Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi
INDISCREETLY, in order to buy victory in this election, the Modi government intends to play withan evil gamble of making another futile strike inside Pakistan. Even though the election is in India, it appears that the ongoing tension between the two belligerent states will not shortly cool down. In reality, it is not the election only, it is the Kashmir issue stupid. The Indian establishment is highly worried over the changing dynamics in Kashmir indicating Kashmir as India’s lost dream. National Conference President Farooq Abdullah said, that the people of Kashmir are not responsible for the Pulwama attack but such type of incidents will continue till the “Kashmir issue is resolved politically”.
Hindutva Twitter—which has long made MAGA Twitter look quaint—seethed with denunciations of “traitors” and “Pakapologists” and writhed with demands fo rever greater violence. The extent to which Modi’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has entered the Indian mainstream—its bloodstream—seemed scarily absolute. Modi is trying to up the ante between the two counties during the course of election as Narendra Modi’s antagonism slogan against Pakistan fawns the flames of Hindu nationalism in India. Undeniably, India and Pakistan could stumble into a war over Kashmir, thereby making an escalation to a nuclear confrontation a scenario. Kashmir issue is core to the South Asian peace: yet if there is political fair play, there is no reason as to why this dream of conflict resolution cannot see the light of the day. In this backdrop of threat management-cum-crisis management, there is an inevitable need of fostering hot peace dynamics in South Asia via brokerage bargain peace synergy.
A peace bargain process has three basic components. One, it is a routinised dialogue based on a persistent peace negotiation synergy marking a series of meetings on a regular basis, even if little or no progress is evident. Two, the very peace process propels the scope of optimism over pessimism via means of a diplomatic bargain. There have to be enough agreements, even tiny ones, to keep the process rolling ahead. The former makes it easier for one or more parties to accept a particular sub-agreement, the latter ensures that once an agreement is reached, then violations by the other side will be detectable. Finally, such a process will involve a series of incentives and verification arrangements.
Arguably, crisis management, though a tactical gain, ultimately becomes a strategic loss in the given geopolitical template where U.S. foreign policy objectives do not match with the purpose of making broader strategic stability in South Asia. And yet, a major conflict between New Delhi and Islamabad would have negative political, economic and security impacts where the smaller states of the region feel viably insecure and disturbed because of the ongoing tension between the two powerful states — India and Pakistan. Ipso facto, the role of regional peace diplomacy becomes more vital whereby both China and Russia can positively contribute towards peace building process in South Asia as evident from the current Russian role in preventing war between India and Pakistan.
Objectively arguing, the very tools of brokered bargaining largely help in bridging the gaps that exist between the two levels: the international system level, and the state actor level. In this backdrop, both India and Pakistan should use twin methodology of conflict management thereby utilizing the international mediation by the third party, and also engaging the means of bilateral diplomacy between the two governments. Since Pakistan and India are members of the SCO, Russian mediation could be of significant importance to mend the fences between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Truly, Russia holds considerable influence over both India and Pakistan.
The brokering peace bargain helps in the decision making and bargaining components of such conflicts which the antagonists have involved in a parallel process of compliance and/or deterrence vis-à-vis the nuclear-capable adversary and attracting third-party attention in a bid to either leverage their own position and extract gains or de-escalate the crisis. This scenario evolves the incorporation of a multilateral peace dialogue on Kashmir among all stakeholders. Nevertheless, Modi’s created zero-sum game via hot war must be a genuine concern for the international peace community. Pakistan’s principle resolve on Kashmir cannot be deterred by Modi’s war threat. Modi’s policy to ban APHC is absolutely futile. India needs to come out from its daydreaming scenario—extending its military status quo on Kashmir.
With the report in the US Foreign Policy Journal that the US count claims no F-16 jet was shot down by IAF’s MiG-21 Bison, the Indian military is already demoralized. Yet before making any indiscreet attempt to violate Pakistan sovereignty, the Modi government need not reminded that Pakistan’s defence is well guarded by one of the best defence forces in the world whose professional endowment is proverbial. Should not the Indian military learn the lesson from its latest misadventure to strike inside Pakistan? India has to respect the norms of international law vis-a-vis state sovereignty.
There is no denying that peace and stability in a nuclear South Asia is equally concomitant to the template of peaceful coexistence. But sadly, the waning SAARC future is a matter of grave concern. India’s hostile regional policy has plagued this organization. The current chair of SAARC, Nepal has been urging both India and Pakistan to create a smooth environment for hosting the upcoming summit in Islamabad, but if the tense present atmosphere remains unchanged between the two nuclear capitals, the chances of it taking place are remote. Though South Asia lags behind in economic development, it reserves a huge potential in terms of resources and markets. It is high time the two nuclear states of the region resolve their differences via preventive diplomacy. Therefore, regional powers’ role accompanied by the UN peace diplomacy is organic for promoting peace in conflict and poverty-stricken South Asian region.
—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 Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.
Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi