Mahrukh A Mughal
RECENT tension between Pakistan and India is not new underlying the ongoing violence along the Line of Control (LoC). Modi’s assumption to re-elect in the upcoming election by invoking hostility and military action against Pakistan has been backfired. The dropping of a bomb by Indians across the LoC and Indian aircraft intruding into the territory of Pakistan contour to impose aggressive action to establish vicissitude in international community as well as in India. Pakistan’s authority retaliated with virility by shooting down the Indian aircraft and acceded to save every inch of its territory. However, from the outset of the exchanges, India’s authorities unreliably lied about the nature and collision of their first strike claiming this destroyed a fictitious ‘terrorist group’ and next day after the loss of its own aircraft, negligibly claimed to have shot down a Pakistani F-16. It is evident to note here that Indian authorities failed to back their claim by demonstrating deterrence on Pakistan. Currently, India is trying its best to weaken Pakistan at International platform. The FAFT group, which placed Pakistan on grey list last year (June), Indian authorities did their best to blacklist Pakistan in the recent meeting held in January by Asia-Pacific group (the subsidiary of FAFT created by G-7 countries). This shows hostility and bitterness of India against Pakistan and the attack on Pulawana, as a conspiracy of India, to indicate that Pakistan has not done enough to limit terrorist financing and money laundering against non-state actors.
India is likely to secure its demand and position from the relative support of America. Since the Pulwana attack, US Security Adviser John Bolton referenced to India’s right of “self-defense” and endorsed India’s ensuing military aggression. It is a very old strategy of America to secure sympathy from global community by chanting for peace while at the back-door procreates military action just as President Nixon in 1975 bombed Vietnam while promised to withdraw forces in his election campaign. It is implicit that the US provoked India for antagonism against Pakistan in order to enrage influence of China in the region. It is very difficult for Chinese investors also to purse its CPEC under the ambit of such resentment. The formulation of cold start doctrine by India against Pakistan after the 2001-02 standoff envisaged creating independent battle group and limited war strategy designed to seize Pakistani territory without risking nuclear conflict. This doctrine designed to inflict harm to Pakistan before international powers demanded a ceasefire. India has enough support from international powers to thwart such strike. In this instance, Pakistan will suffer a setback and it will be hard to retaliate because Pakistan has to climb up the ladder of escalation, which purposely incur cost and international pressure.
Acknowledging India’s superiority, both militarily and diplomatically, Pakistan will not choose to retaliate, if it does, India will still enjoy escalation because of superior capabilities and international support, Pakistan will face the consequences and prefer to climb down the escalation ladder. Dimension of deterrence has played a pivotal role between the two countries in recent conflict. Deterrence has played on two levels under the “cold start doctrine” by India to destabilize Pakistan and impose its hegemony. First, both nuclear states ensured that military action is potentially limited. Second, if X has undertaken military action, Y can prevent it from achieving its objective and, by successfully undertaking its own action, can force X to rethink its use of any military option. If Y has prevented X’s action and successfully undertaken its own, X cannot simply retaliate to a reprisal. X will have to climb up the escalation ladder to defend its commitment. Escalation is about a higher cost and the rethink is a function of forcing X into that cost-benefit analysis. The assumption of Indian military as well as the leaders laid the foundation that Pakistan will not retaliate and asserted their deterrence to change Pakistan’s behavior. India has forgotten that Pakistan has the capability and courage to defend its each inch of motherland, no matter how vigorous the ignition of escalation would be. India could not coerce Pakistan and Pakistan must not underestimate India based on these limited rounds.
It is evident that both countries are striving hard to enhance their military technology that would potentially increase to a point where strategies of coercion could kick into war. In this instance, India will possess the S-400 anti-access and area denial by 202 from Russia. This system is highly advanced and ensures safety of their own area against hostile action up to 400km in airspace, which is employed for not only defense but can also be employed in a preemptive offense. If things do not change through engagement, we could see India use the S-400 anti-missile system in any future round that would be an entirely different ballgame. In order to lower the tension and allow peace to exhume, Pakistan should work with UN Secretary General and a group of Muslim countries to de-escalate tension and propose decisive peace plan. Pakistan and India should come on a common table for peace and devise comprehensive plan for trade and people-to-people contact. Pakistan should provide India access to Central Asian States, whereas, India should also provide access to Pakistan to trade with Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Both States should initiate bilateral agreements for conventional and nuclear arms control. Last but not the least, India and Pakistan should agree to decide the fate of Kashmir as per the UN resolution. To materialize such stance between the two countries may not be possible under the rule of BJP in India but there could be some possibility of peace between the two countries after the forthcoming elections in India.
— The author, a freelance columnist, is based in Lahore.