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India - Pakistan: Cold Peace

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By Nadir Mir *

Pakistan and India need to opt for ‘cold peace’. Here it would imply peace, but no friendship between the two countries. The recent clashes in Kashmir, the threat of India’s cold start doctrine, the Kargil controversy and Kashmir Day celebrations in Pakistan make it amply clear why friendship cannot be maintained between them.

Indeed, it would be ridiculous to expect that they can have an amicable relationship without resolving the core issues. The animosity between Pakistan and India is a thousand years old, enhanced by seven decades of nationalistic programming. This geopolitical narrative cannot simply be wished away.

Pakistan’s problem: The root cause of adverse relations between the two neighbouring countries is Kashmir. Now, the river waters emanating from there have become even more critical for Pakistan. 

The Kashmir freedom struggle cannot be extinguished by India’s brutality. The atrocities committed on hapless Kashmiris have been highlighted by several sane Indian columnist and political activists one of whom is Arundhati Roy. This has not only alienated the Kashmiris for good, but also antagonised the people of Pakistan.

Pakistan wants Kashmir, along with its people and rivers, returned to it. That, besides solving the problem, would mean the acceptance of the Two-Nation Theory by India.

India’s problem: An oversized geopolitical agenda has been New Delhi’s major issue. Its reluctance to accept the Two-Nation Theory, occupying Kashmir and now ‘global India’ are all manifestations of the same.

India has fought several wars against Pakistan and one with China, besides having problems with smaller neighbouring countries. It can become a big economic power considering its potential. However, conflict with its neighbours will retard its growth. India’s war with Pakistan and China, or even with one of them, will destroy everybody.

Also, without resolving the Kashmir issue, India cannot befriend Pakistan. So, it should relent on the disputed valley and make peace with Islamabad.

War avoidance: The first issue, however, is to avoid the threat of war between Pakistan and India; friendship can come later. For this, efforts should be made from both sides; they must seek peace.

‘Peace’ is the only option. Pakistan faces many internal problems that need to be resolved. Therefore, it is unlikely to provoke India that may lead to a war-like situation. Meanwhile, India needs to abort the cold start doctrine. The notion that space exits below the nuclear threshold for war fighting between Pakistan and India is not only absurd, but also suicidal.

Apparently, a conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbours can quickly become an existential problem. Cold start or an Indian surprise attack on Pakistan can lead to a catastrophe. Not that the Indian army can defeat or conquer Pakistan, but it can initiate a nuclear war. Even the initial use of tactical nuclear weapons can lead to a strategic nuclear exchange.

War as an instrument of state policy is not doable. Especially, a nuclear war is neither winnable nor survivable! Building nuclear shelters in Kashmir can neither save Pakistan nor India, in case of a nuclear holocaust. Pakistani and Indian nuclear arsenals can utterly destroy not only each other, but also the world. Hence, avoiding war is the best recipe to avoid a nuclear war.

Conflict resolution: Permanent peace can be achieved only through conflict resolution.

Firstly, Kashmiris must be given the right to choose their destiny.

Secondly, brutality committed by the Indian security forces in Kashmir must end, which is increasing hatred and making the resolution of conflicts difficult.

Thirdly, the arms race between Pakistan and India must be controlled. Defence budgets must be limited so that more funds are available to both the countries for eliminating poverty. Even though India has more money than Pakistan or greater resources, yet it cannot stop Pakistan from seeking a strategic balance. This includes a bigger nuclear arsenal, strategic alliance with China, and friendship with USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. In short, when India cannot hegemonise or defeat Pakistan, then why should it waste its resources on war-like preparations?

The view that simply a soft strategy of trade, travel and exchanges can wish away the core issues is flawed. Some Indians project the view that peace is required only by Pakistan; while others want to talk of friendship without resolving the key issues.

Logic dictates that confidence building and conflict resolution go hand-in-glove; you cannot be friends and threaten each other at the same time. The absence of conflict can itself bring friendship. It would be prudent to resolve issues, rather than brush them under the carpet. Till then, cold peace is likely to prevail between Pakistan and India.

* The writer is a retired brigadier and has authored a book titled Gwadar on the Global Chessboard. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Blog:

[Source: The Nation]

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