An advanced sea-to-sea variant of the BrahMos Supersonic Cruise missile is test-fired from the Visakhapatnam, an Indian navy ship, Jan. 11, 2022. [Photo courtesy Defense Research and Development Organization @DRDO_India via Twitter]
An advanced sea-to-sea variant of the BrahMos Supersonic Cruise missile is test-fired from the Visakhapatnam, an Indian navy ship, Jan. 11, 2022. [Photo courtesy Defense Research and Development Organization @DRDO_India via Twitter]
The nuclear capability of Pakistan is purely security based and depends upon the changing technological developments in the region. Pakistan maintains a posture of credible minimum deterrence and ensures strategic stability in the region. However, India continually pushes Pakistan towards arms race, by the development and induction of new aggressive technology, and incorporation of offensive doctrines.
The proliferation of supersonic and hypersonic weapons, which is echoing in South Asia, could be disastrous for the regional peace and stability. Ever since the mass nuclear power has been invented, the deterrence stability in the region is maintained by keeping the mutual vulnerability intact, which India tries its best to sabotage. The introduction of supersonic and hypersonic weapons could be devastating as it travels with immensely high speed, and the enemy can’t be certain whether it is carrying conventional or non-conventional weapon, hence the chances and risks of nuclear war manifolds.
Recently, Atul Rane, CEO and MD, BrahMos Aerospace said that in five to six years, India will be able to have the first hypersonic missile. Moreover, India has also tested the Supersonic missile assisted torpedo (SMART), which indicates the continuous modernization of its technology. Owing to the volatile situation in south Asia, with the absence of any conflict resolution treaties and agreements, the innovation in technology in South Asia leads to the change in the nuclear doctrines a swell. Pakistan maintains a policy of minimum credible deterrence, but that minimum is directly proportional to the advancements made by the adversary in offensive technology and ultimately in the nuclear doctrine.
The Indian posture of NFU is also questionable, as the statements from the defence minister of India comes otherwise. The recent development indicates India’s move towards a counterforce targeting, which is a highly destabilizing factor for south Asia. The Indian military modernization is far exceeding the ‘minimum’ in minimum credible deterrence, and there is no reasonable justification of credible and minimum in the recent developments. Such doctrines only exist when a country prepares for the offensive first strike targeting and pre-emption strikes, hence leading to a full scale war.
The recent BrahMos Misfire incident into the Pakistan territory indicates the weak command and control structure of India. This is signaling as it indicates India’s poor handling of such sensitive technology. This irresponsible behavior of India needs to be changed as it could result in disastrous consequences. Pakistan has always made efforts for restoring regional peace and stability, which India has always tried to destabilize due to its immature ruling authority. The political elite has always used the aggressive war-prone card against Pakistan in front of public for their political gains, without realizing the repercussions, which shows the ill-mindset of India’s ruling power. Moreover, the world has seen numerous instances of Uranium theft in India, which indicates weak safety and security protocols and weak Command and Control structure in India to handle such precarious technology.
The Indian obsession of acquisition of newer technology could result in the accidental or inadvertent war in South Asia, provided its unproven capability to manage it and war-prone behavior. This shows India being an irresponsible nuclear weapon state and the international community should look into this child state that is incompetent to take-up with nuclear and nuclear-related technology and delivery vehicles, and is thus a threat to the regional and global peace and security.
India doesn’t have any security concern for which it is going for the acquisition of hypersonic weapons or change in doctrine. It doesn’t have any potent threat from the neighboring countries to go for such ventures; hence, the drive is totally out of the prestige factor, as India wants to come at par with US, Russia and China in leading world technologies, without realizing the effect of such technologies on the regional stability. India needs to withdraw its hegemonic ambitions if the stability and regional peace is required or if the arms race needs to be withheld. As a responsible nuclear weapon state, Pakistan always maintains a modest nuclear posture, and any military development is the part of strategic chain in the south Asia, and or because of its allies.
Sharif said the media has not yet questioned whether it was a decision made in the White House or the US NSC. He added that it could be a state-level decision by President Joe Biden, who was part of the Project for the New American Century which led to various US-backed regime-change operations worldwide post-2001, including Iraq.
Discussing the internal factors, he said it all comes down to egoistic individuals, institutions, and their political interests. “Who thinks for Pakistan? Are we only going to think about the individuals, or just institutions that have a bad ego?”
“Was Imran Khan thinking of Pakistan or protecting individuals’ interests? What kind of media narratives were shaped during the regime change conspiracy? Individuals and institutions dominated them, while the media remained silent about the interests of the country.”
He claimed that lawfare – the weaponisation of legal instruments for political ends – was a part of this regime-change operation and the media actively reported it.
