Coming Close To The Nuclear Bowls of Wrath (Revelation 7)


Clashes in Kashmir Risk Taking India-Pakistan Back to Brink of Nuclear War

01:13 24.07.2016
Tensions have reemerged in the disputed territory of Kashmir, a Muslim-dominated region that has long been controlled by India, but whose population longs to be reunited with their brethren in Pakistan exacerbating longstanding tensions between the two nuclear powers.

Ten years ago, Pakistan and India stepped away from the abyss, after decades of warring over the territory, by deciding in principle to dissipate tensions and allowing the free movement of people and goods across the line of control.

The win-win agreement would have seen the two countries withdraw one million soldiers from Kashmir and administer the territory jointly providing residents more autonomy as progress moved towards a final resolution – but it never happened with then leader Pervez Musharraf attempting to flex his leverage with the Bush administration over the fight against al-Qaeda by stepping away from the table not realizing at the time that he was playing his hand too deep.
Apart from brinksmanship, Musharraf faced another staggering and unexpected challenge when he called on militant Islamist groups occupying Kashmir to disband and demobilize in 2003 to facilitate the diplomatic process – these militants turned into al-Qaeda affiliate Lashkar-e-Taiba that turned its weapons on the people of Mumbai.

The situation in Kashmir today is now as dire as it was when over a million soldiers were always a hair-string trigger way from turning the territory into one of the world’s worst conflict zones. Since July 8, when a popular young Muslim rebel Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with Indian security forces, the Kashmiri people have erupted in anger with demonstrations leading to at least 42 killed, hundreds blinded, and some 3,500 people injured.

Today, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif aspires to take back control of Kashmir from India, the granting of which many historical scholars deem a tragic mistake by British administrators.
In 1947, the disastrous partition of India administered by Lord Mountbatten, a friend of India’s founder Jawaharlal Nehru, stripped Pakistan of a future by separating it into two parts – East and West Pakistan – separated by over a thousand miles of India’s territory. The partition itself resulted in the death of some 1 million people and years later, after a bloody war and another 1 million people killed, East Pakistan ultimately became what is known as Bangladesh.

There were other mistakes in the map making process – Mountbatten looked to divide the pieces by Muslims majority areas and Hindu majority areas. Kashmir, however, has always been dominated by the Islamic faith which is espoused by some 70% of the population.

The resource rich territory, a land dispute that also comes with treasures and minerals, sits at the hard of the sibling rivalry between the two countries. With the Kashmiris now clamoring for change, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government now seems set on reigniting a nuclear standoff against its long-time rival calling on the people in Kashmir to agitate, demonstrate, and wave Pakistan’s flag.

Pakistan and India now sit on roughly 120 nuclear warheads each – enough to eradicate life from earth several times over – and if the 1989-2002 conflict between the two countries, a violent cycle that led to at least 50,000 deaths according to Human Rights Watch and as many as 90,000 dead Kashmiri Muslims according to retired Congressman Edolphus Towns (D-NY), is any indicator then the situation could escalate rapidly towards a doomsday scenario.

India In The Middle Of An Islamic a Storm

India Will Pay a Heavy Price for Hegemony in Indian Ocean Region

Posted on April 19th, 2015
Dilrook Kannangara

When a Chinese submarine docked in Colombo for supplies, India was needlessly worried. In retaliation India regime changed the Rajapaksa administration installing a puppet regime. This follows India applying the Monroe Doctrine to dominate the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). To assist in its empire building work, India has bought an outdated Soviet aircraft carrier, modernising its military, importing weapons in record numbers and expanding its above surface and below surface military platforms in the ocean. In addition India is building choke points in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and, in Sri Lanka to harass and pressure Chinese commercial shipping. However, this needless military expansion is doing India more damage than good.
China is building a landmark railway link to Europe and Africa which will be completed in three (3) years. This railway which comprises three different links will dramatically change trade with Europe. It cuts down transport time and cost by 55%. It opens up Central Asia which offers tremendous potential. It will complement China’s sea based Silk Road. As expansionist India militarises the peaceful Indian Ocean Region with military ambitions, other countries will join in to spoil it for all. Which nation will suffer most? India, because it has to totally depend on the Indian Ocean to get its exports to their destinations and bring in vital imports including crude oil. China can seamlessly operate.
India’s two largest state economies are Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, both coastal states relying heavily on import and export industries. If the Indian Ocean Region is militarised which complicates its security status, these economies will collapse. It may possibly lead to India’s much anticipated disintegration.
After years of no real progress Pakistan has found new funding sources to ensure its security and the security of its vital allies. Iran’s expanding nuclear energy program has sent chills down the spine of Saudi leaders. Unable to start its own nuclear weapons program, Saudi relies on Pakistani nuclear power for defence. Therefore it is in Saudi’s best interests to ensure Pakistan maintains a strong nuclear deterrent which can be used to protect Saudi interests too without the nasty effects that come with it. This is a relationship India fears but is unable to influence.
Buoyant by foreign support, Pakistan rapidly expands its nuclear and oceanic weapons platforms. Large submarine fleet expansion is a key development. If India wants to play hard ball in the IOR, it must be ready for competition making this more difficult. With Chinese assistance Pakistan develops its Gwardar port at the Strategic Strait of Hormuz. Pakistani oceanic vessels will match Indian vessels forcing India to take on both Pakistan and China. It is a competition India cannot win.
India survived for close to 70 long years thanks to unconditional support from the Soviet Union and Russia. Highly lethal weapons and their world class technology found their way to India cheaply and at times free. It was a tremendous boon for a poor nation like India. However, Russia’s conventional weapons industry has lost its glamour. Now it is nothing more than ordinary and certainly not world class. China has rapidly caught on. To face this expanding deficiency, India has to rely on western weapons which are at least ten times more expensive than Russian weapons. Unlike generous Russia, India is not getting technology transfer from western nations.
India’s gradual rapprochement with the west has Russia doubting Indian intentions. As a result Russia is now reaching out to Pakistan and China which it shunned until now due to Indian requests.
Panic is taking its toll on India. Its panicky decisions make it worse for India. Out of panic India installed a puppet regime in Sri Lanka, tries to interfere in Nepal, Maldives and Myanmar. Unknown to Indian think tanks, this is driving more and more nations against it. Other powerful Asian nations with commercial interests in mind are now forced to look at the military option to contain India.
Indian interference in Vietnam against China is causing it more harm than good. Tit for tat manoeuvres against China will not take India anywhere as its economy is barely one fourth of China’s.
Indian policy makers must realise panic driven strategies and hegemony make more enemies and no friends. Inevitable disintegration of India is a certainty which can be averted only by focusing on its poor which is the world’s largest. Playing second fiddle to USA is not going to save India as Pakistan learn the hard way in its war against India.

Kashmir Could Catalyze The Nuclear Holocaust (Daniel 8:8)


A supporter of Shiv Sena holds Pakistan's national flag and a portrait of Lakhvi during a protest in New Delhi

A new crisis is brewing between two nuclear-armed neighbors

By Tom Rogan
April 14, 2015
India and Pakistan each possess more than 100 nuclear warheads. Their political establishments really don’t like each other. Correspondingly, we should always pay heed to tensions between the two nations.
A new crisis is brewing.

Last week, India announced it will establish protected settlements to rehouse about 200,000 Hindus in the Kashmir Valley. Forced out of Indian Kashmir by Pakistan-supported Islamists in 1989-1990, the displaced citizens are a priority for Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government. Conversely, Islamist protests illustrate opposition to Hindu empowerment. India and Pakistan have been fighting over the province of Kashmir since independence from Britain in 1947; they have fought three wars over it, in fact.

Then on Friday, Pakistan released Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, ringleader of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people across India’s financial capital. While Pakistan’s primary intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, has protected Lakhvi from prosecution, his release is striking. Because Pakistan knows that India knows that Lakhvi’s group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, benefits from the spy agency’s support, guidance and shelter. And it’s releasing him anyway.

Believing men like Lakvhi can undercut India’s regional influence, the ISI’s pro-extremist element is flexing its muscles by releasing him. The problem, however, is that it’s not just Lakhvi on the loose. With an array of terrorist groups under its thumb — elements of the Haqqani network and the Pakistani Taliban, for two — the ISI has a terror portfolio with which to wreak havoc. And as attested by the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, the spy agency has repeatedly proven its support for groups that risk war. Lakhvi’s release is both a physical threat and a possible signal of increasing Pakistani aggression. It illustrates the looming danger in near-term India-Pakistan relations.

Regardless, the present crisis is centrally connected to Kashmir.

As evidenced by statements from Pakistan’s powerful army chief, General Raheel Sharif, and recent exchanges of fire, and with India now building Hindu-sectarian influence in the region, the risk of conflict between the two nations is increasingly real. Still, with Pakistan openly paranoid about India’s greater power, the country’s leaders are likely to regard what’s happening in Kashmir as a reflection of a broader Indian plan to weaken Pakistan.

Pakistan’s hardline anti-India factions will push for a tough response. While General Sharif has shown courage in previously confronting the hard-liners, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s weakness means that he has few reliable allies; the potential for escalation is thus significant. This mix of fear and emotion is at the heart of Pakistani politics and explains why successive governments have been either unwilling or unable to counter terrorist fanatics.

In addition, with Modi in New Delhi, this Indian government is far less tolerant of Pakistani terrorism than its predecessor. A repeat Mumbai 2008 would ignite a far stronger response. The risk is that Pakistan may gamble otherwise.

There is a central reality of international relations at stake here: Extremism is a political toxin that, unconfronted by strong leadership, risks disaster. Whatever happens, we’re left with a tragic truth. Four months after hundreds of school children were brutally murdered, Pakistan is re-energizing its demented waltz with terror.

The Seed Of WW3: The Asian Subcontinent (Rev 16)

FEBRUARY 10, 2015
By Vijay Shankar*

After the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, it dawned upon President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev how catastrophically close to nuclear war they had blundered due to a misshapen military-led nuclear policy, a ludicrous nuclear doctrine that believed that a nuclear war could be fought controlled and won. Both leaders sought a change to the nuclear status-quo. As Khrushchev described it, “The two most powerful nations had been squared off against each other, each with its finger on the button.” Kennedy shared this distress, remarking at a White House meeting, “It is insane that two men, sitting on opposite sides of the world, should be able to decide to bring an end to civilisation.” He called for an end to the Cold War. “If we cannot end our differences,” he said, “at least we can help make the world a safe place for diversity.” In a series of private letters, Khrushchev and Kennedy opened a dialogue on banning nuclear testing. Thus began a progression of political moves and agreements that sought to dampen the risk of a nuclear war, contain the proliferation of nuclear weapons, do away with tactical nuclear weapons, limit strategic arms, cut arsenal size and indeed bring stability to nuclear relations. If at all there is a historical lesson to be learned then it is that nuclear risk reduction and stability begins with serious dialogue between leadership.

The Subcontinental Nightmare

If one were to hypothesise what petrifying form a nuclear nightmare may take, then it is a hair trigger, opaque nuclear arsenal that has embraced tactical use under decentralised military control steered by a doctrine seeped in ambiguity and guided by a military strategy that carouses and finds unity with non-State actors. It does not take a great deal of intellectual exertions to declare that this nightmare is upon the subcontinent. The need to bring about an awakening to the dangers of a nuclear conflagration is therefore pressing.

The effect of an enfeebled civilian leadership in Pakistan that is incapable of action to remove the military finger from the nuclear trigger; the active attendance and involvement of jihadists in swaying strategy; technology intrusions brought in by covert means; absence or at best ambiguity in doctrinal underpinnings that make Pakistan’s nuclear posture indecipherable and the alarming reality of ‘intention-to-use’, all in aggregate makes the status-quo untenable. The need for change in the manner in which we transact nuclear business is urgent. Strategic restraint predicated on failsafe controls, verification in a transparent environment, providing logic to size and nature of the arsenal and putting the brakes on the slide to nuclear capriciousness become imperatives to stabilising the deterrent relationship on the subcontinent.

But the catch is, how does one begin a meaningful nuclear dialogue with an emasculated Pakistani civilian establishment that does not control a military which in turn finds no reason to come to terms with a subordinate role? And as Cohen so succinctly put it, “Pakistan will continue to be a state in possession of a uniformed bureaucracy even when civilian governments are perched on the seat of power. Regardless of what may be desirable, the army will continue to set the limits on what is possible in Pakistan.” Add to this is the widely held belief within the army that terror as sanctioned by the Quran (I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels: Sura 12) is a legitimate instrument of State power; the nature of the predicament becomes clear.

The Tri-Polar Tangle

A singular feature of the deterrent relationship in the region is its tri-polar character. As is well known today, it is the collusive nature of the Sino-Pak nuclear relationship which created and sustains its nuclear weapons programme. Therefore it is logical to conclude that there exists doctrinal links between the two which permits a duality in China’s nuclear policy; a declared No First Use can readily fall back on Pakistan’s developing First Use capability as far as India is concerned. Such links have made China blind to the dangers of nuclear proliferation as exemplified by the AQ Khan affair.
No scrutiny, of any consequence, of the regional nuclear situation can avoid looking at the internals of Pakistan. The country today represents a very dangerous condition that has been brought about by the precarious recipe that the establishment has brewed in nurturing fundamentalist and terrorist organisations as instruments of their military strategy. The extent to which their security establishment has been infiltrated is suggested by the attacks on PNS Mehran, Kamra air base, Karachi naval harbour and the assassination of the Punjab Governor; while the recent murderous assault on the Army School in Peshawar and the every day terror killings are more symptomatic of the free-run that these elements enjoy across the length and breadth of that country. Such a state of affairs does not inspire any confidence in the likelihood of the nuclear nightmare fading away or the robustness of their nuclear command and control structures to keep it in check.

Failure of the US Af-Pak Policy

As early as 2003 the US set out two major policy goals towards Pakistan, firstly holding it as an indispensable ally in its war in Afghanistan and secondly ending the proliferation of nuclear weapons in and from the region. However, over a decade later, both goals have failed dismally. There are confirmed reports that the Pak military has persistently deceived the US forces while elements within the former either lack the will to combat the insurgency or are actively involved with the jihadists. On the nuclear front, the rapid setting up of the unsafeguarded Khushab series (II, III and IV) nuclear reactors with Chinese collaboration having no other purpose than the production of weapon grade Plutonium, development of tactical nuclear weapons and the uninhibited growth of their arsenal do not in anyway enthuse belief in the US ability to exercise any stewardship over Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile. The inexplicable disappearance of key nuclear scientists who had recorded liaisons with al Qaeda remain alarming episodes that must cause anxieties. With US involvement in the Af-Pak greatly diminished and their focus on nuclear proliferation much sharper, the time is ripe for the US to clamp down on the maverick Pakistani nuclear posture.

Orientation of Sino-Pak Nuclear Collusion

The key to GHQ Rawalpindi’s compliance with rational norms of nuclear behaviour lies in Beijing. And the direction, in which Sino-Pak collusion is headed will to a large extent influence nuclear stability in the region. If the alliance was intended (as it now appears) to nurture a first use capability in order to keep subcontinental nuclear stability on the boil then the scope for achieving lasting stability is that much weakened. However, the current political situation in Pakistan presents a frightening possibility which is not in China’s interest to promote, more so, since Islamic terrorist elements have sworn to obtain nuclear weapons and the politico-ethnic situation in western China remains fragile. This in turn provides an opportunity to the Indian leadership to bring about change in the current ‘tri-polar tangle’.

A Blue Print for Regional Nuclear Stability

Against the reality of conventional war with its limited goals, moderated ends and the unlikelihood of it being outlawed in the foreseeable future, the separation of the conventional from the nuclear is a logical severance. Nuclear weapons are to deter and not for use; intent is the key; coherence and transparency are its basis. These remain the foundational principles that a nuclear weapon state must adhere to. However, given the politics of the region, historical animosities and the persisting dominance of the military in Pakistan, the dangers of adding nuclear malfeasance to military perfidy is more than just a possibility. Stability in this context would then suggest the importance of not only reinforcing assured retaliation to nuclear violence, but at the same time for India to bring about a consensus among both China and the US to compel Pakistan to harmonise with foundational rules of nuclear conduct. India’s current strategic relations with the US and Prime Minister Modi’s impending visit to China provides a timely opportunity to bring an end to the nightmare by swabbing the bleakness of subcontinental nuclear instability.

*Vijay Shankar
Former Commander-in-Chief, Strategic Forces Command of India

India And Pakistan In A “Hot War”


India Pakistan Nuclear Missiles
By Yasir Hussain
The South Asian security architecture became complex and less predictable after India carried out its first nuclear weapons test in 1974 – in a so-called Peaceful nuclear test. Since India only received a slap on the wrist, this partly emboldened New Delhi to test again in 1998 and its abstention from recent voting on the resolution that seeks a ban on future testing makes their intentions doubtful. It remains to be seen, how the international community will react if India resumes testing.
The conflict prone Indo-Pak subcontinent has witnessed an arms buildup by India that Pakistan is trying to match, and nuclear weapons have bridged that conventional military asymmetry to some extent. However, the Indian acquisition of a ballistic missile defense system, massive expenditures on satellites and Russian leased nuclear powered submarines that India is reverse engineering, are dangerous trends. The nature of strategic stability between these arch rivals could then tilt from that of deterrence to compellence, as India could have assumed a sense of enhanced power that may motivate it to coerce by taking ‘pre-emptory action’ rather than deterring Pakistan. The Western powers and other minions, who have economic or geo-strategic interests with India, unfortunately encourage this imbalance in power. This dangerous trend could push the region towards perpetual instability.
This shift in Indian policy of credible minimum deterrence is motivated by global power ambitions and has become possible because of three reasons: India’s economic rise, its narrative to project itself as a prospective counter-weight China and willingness of Beijing’s competitors to let New Delhi bid to such position. The facts are, however, a bit different. It is not necessary that India could do American and Western bidding to actually contain China. Like them, New Delhi also has huge trade interests with Beijing and there is visible economic interdependence. In this sense, China does not react to Indian provocations to consider it is a competitor.
Since, the BJP came into power, security artists in New Delhi have drafted policies for more bombs and better ways to deliver them. The shift in the Indian nuclear posture from credible minimum deterrence to that of effective deterrence is clear from the recent developments that have taken place since Modi came to power. Developments, such as flight testing of the subsonic cruise missile, Nirbhay, ICBM Agni V, super-sonic cruise missile Brahmos, Dhanush missiles, and the most controversial Indo-Australian uranium deal and recent refusal to the UN Draft resolution on NPT depicts Modi’s over–consciousness in national security. Recently, the BJP government has opted to buy $525m worth of Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel. Indian echoes arms imports have increased by 111% within 3 to 4 years and its weapons purchases account for about 14% of the global arms trade.
Indian domestic politics also plays a role in this policy shift. The Indian nuclear establishment creates the conditions that favor weapons acquisitions by encouraging extreme foreign threats and actively lobbying for increased defense spending. The roots of Modi’s security driven initiatives can be found in BJP’s maiden budget that overwhelmingly boosted its defense budget to 12% and foreign direct investment in domestic weapons industry has also increased to 49%. The nuclear establishment in India has the lion’s share in the country’s defense budget and more importantly a nod from Modi in making more sophisticated missile systems – a shift to reliance on hard power.
From the developments of last three months, it can be seen that the word minimum has lost its meaning in Indian nuclear policy of deterrence. Minimum is just a hangover of a bygone era that was only associated with an economically weak India. With newfound money and political support, India is pushing towards a more aggressive nuclear posture to deter regional adversaries. In pursuit of regional hegemony, its nuclear posture is even more aggressive than other nuclear powers. India sees its unchecked nuclear spending as a policy tool in achieving national interests. It is quite clear that, in the near future Modi’s hawkish policies and aggressive doctrinal shift will further deteriorate regional peace and stability — and Western myopia has let this happen.

The Asian Nuclear Horns Are Racing To THE END (Revelation 15:2)

‘Asia is the centre of a new nuclear arms race’


Nuclear arms race in Asia
 By: Sandip Dighe]
 Mirror speaks to nuclear arms expert and award-winning scientist Manpreet Sethi on the logistics of weaponry in the subcontinent

Pakistan is way ahead in the race — it could possess up to 200 nuclear weapons by 2020; roughly equivalent to the United Kingdom’s nuclear arsenal,” said Dr Manpreet Sethi, project head on Nuclear Security for the Centre for Air Power Studies of New Delhi. In the city to deliver a lecture on ‘India’s Nuclear Challenges’, organised by the Centre for Advanced Strategic Studies (CASS) and Science Forum of MES Abasaheb Garware College, Sethi waxed eloquent on her area of expertise. She was awarded the prestigious K Subrahmanyam Award for 2014, conferred on an Indian scholar, journalist or analyst, who has made an outstanding contribution in the area of strategic and security studies. Between 2002 and 2005, Sethi carried out a research project for the Department of Atomic Energy on ‘Nuclear Energy for India’s Energy Security at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in New Delhi’; she has also authored Argentina’s Nuclear Policy, coauthored ‘Nuclear Deterrence and Diplomacy’, and has written several academic articles in national and international journals.

Q: How fast is Pakistan’s nuclear weapons stockpile growing? It recently tested two missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads: the 900-km range Shaheen 1A and 1,500-km range Shaheen II.

While there are significant uncertainties about the scope and sophistication of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, the country, apparently, has the most aggressive one in the world for producing nuclear material for military purposes. By 2020, it could have sufficient weapons grade uranium and plutonium to manufacture more than 200 nuclear weapons, roughly equivalent of the size of UK’s nuclear arsenal.

