CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

OPINION


Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?


The trio, Modi-Shah-Doval, can be excused for being in a self-congratulatory mood. For a month now they have stared war and internal rebellion in the face, and neither feared possibility has made an appearance. Kashmir hasn't erupted just yet because it is under the jackboot of an undeclared emergency and its associated measures. Pakistan is taken as deterred, by periodic messaging such as by the defence minister on No First Use, or the army chief on preparedness.

From this position of strength, the Indian government has through its foreign minister reiterated its longstanding position to interlocutors, in this case the European Union, that it is open to talks with Pakistan once terrorism ceases. It has taken care to muddy the waters for any future talks by having its defence minister claim that any such talks will only be on Pakistan's vacating occupied Kashmir.

Even if it comes to talks, with the new constitutional arrangement in place reducing Kashmir to a union territory, it is inconceivable that Pakistan can persuade India to undo the same. Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, miffed at his offer of talks being ignored, has written of talks on the condition that India rolls back its actions. Even so, Pakistan's foreign minister has kept open the door for talks, sensibly decrying the only alternative Pakistan has other than abandoning all hope: war.

With both sides talking of talks, optimistically, it may be taken that the worst of the latest crisis is over with. Doing so would be to breathe easy rather prematurely. Instead, each side is more likely posturing to appear the more sober of the two in the run up to the UN General Assembly session to be addressed by the two prime ministers.

Both are waiting with bated breath to see what Kashmiris might do over their loss of special status and incarceration ever since, once the government progressively removes the restrictions in place as promised. On that response will turn the two sides' next moves.

If the Kashmiris are vociferous and the Indian security forces ham-handed, then Pakistan will likely be sucked willy-nilly into the situation.

Its army cannot be seen to be standing idly by. Even as it would lay the groundwork for a renewed insurgency, using the newfound cannon fodder of enraged Kashmiri youth, it may force a crisis, to provide cover to insert the required war material and influx of foreign fighters. Business-as-usual infiltration cannot help put in place the infusion required for an insurgency surge.

India could wait Pakistan out and deal with the situation as it develops, or it could choose to be proactive. It claims to have changed tack on infiltration and may follow through with its new policy of surgical strikes to preempt Pakistan's reignition of proxy war. Pakistan has voiced its fears that this might be done under cover of a 'black operation' as an excuse.

In short, South Asia is not out of the woods quite yet. An inadvertent war may yet occur. But, can a planned, deliberate resort to war, albeit a limited one, be ruled out altogether?

It is well said that initiating war is perhaps the most fraught sovereign decision. No side risks a war it cannot win. Up front, a planned war is not one that either side could want for now. Both are on a downward economic turn. Neither can prevail over the other in a short war. This is true for India as well, despite its conventional advantage being kept honed by selective procurements lately.

This military equation has an underside. The Pakistan army cannot take the setback it has suffered in what it considers a key area of national interest with equanimity. It cannot be discounted that Pakistan may well be the first state to start a war unsure of winning it.

For the moment, it appears to have allowed the civilian side to take the lead. Pakistan's diplomatic offensive, led by Imran Khan self-styled as 'Kashmir's ambassador to the world', has drawn blood, in forcing the first consideration of the Kashmir question at the United Nations Security Council, albeit in a closed door, informal session.

Since India has swiftly moved to consolidate the change, for instance through having President Donald Trump backtrack on his earlier offer of mediation, the civilian side may not gain any appreciable traction.

Yet, Pakistan would have set the stage for military action. Its messaging internationally, including by reference to the nuclear context to the crisis, has been that India's constitutional maneuver has vitiated security. Having put the international community on notice, in light of inaction on its part Pakistan could then survey a military option.

This explains Imran Khan's reference to Munich and his extending of the tenure of the army chief.

Two factors will influence such consideration. First, in case any uprising in Kashmir is put down with a heavy hand, the UN human rights watchdog envoys, ignored by India for now, may pitch in. And if the civilian uprising succeeds in embarrassing India, Pakistan may not wish to be seen interceding overtly.

Second, the situation on the Afghanistan front is culminating, with Pakistan's sponsorship of the Taliban at the negotiation table. India may wish to spoil Pakistan's party in case of a turn to negotiations going Pakistan's way.

Both factors will increase the Indian propensity for a military showdown, increasing its inclination to preempt under its new, proactive policy.

A military resort by Pakistan would certainly amount to being a situation of threat to international peace and security, forcing the Security Council's hand. It would risk being called out as the aggressor.

However, the next crisis outbreak would likely be muddy since India may also make a bid for preemption. Thus, the Security Council, with China playing its part, may be inclined to let Pakistan off the hook.

While there are costs to war, which will surely see Pakistan hit the bottom economically, war initiation has some gains too for Pakistan. It will focus Security Council attention, helping mitigate any nuclear risks run, besides putting Kashmir - the bone of contention - indubitably in the Council's sights.

It will set back any notion of a $5 trillion Indian economy by at least a decade.

It will keep Pakistan's army atop the domestic power structure, for having acted against India's wilful puncturing of Pakistan's jugular.

War being a gamble, Pakistan could either win or lose. Setting back the Hindutva project thus will alleviate Pakistan's fears as voiced by Imran Khan.

However, if India manages to punch credibly - even without a knockout - it would make Narendra Modi a 'lord of war', giving him his 1971, or Indira moment.    

The trio, Modi-Shah-Doval, can be excused for being in a self-congratulatory mood. For a month now they have stared war and internal rebellion in the face, and neither feared possibility has made an appearance. Kashmir hasn't erupted just yet because it is under the jackboot of an undeclared emergency and its associated measures. Pakistan is taken as deterred, by periodic messaging such as by the defence minister on No First Use, or the army chief on preparedness.

From this position of strength, the Indian government has through its foreign minister reiterated its longstanding position to interlocutors, in this case the European Union, that it is open to talks with Pakistan once terrorism ceases. It has taken care to muddy the waters for any future talks by having its defence minister claim that any such talks will only be on Pakistan's vacating occupied Kashmir.

Even if it comes to talks, with the new constitutional arrangement in place reducing Kashmir to a union territory, it is inconceivable that Pakistan can persuade India to undo the same. Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, miffed at his offer of talks being ignored, has written of talks on the condition that India rolls back its actions. Even so, Pakistan's foreign minister has kept open the door for talks, sensibly decrying the only alternative Pakistan has other than abandoning all hope: war.

With both sides talking of talks, optimistically, it may be taken that the worst of the latest crisis is over with. Doing so would be to breathe easy rather prematurely. Instead, each side is more likely posturing to appear the more sober of the two in the run up to the UN General Assembly session to be addressed by the two prime ministers.

Both are waiting with bated breath to see what Kashmiris might do over their loss of special status and incarceration ever since, once the government progressively removes the restrictions in place as promised. On that response will turn the two sides' next moves.

If the Kashmiris are vociferous and the Indian security forces ham-handed, then Pakistan will likely be sucked willy-nilly into the situation.

Its army cannot be seen to be standing idly by. Even as it would lay the groundwork for a renewed insurgency, using the newfound cannon fodder of enraged Kashmiri youth, it may force a crisis, to provide cover to insert the required war material and influx of foreign fighters. Business-as-usual infiltration cannot help put in place the infusion required for an insurgency surge.

India could wait Pakistan out and deal with the situation as it develops, or it could choose to be proactive. It claims to have changed tack on infiltration and may follow through with its new policy of surgical strikes to preempt Pakistan's reignition of proxy war. Pakistan has voiced its fears that this might be done under cover of a 'black operation' as an excuse.

In short, South Asia is not out of the woods quite yet. An inadvertent war may yet occur. But, can a planned, deliberate resort to war, albeit a limited one, be ruled out altogether?

It is well said that initiating war is perhaps the most fraught sovereign decision. No side risks a war it cannot win. Up front, a planned war is not one that either side could want for now. Both are on a downward economic turn. Neither can prevail over the other in a short war. This is true for India as well, despite its conventional advantage being kept honed by selective procurements lately.

This military equation has an underside. The Pakistan army cannot take the setback it has suffered in what it considers a key area of national interest with equanimity. It cannot be discounted that Pakistan may well be the first state to start a war unsure of winning it.

For the moment, it appears to have allowed the civilian side to take the lead. Pakistan's diplomatic offensive, led by Imran Khan self-styled as 'Kashmir's ambassador to the world', has drawn blood, in forcing the first consideration of the Kashmir question at the United Nations Security Council, albeit in a closed door, informal session.

Since India has swiftly moved to consolidate the change, for instance through having President Donald Trump backtrack on his earlier offer of mediation, the civilian side may not gain any appreciable traction.

Yet, Pakistan would have set the stage for military action. Its messaging internationally, including by reference to the nuclear context to the crisis, has been that India's constitutional maneuver has vitiated security. Having put the international community on notice, in light of inaction on its part Pakistan could then survey a military option.

This explains Imran Khan's reference to Munich and his extending of the tenure of the army chief.

Two factors will influence such consideration. First, in case any uprising in Kashmir is put down with a heavy hand, the UN human rights watchdog envoys, ignored by India for now, may pitch in. And if the civilian uprising succeeds in embarrassing India, Pakistan may not wish to be seen interceding overtly.

Second, the situation on the Afghanistan front is culminating, with Pakistan's sponsorship of the Taliban at the negotiation table. India may wish to spoil Pakistan's party in case of a turn to negotiations going Pakistan's way.

Both factors will increase the Indian propensity for a military showdown, increasing its inclination to preempt under its new, proactive policy.

A military resort by Pakistan would certainly amount to being a situation of threat to international peace and security, forcing the Security Council's hand. It would risk being called out as the aggressor.

However, the next crisis outbreak would likely be muddy since India may also make a bid for preemption. Thus, the Security Council, with China playing its part, may be inclined to let Pakistan off the hook.

While there are costs to war, which will surely see Pakistan hit the bottom economically, war initiation has some gains too for Pakistan. It will focus Security Council attention, helping mitigate any nuclear risks run, besides putting Kashmir - the bone of contention - indubitably in the Council's sights.

It will set back any notion of a $5 trillion Indian economy by at least a decade.

It will keep Pakistan's army atop the domestic power structure, for having acted against India's wilful puncturing of Pakistan's jugular.

War being a gamble, Pakistan could either win or lose. Setting back the Hindutva project thus will alleviate Pakistan's fears as voiced by Imran Khan.

However, if India manages to punch credibly - even without a knockout - it would make Narendra Modi a 'lord of war', giving him his 1971, or Indira moment.    

   

