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Averting nuclear brew via ‘dialogue on Kashmir’

IF we juxtapose Modi’s current foreign policy features
with the past Indian foreign policy legacy, we
naturally note that never before now, the India foreign policy under BJP’s leadership has shown such intense propensity of antagonism as is being reflected by premier Narendra Modi’s current policy narrative towards Pakistan by ignoring the harrowing risk of nuclear escalation between the two states. The world is denying India’s claim over Kashmir. Obviously Modi’s post-truth politics ingrained in his denial policy over Kashmir is drastically failed and global voices are echoing over the alarming Indo-Pak situation vis-à-vis Kashmir—endorsed by New York Times’ thought-provoking editorial: This Is Where a Nuclear Exchange Is ‘Most Likely’ (March 08).
Wise caution has been delivered by the New York Times: ‘’But this relative calm is not a solution. As long as India and Pakistan refuse to deal with their core dispute — the future of Kashmir — they face unpredictable, possibly terrifying, consequences’’. The situation could have easily escalated, given that the two countries have fought three wars over 70 years, maintain a near-constant state of military readiness along their border and have little formal government-to-government dialogue. ‘’…’The next confrontation might not end so calmly’’.
Of the major areas of global tension— arguably the most perilous is that between India and Pakistan. And this insight is correctly witnessed by the ongoing events in Kashmir that have precipitated the situation even more dangerous. The reason is obvious: India and Pakistan are in a long-running and incendiary dispute glaringly intensified by the ongoing Kashmiri freedom movement, they are both nuclear potentials, and crossing a confrontational threshold and without doubt could ignite a nuclear war between them. Therefore, arms control investigators have long identified South Asia as one of the world’s likeliest nuclear flashpoints.
Barry Posen, a Professor of Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who traces three possible causes of nuclear escalation that may be applicable to India and Pakistan. First, conventional attacks could come into direct contact with the adversary’s nuclear forces and threaten the survivability of those forces. Second, conventional attacks could degrade the adversary’s use of nuclear forces in the time, place and method of choosing, forcing major changes in its war-fighting strategy, especially if there is a loss of control in the strategic command and control infrastructure. Third, a conventional attack could be mistaken as a pre-emptive strike to destroy or neutralize strategic assets and possibly cause the attacked state to launch its strategic nuclear forces at the first sign of an attack. Any of these scenarios could lead to what Posen calls “inadvertent nuclear escalation.” The Posen nuclear war prognosis cannot be refuted by the military experts in India and Pakistan.
And it has become a global truth that there remains the hovering threat of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan as long as Kashmir issue remains an unresolved agenda. While examining the India’s foreign policy legacy, some Indian scholars have linked pragmatism particularly to periods of BJP leadership. But presently, Modi’s foreign policy doctrine seems to have basically discarded Vajpayee’s notion of substantive pragmatism- reflected in his peace initiative of opening a peace bus service between Azad and Jammu Kashmir in 2004. For the Kashmir Muslims, Modi’s provoked Hindu nationalism has severely affected their thinking about India. In the wake of this ongoing Hindu trajectory in terms of their identity and survival, the rise of Hindutva has, consequently, accelerated the pace of Kashmiri freedom.
Clearly, the Modi government’s policy towards Kashmiris is based on cultural, political and territorial exclusivism evidenced by enforced Kashmiri migration from the Vale. Today Kashmiri youth is fully prepared to stand against Modi government’s policy of state-repression, suppression and aggression. They are determined to take freedom from the Indian yoke. Fairly arguing, the fate of Kashmiris would have been absolutely different if Cyril Radcliffe, the arbitrator of the 1947 Boundary Commission award between India and Pakistan, had not sown the seeds of Kashmir dissension between India and Pakistan — thereby leaving Kashmir as an unfished agenda of the partition of the Subcontinent.
Undeniably, New Delhi’s Pakistan policy is characterized by certain peace impediments accompanied by propagandas and contradictions. The international community may clearly distinguish between the two faces of foreign policy: One, PM Imran Khan’s policy of peaceful coexistence with neighbours; and two, premier Modi’s policy of hostility towards India’s neighbours particularly Pakistan. It is the timely need that instead of promoting warmongering tactics towards Islamabad, the leadership in New Delhi should give an important emphasis on developing an internal dialogue on the simmering Kashmir issue and pragmatically create political-cum-diplomatic space for workable conflict resolution on Kashmir. An immediate recourse to dispute pacification is in India’s interest. Inevitably, India’s Kashmir policy requires political correctitude in place of Modi’s political faux pas.
Though the US is trying to prevent simmering tension between India and Pakistan from impacting a third country: Afghanistan, where a pragmatic peace resolution is underway to try to end more than 17 years of war with the Afghan Taliban, yet Islamabad’s support for Afghan peace talks could be in jeopardy in case of a full-blown crisis, U.S. officials told the Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. Notwithstanding the fact that some Indian analysts think that diplomatic incrementalism has produced no worthwhile progress regarding relations between the two states, this writer still advocates for this peace modus vivendi to de-escalate tension between the two nuclear powers. And most significantly, the Indian military leadership with support of its political leadership must also review Indian military’s doctrinal and professional capability with that of strategic pragmatism by prioritizing to establish the Kashmir peace dialogue with Pakistan. For Islamabad, the role of preventive diplomacy seems highly instrumental in resolving Kashmir dispute. Therefore, UNSC must play its pending due role.
— The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum- analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of European Society of International Law (ESIL).