Q: Where is Pakistan getting the material it needs to develop these weapons?

Pakistan has a history of assistance from China. Over time, it has developed its own systems; now, it is capable of manufacturing on its own. But, we suspect China might be assisting it in certain areas.

Q: How dangerous, then, does the ongoing rivalry between India and Pakistan become?

After the Kargil War, India developed a new doctrine of rapid, limited conventional military operations designed to punish Pakistan but remain below Pakistan’s presumed nuclear threshold. At present, the risk that terrorists could breach Pakistan’s nuclear security is magnified by the strong presence of domestic extremists and foreign jihadist groups there.

Q: What is your forecast for India-Pakistan for the next 5-10 years, in terms of security and nuclear weapons development?

Although India lauded the democratic change of government in Pakistan in 2013, the latter’s army’s role in the domestic power structure limits this. Still, while we are hopeful of peaceful relations, India has to keep its borders safeguarded and intelligence on high alert to guard against mischief.

Q: Do you think Asia is witnessing a nuclear weapons build-up?

It would be a cliche to say that only four countries — China, India, Pakistan and North Korea — are currently expanding their nuclear arsenals. Russia, and for that matter USA as well, are building new missiles, upgrading and modernising their weaponry. Although each nation’s build-up is motivated differently, the combination does make Asia the centre of a new nuclear arms race.

The South Asian Nuclear Dilemma

India and Pakistan: A Debilitating Relationship

After a brief flicker of optimism, bilateral relations have soured once again.
By Saim Saeed
November 29, 2014

In early November, a suicide bomber detonated himself at a checkpoint on the Pakistani side of the Wagah border, killing sixty people. Immediately after, Hamid Gul, the former chief of the ISI, Pakistan’s powerful military-controlled intelligence agency, gave an interview on Pakistani television accusing India of being behind the attack. “We offered our hand in friendship, and this is how they repay us,” he said. Despite the fact that the attack was claimed by three different militant groups based in Pakistan, many Pakistanis shares Gul’s sentiments. And given how bad relations between the two countries have been recently, that should not surprise.

For a brief moment after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory, there was optimism in both India and Pakistan. In an unprecedented move, Modi invited his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to attend his inauguration ceremony. The previous year, when Sharif was contesting his own elections, he made bettering relations with India – “normalization” as both Pakistan and India call it – a campaign promise. Many thought that with two governments both interested in normalization, both having secured solid majorities in their respective election victories and facing little domestic political opposition, it was finally time for the nuclear-armed rivals to move forward.

Unfortunately, it has all been downhill since. Modi has virtually ignored Pakistan, scuttling scheduled talks on the pretext that Pakistan was communicating with separatists from the disputed Kashmir region. He issued a series of statements accusing Pakistan of “waging a proxy war of terrorism,” including a speech in the Kashmiri town of Kargil, where both countries fought a mini-war in 1999. An opportunity to meet in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September was spurned; both countries have been tight-lipped over a possible meeting at the upcoming SAARC summit in Kathmandu next week, neither showing much optimism.

The diplomatic fallout has had lethal consequences. Within the past few months, border security forces have engaged in heavy shelling across the border, killing dozens of civilians and security personnel, shattering a ceasefire that has held for the better part of a decade. Given the initial optimism, why has the relationship soured so quickly?

Pakistan’s Domestic Troubles

The smiles and handshakes at Modi’s inauguration notwithstanding, perhaps a more prescient symbol of the relationship was on display in Herat, where four heavily armed gunmen attacked India’s consulate on the eve of the inauguration. Both Indian and Afghan security officials blamed militant groups backed and based in Pakistan, which has a history of using militant outfits as a tool of foreign policy in both Afghanistan and the disputed region of Kashmir. Many suggested that the attack was a message from the Pakistani military not just to India, but to the Sharif government as well, namely that it is the military, which relies on its rivalry with India to justify its disproportional budget, that ultimately decides Pakistan’s foreign policy – not Sharif. It is hard to argue with that: Under military pressure, Sharif reneged on a promise to grant India “most-favored nation” status despite renaming it “non-discriminatory market access,” a policy meant to deregulate and increase bilateral trade.

The military’s unwillingness to improve relations also reflects just how deeply antipathy towards India is embedded within its ranks. Despite a concerted military campaign against the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas, the military is unwilling to dismiss its policy of patronizing militant groups that target India. The policy, known derisively as “good Taliban, bad Taliban” by critics, asserts that the Pakistan military is only interested in fighting militants that threaten it directly. Others, like the Haqqani Network, which primarily targets NATO and Afghan forces, or Lashkar-e-Taiba, which primarily attacks India, are either tolerated or, in some cases, provided with support. Hafiz Saeed, the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba, which conducted the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 162 people, roams freely in Lahore with a security detail granted by the government despite repeated calls from India and the United States for his arrest (the United States has even put a $10 million bounty on his head). His continued freedom encourages India to believe that Pakistan is still not serious about tackling its various militants, particularly those who target India.

Sharif has also been severely weakened by protests across the country led by opposition politicians Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, both accusing Sharif of rigging last year’s elections and calling for his ouster. Protesters staged a sit-in for months right in front of parliament, leading to a cancellation of many foreign visits, including one by Chinese President Xi Jinping (who still went to India, his next scheduled stop). Sharif has lost much of his legitimacy and political capital, and is unable to carry out many of his proposed policies, given the strength of the opposition.

‘Muscular’ Foreign Policy

Modi’s party, the Hindu nationalist BJP, had always accused the previous Congress government of being “soft” on national security, and promised to conduct a more “muscular” foreign policy once in power. This meant a less friendly approach to Pakistan than that of his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, who was seen as more amenable to a deal. Since coming to power, Modi’s administration has been combative in its statements, especially in the wake of the cross-border shelling. His right-hand man and the BJP’s current president Amit Shah said the Indian government would give “a befitting reply” to the shelling that the Indian government alleged was started by Pakistan. While the fiery speeches might reflect domestic concerns – the BJP faces tough competition from the ruling National Conference party in local elections next month – they have had an adverse impact on Pakistani diplomatic efforts, which have been discouraged by what they see as a lack of reciprocation.
Modi also seems to be more preoccupied with his other campaign promise, making India a global power. Since he became prime minister, Modi has made significant efforts to improve relations with the United States, Japan, China and most recently Australia, where he recently attended the G-20 summit. Given that his stated priority is improving and liberalizing India’s economy, Modi may have concluded that spending precious political capital on Pakistan is useless unless Pakistan is fully committed to peace, which it simply cannot be as long as its military is interfering in politics. Given India’s superior military and its significant presence in Kashmir, and given the relative infrequency of terror attacks, Modi perhaps believes that India can afford to ignore Pakistan for the time being while he focuses on bagging trade deals and investment contracts from elsewhere.
Persistent Tensions
The tensions come at a time when other links between the two countries are growing. Numerous Pakistani television and movie stars have crossed over the border to find sustained commercial success in Indian movies; musicians perform to packed audiences, and Bollywood remains ever-popular in Pakistan. Citizens on both sides make regular cross-border visits. Even the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded to Malala Yousufzai and Kailash Satyarthi, a Pakistani and an Indian. (Malala invited both Sharif and Modi to attend the ceremony in Oslo.)
The two governments, however, remain immune to this bonhomie. The impasse comes at a inopportune time. Climate change threatens precious water resources India and Pakistan share, as well as the ability of both countries to feed their citizens. Despite (or perhaps because of) India’s heavy military presence, Kashmir continues to simmer, always close to boiling over. As NATO forces leave Afghanistan, regional powers including Iran, China, Pakistan and India jostle for influence. With both Indian and Pakistani military budgets – and nuclear stockpiles – increasing, South Asia is heading towards a nuclear arms race, endangering the stability of the region and its economic integration. All of these issues have direct repercussions for South Asia’s security and well-being, and will require concerted and protracted negotiation and cooperation. In the current circumstances, that seems very unlikely.
Saim Saeed is a journalist working at The Express Tribune in Karachi, Pakistan. His work has been published in the New York Times, Al Jazeera America, and The American Interest.

Increasing Capabilities of South Asian Nukes

Tactical nuclear weapons in South Asia

Nuclear Range of the Agni VI Missile

Nuclear Range of the Agni VI Missile

The threat of nuclear terrorism in South Asia has resumed a greater profile as India and Pakistan continue to maintain a large number of nuclear facilities. The recent hostile attitude of Mr Modi’s government towards Pakistan once again put the process of peace and stability in the region at a spike. India has developed various types of tactical nuclear weapons that have threatened the security of the region. The test of Pakistan’s ballistic missile, Nasr, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and India’s ballistic missile, Prahaar and others, complicated nuclear weapons race in South Asia. India’s tactical nuclear weapons are more dangerous than Pakistan’s. Indian nuclear missiles like Agni-I, Agni-III, VI and V present a bigger threat to the national security of the subcontinent. India has also launched various military and surveillance satellites to enter into an anti-satellite weapons and ballistic missile defence race with China.

