Turbulence in S Asia region


Dr Nasreen Akhtar

South Asia region has been more conflicual than any other region in the world. The two rival states, India and Pakistan, fought wars over internationally disputed territory, Kashmir. Whereas, the Soviet Union went to Afghanistan to conquer the land locked state which eventually ended the super power followed by the emergence of Central Asian States- the new region and increment of the Muslim states. Disintegration of the Soviet Union, however, upset the balance of power not only in the world but also in South Asia-relationship between Pakistan and the U.S became strained which left Afghanistan to experience the bloody civil war. Afghanistan has had attraction for the external powers-US, Russia, China – Jammu and Kashmir remained a neglected dispute and it was left to suffer in the hands of Indian forces. Afghanistan’s volatile situation , India’s unilateral annexation of Jammu and Kashmir increasing unrest in South Asian region.
Though the US is striving to bring peace if negotiations with the Taliban have successfully signed. But Kashmir issue needs urgent intervention by the major powers so the lives of innocent people can be protected – those are under curfew for since 5th August. If the international community or major powers fail to help Kashmiri people, soon anarchic environment would take place which eventually affect the peace of the entire world. South Asia, at the moment, is standing at dangerous precipice . Afghanistan’s crisis increased extremism and radicalization in region ,now, Kashmir’s grave situation would add fuel to the fire because Muslims, for a long time, may not let their sisters and brothers to be punished by the Modi’s forces which target unarmed civilians in Kashmir.
Prime Minister, Imran Khan, recently has predicted the dangerous picture to the world vis-à-vis Kashmir issue. In his interview to Paula Slier of Russia’s Kremlin backed international broadcaster in Islamabad. He said, “The situation in the occupied territory could soon spiral out of control. Kashmir requires immediate intervention of UN and the world powers .Two nuclear country getting into conflict. More than eight million people are currently under siege in Kashmir and there is no news coming out of there”. It is so ironic that the modern state, India, is acting like a tribal state and believes in “might is right”, India’s military might erodes the security of whole region. Indian forces have picked more than 40,000, particularly youth, and torturing them. An historical and unprecedented oppression has taken place in Indian occupied Kashmir. It seems the world powers are helpless, they have certain compulsions and hesitating to pressurize India and to lift curfew in occupied territory. Simple condemnation or concerns are not enough. This is the time to act. UN itself is a party, it has several resolutions on Kashmir and emphasized on plebiscite, thus, no state can deprive the people of Kashmir of their freedom and fundamental rights.
Several times, in the past, UN played its pivotal role in deescalating and defusing tension in different regions- East Timorese got independence in August 1999 because the UN played its role. Recently the UN Security Council has reiterated that the Kashmir dispute to be resolved, its not a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, neither its India’s internal matter. India has already violated and denied the UN resolutions on Kashmir. Plebiscite or referendum never took place in Kashmir Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “the UN has the responsibility to act now. The US, France, Germany, Russia should step forward to play their role” to protect the Kashmiri people and to save the heavily populated region.
South Asia has become more hybridized region, internal and external actors have their strategic interests, and their rivalry is never ending-Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, India and the US. The presence of multiple forces has made South Asia a turbulent region. But India has exacerbated the regional security environment. Since two neighboring states have nuclear weapons the South Asian region, in the lieu of present tension, is more dangerous. Those are far from this region, will be no longer safe. They will feel after effects. Where could lead the, India-Pakistan, nuclear war ? The world should know the cost and the consequences. Indian defence minster has already revealed India’s nuclear policy of “No First Use”, now India could change it in panic or frustration. Whereas, Pakistan has no policy of no first use, “ if Pakistan were adopted the same policy , that would negate its reason for developing nuclear weapons in the first place”. Nuclear tension is increasing between the two South Asian regional nuclear powers.
The US has nuclear weapons but avoids using it and fighting in Afghanistan for the last 18 years. President Trump said on July 21, 2019, during talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan “He could win the war within a week, but such campaign would kill 10 million people. Afghanistan could be wiped out of the face of the earth; I don’t want to go that route”. Had president Trump used nuclear weapons to eliminate the Taliban it would have destroyed the peace in South Asia but he decided as a ‘rational actor’ and initiated dialogue with Taliban. Why Prime Minister Modi and his coteries have failed to understand the gravity of their inhuman actions in Kashmir and military escalation with Pakistan? Now the ball is in the UN’s court, the UN has to take action to save the humanity of the largest regions in the world. A peaceful South Asia would bring peace and development in the world- as the region provides international connectivity to all external powers.
—The writer is Assistant Professor, IIUI, Islamabad.