy to lobby the national interests and engage diaspora. The diaspora is considered the defense line as they bridge the gap between their parent and host state. 

Pakistan’s economic structure is fragile with rising debt and prices of commodities. The country is dependent on international monitory institutions to repay its debt which crossed over 100 billion dollars. It is on 150thposition in poverty index among 189 countries according to UN Human Development Indicators. The value of rupee is decreased to lowest level and government is losing its credibility. Pakistan is spending its 20% budget on Army which is higher than education, health and social development allocation. The fragile economy, poor coordination in policy making and influence of military in foreign policy making has reduced the role of other state institutions. Although, current civilian government claims that civilian and military leadership is on same page, but the poor and ill-coordinated response exposed the fault lines. The top hierarchy of civilian and political leadership did not bother itself to convey Pakistani position on Kashmir, except making statements.

If Pakistan really want to influence the international community, then it needs to fix its poor economy, to improve its human and social system, engage diaspora, make effective and inclusive foreign and security policy. The economic, political and military power can guarantee the national interests of the country. So Pakistan work tirelessly on all the fronts to achieve the status of major power.

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Pakistan’s peace-loving gestures are considered its weakness, unfortunately

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Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and a responsible state. The leadership, civil and military. Both are visionary and rational very much. Pakistan was the hub of western tourists in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, due to its natural beauty, friendly and hospitable environment, and affordable living. Economic growth was one of the highest in this part of the world. But suffered a lot since the 1980s, due to the situation in Afghanistan. It was not our war, but unfortunately, we were pushed into this war. As a result, Pakistan offered 80,000 precious lives of Pakistani nationals, an economic loss of estimated up to 250 billion US dollars. In addition to it, extremism, terrorism, trafficking, smuggling, ethnicity, intolerance, gun, and drug culture, etc. were a gift. Due to the war-like situations during the last 4 decades, nations spared all resources, including human resources, financial resources etc on imposed war-front. As a result, industrial agriculture, infrastructure development, education, SW&T, R&D, Innovation, Commercialization, Health Sector, etc all walks of life suffered a lot and as result, today facing the worst economic crisis with over 100 billion foreign debt.

But, after having so many bitter lessons, the nation is even more mature and trained to survive under any circumstances. In fact, has emerged one of the most resilient nation. India staged the drama of “Pulwan” on 14 February this year, and without collecting evidence and investigation, just within hours, blamed Pakistan and threatened Pakistan. Pakistan offered to extend full cooperation in investigation and punish the responsible. But, India, according to pre-plan, attacked Pakistan on the 25th of February and dropped bombs in Balakot a city deep inside Pakistan. The leadership of Pakistan is very much sensible and rational and noticed that India is pushing Pakistan into full-scale war. The visionary leadership in Pakistan realized the consequences of war, especially when, both India and Pakistan, both are nuclear states, possessing enough piles of lethal weapons to destroy each other completely, and its impact on the region as well as global. Formulated a smart strategy to respond on the 27th of February, giving a message to India, that although Pakistan has capabilities and enjoys supremacy over India, it still sticks to “Love-For-Peace” and does not wish to opt for war, successfully averted to escalate to a full-fledged war. Even that, Pakistan released the captured pilot of Indian air force inside Pakistan territory, as a good-will gesture.

India revoked its own constitution on the 5th of August and imposed curfew in Kashmir. It is an act of war and violation of UN charter, Simla Agreement and all norms & practices of civilized world. Siege of Kashmir, complete black-out by suspending Internet, mobile phone services. Cutting all modes of communication, evacuating all foreigners and visitors from Kashmir. Keeping people under house arrest. Occupying forces are killing, arresting, detaining and raping on a mass scale and draconian laws imposed empowered the security forces to shot at a spot on suspicion only, with any judicial process. After 42 days of curfew, people are facing a severe shortage of food, fuel, electricity, medicines, and life is completely at a halt, stand-still status. It is the largest curfew in the known-history of human beings, as around 8 million people are under siege, and Kashmir has been turned into a big jail, people are treated as prisoners. India’s atrocities and brutalities have crossed all records of human rights violations.

UN, Human Rights Organizations, Mainstream Media, International organizations, NGOs, the whole International community have shown deep concerns on Indian atrocities. Protests, agitations, rallies, and demonstrations, all around the world as solidarity with the people of Kashmir have been witnessed. European Parliaments, UNSC, OIC, SCO, and all other international organizations are worried about the deteriorated situation of humanity in Kashmir.

Kashmir is a dispute between China, Pakistan, and India. India has illegally occupied a part of Kashmir known as Indian Occupied Kashmir. But people of Kashmir are spread all over three parts, i.e in Pakistan known as Azad or Free Kashmir and China. Kashmir is one nation and having blood relations in all three parts. They are charged at peak to enter into India Occupied Kashmir and help their brothers and sister in Indian Occupied Kashmir. They wanted to provide them food, medicines and basic necessities of life. The government of Pakistan is trying its best to stop them to march toward Indian Occupied Kashmir, as they are unarmed and simple villagers, they might have the high spirits to rescue the lives of their brothers and sisters in Indian Kashmir but might face firing by Indian Army. I am afraid, the public pressure is growing with passing each day and they might march toward Indian Occupied Kashmir, and Pakistani Security Forces may not be able to stop them, then they might come under the Indian forces firing range. It might complicate the situation. The government of Pakistan is committed to observing restrains and avert any war, with India, but if its civilians are killed, it may create an unexpected situation, difficult to predict the reaction.

On the other hand, Indian military deployment along the line of control and frequent violations of line of control, use of cluster bombs on civilian population inside Pakistan, and war-preparations are alarming. Indian Army Chief announced that The Indian Army is well prepared to Attack Pakistan and just waiting for a signal from its Government in Delhi.

Pakistan is trying its best to observe restrains and showing maximum tolerance and patience. But India considers Pakistan “Love-For-Peace” as its “weakness”, Unfortunate! Very Unfortunate!

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Webinar: Kashmir Outside the Crosshairs- Does Anyone Care about Kashmir?

MD Staff

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Join Modern Diplomacy and our Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Matthew Crosston, for a Live Intelligence briefing / Webinar, on Sunday September 29 at 18:30 (IST) to learn:

* Why does the US continue to ignore Kashmir but give loads of attention to every country around it?

* Is it necessarily a positive if the US DOES start paying attention to it? 

* What would be GOOD attention and what be BAD? Which one is the US likely to give?

* Can Kashmir ever be left alone to develop independently and not be a pawn of regional neighbors?

These and other controversial but critically important questions will be covered in an exciting intelligence briefing that will still allow for a dynamic, open discussion exchange with one the world’s most recognized, accomplished and sought after Intelligence experts, Dr. Prof. Matthew Crosston, Executive Vice Chairman of Modern Diplomacy.

Reserve your seat here

Dr. Matthew Crosston is Director over all Intelligence programs and Professor of Strategic Intelligence and Global Security in the School of Security and Global Studies at the American Military University. He is an acclaimed author and international speaker who consults with governments, media organizations, and academic institutions on a range of issues covering peace mediation, human rights conflicts, resource dilemmas, intelligence, change leadership, and education innovation. His works overall have been translated into Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, Hebrew, Spanish, Turkish, Farsi, Greek, and Uzbek. He has a BA from Colgate University, MA from the University of London, PhD from Brown University, and completed his Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Toronto.

Modern Diplomacy and Center for International Strategic Analyses

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