India’s ballistic missile Agni-VI’s range is believed to be 10,000 kilometres. This missile can target North Korea, Japan, China and Russia, while its new ballistic missile range is more than 15,000 kilometres, which can target North America. There are speculations in the international press that India is planning to embark on a covert uranium enrichment project to produce thermonuclear weapons. India is desperately seeking modern nuclear technologies to counter the threat of Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons. The country has signed nuclear deals with France, Mongolia, the US, Namibia and Kazakhstan

The two states operate in a strategically competitive triangle that includes China. India is also a bigger challenge for China by developing nuclear missiles to achieve a strategic deterrent against that country. As a strong state, India has adopted a very hostile attitude and continues to create more difficulties for Pakistan and other neighbours. The 2008 Mumbai and the Line of Control incidents prompted deep distrust between the two states. In June 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a stern warning to Pakistan: “I had told you on television that this is not Manmohan Singh’s government, it is Narendra Modi’s government. If you do something, we will also do but we cannot sit quiet.”

Indian Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad criticised Pakistan and its support to extremist groups across the border. Mr Ravi Shankar demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. However, Pakistan-based terrorist groups used the same language against Mr Modi’s government. In its video message, an extremist group, Ansar-ul-Tawheed fi Belad Hind (Brotherhood for Monotheism in India) warned Mr Modi of retaliation for the Gujarat massacre. Moreover, India cancelled its talks with Pakistan on the pretext that Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Delhi had met Kashmiri Hurriyet leaders. The suspension of talks set off alarm bells in the US and China that are stakeholders in the relationship between both the states.

When Pakistani High Commissioner to India Mr Abdul Basit met a Kashmiri separatist leader without the consent of India, it further inflamed Mr Modi’s colleagues in parliament. During his Kashmir visit, Prime Minister Modi made a strong statement against Pakistan. In his Laddakh visit, Mr Modi said the Indian armed forces were suffering more casualties from terrorism than from any war. Mr Modi said that Pakistan continued to support a proxy war against India. Moreover, various politicians in India have issued irresponsible statements against Pakistan, creating a hostile environment in the region. In military circles, India’s new army chief, Dalbir Singh Suhag, also issued a stern warning to Pakistan and said that Pakistan is unable to intercept cross-border infiltration.

Experts of tactical nuclear weapons in South Asia understand that the ruction between the two states could pave the way for a nuclear crisis in the region. We understand that India and Pakistan are deeply concerned over the threat of nuclear terrorism or the use of nuclear improvised explosive devices but there are reports that they have adopted some professional security measures recently that may help prevent terrorists gaining access to their installations. Currently, Pakistan is deeply embroiled in its internal economic and security problems, and there are possibilities of India’s provocation over the issue of Kashmir. In these circumstances, extremist groups in Pakistan could start nuclear terrorism in South Asia.

The future of the nuclear weapons race between Pakistan and India is precarious as both states continue to develop modern tactical nuclear weapons. India has established its military bases in Afghanistan. On October 5, 2013, the foreign secretary of Pakistan said, “We have appraised India of our concerns on terrorism. If India has apprehensions about Pakistan then we have more apprehensions than India,” he said.

As the situation is going to deteriorate in the region, India and Pakistan need to resume talks on all issues including the Line of Control and tactical nuclear weapons. They need to work with each other on these issues that could spark an abrupt nuclear war in South Asia. Notwithstanding all efforts of the international community to help secure the nuclear weapons of both states, and as nuclear facilities and infrastructure have grown, there are concerns that security measures may not be sufficient to protect their nuclear and biological installations. We hope that the involvement of the international community, particularly the US and China, will help to professionalise the security measures of their nuclear and biological weapons. These efforts are considered to be more effective if they also strengthen the mechanism of cooperation. Their cooperation against non-state actors or extremist groups trying to gain access to radiological and nuclear weapons might help their nuclear forces in building an effective security infrastructure around their nuclear installations.
The writer is author of The Crisis of Britain’s Surveillance State. He can be reached at