OPINION

  • River in a 'Court of Law' - Legal issues pertaining to its personality
  • Syria: A Testament To International Moral Bankruptcy
  • When the State Sought to Muzzle Privacy, U-Turn Now Only to Accommodate SC Verdict
  • The Bull in A China Shop Wrecks Indian Economy
  • When Buddha Looks The Other Way: The Plight Of The Rohingya
  • A Fatal Blow to The Judiciary
  • The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality
  • Wild And Baseless Speculations of Crisis in the CPI(M)
  • Budget 2018: Fantabulous Schemes With Not A Paisa Earmarked
  • Kasganj: Sankalp Foundation and the Politics of Hate
  • PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
  • The US Game Plan in Syria
  • Both Nehru and Patel Were the Need of the Hour in 1947-48
  • The Battle of the Two Begums of Bangladesh
  • Why Bangladesh Matters
  • Kejriwal's Apology is Not What the Media Claims
  • Arrest of a '5-minute Dalits' Proves Why SC/ST Act Dilution Will Grossly Impact Real Dalits
  • The Dalits and the Law
  • Winners May Be Losers In Karnataka's Catch 22 Endgame
  • Jinnah and the BJP
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Nov 14 1889- May 27, 1964): We Still Live In A House That Nehru Built
  • Implications of Trump-Kim Summit: Nuclear Pays!
  • Thomas Reuters Foundation Survey: Measuring Safety, Generating Outrage
  • ROADMAP TO A CEASEFIRE: AFGN - PAK
  • What Are People Voting for?
  • Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India
  • Changing Discourse
  • Assam: The Mythology of "Immigrants"
  • Imran Time is Here
  • 71 Years on, Forsty Relations Countinue
  • To Stop Climate Change, We Need to Open Bordera
  • Make Use of Bid to Postpone Provincial Elections
  • Cringing and Fuddled at 71
  • Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice
  • Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi
  • Religious Bias Okayed
  • The Oslo Accords: A Bloody Legacy of Betrayal
  • Crushing the Campus
  • Three Stories And Task of The Office Of Missing Person
  • Drama Over Indo-Pak Meeting
  • An ill Wind
  • Symbolic Actions Alone Are Insufficient For Long Term Change To Occur
  • If Democracy Subverts Itself
  • Returning Land to Civilians is a Promise That Needs Follow Up
  • Democracy In Crisis: What we Know and What we Don't
  • Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together
  • Implementation Challenges Facing The Ayushman Bharat Program
  • Subverting the Central Bank
  • Under the Yoke of New-Imperialism: A Fake War of Patriotism and Treason
  • India Joins the Club
  • The Third Phase
  • President is Best Situated to Resolve Political Crisis
  • No Country for Adventure: Challenges Extreme Sports Athletes Face in India
  • Setting A Perilous Political Precedent
  • What Rahul and Modi can do in the Next Four Months
  • Finding a Win-Win Solution to Break the Deadlock
  • Temple in the Age of Colliders
  • Four Parameters of a Political Solution at This Time
  • Resolve National Question With President's Support
  • Decapitating the Leadership
  • Four Takeaways From the 2018 Election
  • Science of Words
  • The Ace up Modi's Sleeve
  • The Government Must Not Deny The TNA
  • The Prolonged Wait For Justice And For Political Leadership
  • Endgame in Afghanistan
  • Pluralist Ethos is More Relevant to National Identity
  • A Concerned Citizen's Points For Inclusion in The Manifesto of Political Parties
  • In My Own Voice: Circle of Unreason
  • RBI To The Rescue of Modi Government - It's Election Time!
  • Say No to War
  • A terrifying Fallout
  • The Type of Leadership The Country Needs
  • Death Wish as Nationalism
  • Politics on Kashmir Need Not be About Optics Alone
  • Why an Urban Job Guarantee Scheme is Not a Bad Idea
  • National Security: The New in 'New Normal'
  • Re-Promulgating an Ordinance is a Fraud on the Constitution
  • Elections 2019: India at a Crossroads
  • Peace and Inclusive Development
  • NYAY Providing Basic Income Fulfills the Vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Changed Election Narrative Based on Basic Issues
  • Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
  • Kashmir: Tracing the Degeneration of Mainstream Politics
  • Elections and the Issue of Civil Liberties
  • Jumlanomics:Chronicles of a Post-Truth Bharat
  • BJP: Hiding Failures, Targeting Nehru
  • A Mayawati Moment
  • Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!
  • Development Beyond Numbers
  • A Rational Approach to Countering Extremist Violence is Needed
  • In My Own Voice: Is This the Sprit of Democracy?
  • Prevention is The Best Migration Cure
  • The Rise of Hate
  • The Right Mantras for India's Change
  • Coming Home - Where Family Overpowers All
  • Easter Sunday Bombing Used to Create a Major Rift in Sri Lankan Society
