The Blame Game

Posted on April 8, 2011 by

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Stressed South Asian relations stall nuclear weapon nonproliferation in the region

By Kevin Rajput

Kashmir Region - Courtesy of worldatlas.com

India’s recent victory against Pakistan in the March Cricket World Cup – though highly celebrated –  refocuses the nuclear and political instabilities of the region.

“Love your neighbor, but do not throw down the dividing wall,” cautions an Indian proverb. Applicable to the Kashmir region today, South Asian countries balance respect with a careful watch on bordering nations.

The Kashmir region, a mountainous territory bordered by Asian powers, has been one of the most unstable regions in the world due to the disputed lines and external issues.

Even more, the belligerent nations are armed with nuclear weapons that each country claims to maintain because of another nation. The ownership of the Kashmir region involves a worrisome conflict between China, India and Pakistan.

India and Pakistan

The struggle for domination of the region has increased tensions as the two nations flex their muscles in occasional border skirmishes. In supplement to the Kashmir region tension, the 2001 terrorist actions in India intensified the stress. When the Indian Parliament was targeted, India shifted blame to rival Pakistan for funding and commanding Islamic extremists.

Praying soldiers in the Kashmir Region - Courtsey of nationalgeographic.com

Praying soldiers in the Kashmir Region - Courtesy of nationalgeographic.com

The Mumbai attacks threatened another war between the nuclear-armed nations and those same tensions carry over ten years later in the aging Kashmir dispute. Specifically, India and Pakistan threaten a nuclear engagement as the nations have battled already in the wars of 1947, 1964 and 1971. Though the nations did not have nuclear capabilities during the three wars, escalated tensions may threaten nuclear use in future conflicts.

Nuclear nonproliferation of both India and Pakistan is necessary to prevent a possible nuclear war that would result in millions of deaths in one of the world’s most populous regions.

As evident in the various wars between the nations, Pakistan cites nuclear ability because of India’s aggression; alternatively, India blames Pakistan’s aggression for its need of nuclear weapons.

The nations also believe in nuclear weapons as a status symbol of their power. If India drives a BMW, Pakistan prides itself when it gets one also. In this sense, the nations hold nuclear weapons to stay on an equal playing ground – one that would be tilted in favor of the nuclear capable. Therefore, a simultaneous reduction would steady the playing ground while decreasing odds of the destruction of a nuclear strike.

Take a recent and headlining example. The US-Russia START treaty declared a nuclear reduction timeline that would maintain a balance in nuclear dominance. Hailed as a nuclear nonproliferation victory, START can serve as a key model for the South Asian reduction pathway.

The Cricket World Cup also encourages peace discussions and less aggression between the nations as the Prime Ministers held talks during the game between India and Pakistan. The discussions are the first formal peace efforts between the nations after the Mumbai attacks. Thankfully, India and Pakistan did not refuse a rare chance to practice diplomacy under the comfort of Cricket.

SHOAIB AKHTAR - Courtesy of img.timeinc.net

Yousuf Gilani, with Indian Cricketers - Courtesy of img.timeinc.net

Courtesy of topnews.in

“It’s probably a blessing in disguise that we’re here to play this match – so many things will be gained … It is a breakthrough for Pakistan and India for dialogue,” — Shoaib Akhtar, Pakistani cricket player, commenting previous to the match on the peace talks between the rival nations that have been held.

“I am going there to show solidarity with our team, with their team and to promote cricket,” — Yousuf Gilani, Pakistani Prime Minister.

Time Magazine interviewed former Pakistani President Pervez Musharrat on his opinions of the South Asian discord. The interview reiterates “The Blame Game” as each nation cites another as the reason to rely on nuclear weapons.

Pervez Musharrat - Courtesy of Time.com

Q: Which is more of a threat to Pakistan — extremism or India?

A: At the moment, it’s extremism and terrorism. But you can’t compare. Let’s not think this is a permanent situation. The orientation of 90% of Indian troops is against Pakistan. We cannot ever ignore India, which poses an existential threat to Pakistan.

“We cannot ever ignore India, which poses an existential threat to Pakistan.”

Q: Is Pakistan the most dangerous country in the world?

A: It is very dangerous, yes, I will have to admit. But the most dangerous is Afghanistan.

Q: But Afghanistan doesn’t have nuclear weapons.

A: Yes, we have nuclear weapons, and we are proud of it. Nuclear weapons are the pride of every man, woman and child walking in the streets of Pakistan. Why are we nuclear? Because of India.

“Why are we nuclear? Because of India.”

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2061035,00.html#ixzz1IPz3bn6W

India and China

Tibetan Protests - Courtesy of hollywoodrepublican.net

The Tibet occupation stresses the relations between the two rising powers as India promotes democracy whereas China holds conflicting interests in communism. As a result, India houses the exiled Tibetans and promotes the Tibetan protests against China. Border conflicts in the Tibet and Kashmir region have also resulted in short violent confrontations.

These stressed relations are the core explanation for nuclear  proliferation in the region.

India refuses to reduce nuclear capabilities citing emerging conflicts with China; China also refuses removing nuclear weapons to be able to counter India if needed. As long as either of the nations maintains nuclear capabilities, the other will as well.  Both nations maintain nuclear weapons for self-defense; however, nuclear war may erupt in the heat of a political conflict.

Internationally, foreign countries claim if India is truly a democracy, it should not fear promoting the Tibetans. However, the Chinese are infuriated with the protests and seek to control the Tibetan region regardless of international appeal. The discord caused by the conflicting interests of Tibet explains the reliance on nuclear weapons.

Strangely the two nations may resort to threating a nuclear war when both understand they hold the greatest populations and population densities in the world. Should a nuclear war erupt, the damages would exceed any disaster in the world.

Tibetan Monks - Courtesy of asianews.it

The Gridlock

India, Pakistan and China cite one another as the reason for their nuclear status. Evidently, the nuclear gridlock in South/East Asia can only be resolved if all nations choose to reduce weapon piles simultaneously.

START Treaty signing - Courtesy of thewashingtonnote.com

Similar to a START treaty, a unity among the Asian nations is needed to ensure nuclear weapon nonproliferation. Without a combined reduction, the nonproliferation progress remains stalled.

International pressure and guidance can lead this unity to begin the steady removal of nuclear weapons in one of the most dangerous and hostile regions today. The Cricket World Cup diplomacy encourages further talks between India and Pakistan which may lead to decreased tensions and future peace discussions.

However, the reduction cannot approach complete removal without Chinese agreement. Chinese nuclear weapons threaten India and Pakistan; Indian nuclear weapons threaten China and Pakistan; Pakistani nuclear weapons threaten India and China. As a result, India and Pakistan would seek to hold nuclear status because of their neighbor.

These interlocking excuses for nuclear abilities contribute to the gridlock that can be – and must be – resolved through international pressure and guidance.

Courtesy of silicon.com

Written by Kevin Rajput

Coalition for Peace Action, Youth for Peace (2011)

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