  • Hacking Humanity
  • Environmental Rule of Law in India
  • Peace is a Word That West Has Taken From Afghans
  • Trump's War Games
  • Modi & States
  • Who is an 'Outsider' in West Bengal?
  • China on Maps
  • 19th Amendment Will Correct Itself at End of President's Current Term
  • Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Public Ethics in India
  • Presidential Candidate The People Want
  • Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?
  • Icons and Ideology of Religious Nationalism
  • Why NRC in Assam May Create Another Kashmir
  • Campaign to Abolish the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka is a Red Herring
  • As US Tries to Isolate Iran, China Steps In
  • Of Hindi and Hierarchy
  • Why Sri Lankan Elections May Bring Far Reaching Change
  • What US Policy Tells Us About India's Growing 'Friendship' With It
  • Gandhian Philosophy is a Critique of Modernity and Power
  • Inner Party Democracy is Just as Important as Funding
  • India's Foreign Policy Has Dug Itself a Deep Hole
  • 'Broken Promises' and Politics of Hate': Is Political Autonomy The Way Forward For J&K?
  • The Ninth Betrayal: America Has Let Down Khurd, Yet Again
  • Who Benefits From The WhatsApp Hacking Case?: Pertinent Question Left Unanswered
  • State Elections Results Expose "Limits" of BJP's Nationalist Agenda
  • "Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?
  • What Does Trump's "New Refugee Ban" Mean for America's Immigrants?
  • India Must Change Course as Rajapaksas Return on Sinhala Buddhist Wave
  • The Supreme Court's First Judgment Without an Author
  • Geopolitics in South Asia Renders Millions Stateless
  • "Shakespeare's Vision of the Improbale" Unfolds: Is Modi Today's Macbeth?
  • Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa: Finding Areas of Mutual Agreement
  • "The Game of Religion is Played by Men": Women Speak From the Margins of Ayodhya Dispute
  • Telangana Ecounter- Failure of Local Police Poses Grave Danger to Democracy
  • The Changing Nature of War and Diplomacy
  • Sri Lanka: Government's Cooperation A "Temporary Phenomenon"?
  • The Role of Corruption in This Season of Revolts
  • New Citizenship Law to a "Brazenly Divisive Agenda"
  • Youth Agitation Against CAA Brings a Historic Generational Shift
  • "Digital Authoritarianism": With Internet Shutdowns Normalised, the Digital Space is Democracy's New Battleground
  • Sri Lanka: The Challenge of Development Amidst Devolution of Power
  • The Political Divides that Split India
  • 'Never Again': Echoes of Nazi Crimes Remain Alive 75 Years After Auschwitz
  • "Legacy of Mutual Suspicion" Plagues Opponents of the Modi Regime
  • "Toxic" India Sliding into an Environmental Abyss
  • Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
  • Kejriwal Isn't Communal, But His Desire Not to be Seen Anti-Hindu May Prove Self-Defeating
  • Religion States Won't Oppose US-Taliban Deal
  • Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?
  • The Geopolitics of the Covid 19 Pandemic
  • Cold War Begins As Nations Fued Over Coronavirus
  • India Fights Coronavirus...With Scriptures, Morals and Police
  • The Burden of COVID 19
  • Do Israeli Settelemnts in Occupies West Bank Constitute a War Crime ?
  • The Global Debate on COVID-19 Lockdown: Listen to Divergent Scientific Voices or Risk Manipulation by Big Businesses?
  • Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings And The Demand For Justice
  • How India Can Solve the "Catch-22 Situation" of Allowing Migrant Workers to Return Home
  • The Time for Universal Basic Income Has Arrived
  • COVID-19 Crisis Exposes Fatal Weaknesses of 'Strong' Leaders
  • The Pandemic Has Taught Us the Importance of Maintaining an Ecological Balance, Will we Remember IT?
  • The Muslim Elite Has Let Down the Muslim Poor
  • "There is Nothing Nationalist or Non-Nationalist in Reporting"
  • Why WHO Took 3 Months to Declare a Global Pandemic
  • A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices
  • The 'Relief Package' of Online Education May End up "Institutionalising Drop Outs"
  • Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus?
  • As China Ups the Ante, This is What India Must do...
  • Tackling Racism With Compassionate Reporting-CNN Leads The Way
  • Sri Lanka: Pluralism In Governance Required In The Absence of Parliament
  • Idia's Tactical Non-Solutions To China's Incursions in Ladakh
  • "At The Brink of A New Cold War": Sino-US Ties at a Crossroads
  • In Light of Rising Conservatism, Can The Personal be Political Again?
  • India-China: The Complete Breakdown of Trust, How and Why
  • Rethinking Development After Covid-19
  • The Pandemic Must Transform Our Agriculture
  • Treacherous Road to Make Manu History
  •