Reiterating President Dr. Arif Alvi’s stance, Sharif said we have to find out “the smoking gun in the hand of the conspirator” involved in the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and who was behind Imran Khan’s ouster.
He said during the peak of the cold war, Pakistan became a part of the US camp and joined SEATO and CENTO. Later, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was deposed in a military coup by his appointed army chief Zia-ul-Haq, before being controversially tried and sentenced to death in 1978.
In 1999, he said the US had already planned wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. He said the TTP was infused in Pakistan, which was dragged into a war of terror. He said Pakistan’s nuclear weapon saved it from attack.
However, he said, during the Musharraf era, Pakistan finally walked into the war against terrorism, and the rest is history. He pointed out that all the dictatorships ended through popular uprisings, like the emergence of PPP or the Lawyers Movement. But he said there was always a hybrid democratic system.
He noted that the 2018-2022 era in Pakistani politics stands out based on its “authoritarian consolidation” and accountability. But in a presser, Maryam Nawaz talked about some “videos,” and the accountability process slowed down, and Nawaz Sharif was sent to the UK.
Discussing the role of media in shaping the narrative during the regime-change conspiracy, he said the press implemented a 3-D strategy against the PTI government: disrupt, discredit, and deny.
He raised a question that when Imran Khan was ousted from office late at night after losing a no-confidence vote, who ordered a police van to be stationed outside the PM house, adding that Sheikh Rashid – the then interior minister – did not do so.
Criticising the Red Zone Files, Sharif said the debates in print and electronic media during the “regime change” operation focused on institutions and individuals rather than on constitutional framework or business rules. “Do we want the country to be ruled by law or by individuals?”
The journalist claimed that on April 9 or 10, the media was directed to deny space to PTI, adding that the journalists who raised their voices were thrown out of their channels, including Imran Riaz Khan.
He said those who filed FIRs against the journalists and PTI members are following the same old ‘playbook.’ He said the problem, however, is that they cannot find the corruption cases and have to resort to terrorism charges.
Sharif claimed that he was also asked to do a show on Imran Khan’s corruption, to which he said, “Imran Khan did not even waste half a bottle of water, how can you expect to find or allege corruption cases against him.”
Only a sustained and united national effort can extricate Pakistan from this dangerous situation
Pakistan is confronted by a Perfect Storm — the lethal combination of toxic internal and external developments that are inextricably linked to pose grave challenges to its security and stability. Only a sustained and united national effort can extricate Pakistan from this dangerous situation.
Internally, Pakistan has become completely polarised. No ground exists for dialogue and compromise, even on national security issues. This political instability has generated an economic meltdown with hyper-inflation, soaring debt, depleting resources and increasing unemployment. Longer term problems — global warming, water scarcity, food shortages and a ballooning population — make the situation even more untenable.
Externally, the growing confrontation between the major powers poses serious challenges, especially to relations with the US. Washington views Pakistan’s alliance with China and differences with India as obstacles to the Indo-US strategic partnership against China, since this undermines India’s role as America’s ‘Net Security Provider’. Washington has also opposed CPEC, describing it as a ‘debt trap’, to undermine the Pakistan-China relations. Even more significantly, the Americans want Pakistan’s strategic capabilities to be unilaterally restrained if not rolled back. In the worst case scenario, political instability in Pakistan can be used as an excuse to try and take control of Pakistan’s nuclear assets, for which the US already has contingency plans, requiring Pakistan to take necessary security measures. The relationship has also soured due to the American defeat in Afghanistan for which Pakistan is blamed. Since Pakistan will not compromise on any of these key issues, there can be no substantive improvement in bilateral relations. No amount of sycophancy or appeasement on Pakistan’s part can change this reality.
Similarly, relations with India face a dead end. Seeking regional hegemony, an increasingly powerful India with American support is in no mood to compromise with Pakistan. On the contrary, Modi’s revanchist India seeks to further weaken Pakistan and dreams of absorbing Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Modi government’s repression of Indian Muslims and denigration of Islam is a further indicator of his belligerence. The only restraining factor on Indian aggression is Pakistan’s nuclear capability. In this situation, no dialogue let alone trade is a realistic possibility.
Meanwhile, India is promoting TTP and Baloch terrorists, operating from ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan, to destabilise Pakistan and target Chinese interests in Pakistan to derail the Pakistan-China relationship. India is also taking unprecedented steps to normalise relations with the Afghan Taliban, using financial and material incentives to reestablish Indian influence while sowing dissensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Quite possibly, the US supports these Indian tactics.
Further pressure on Pakistan is being applied through tough IMF bailout conditionalities, denial of western assistance, FATF grey-listing and opposition to Pakistan’s engagement with Russia and Iran.
While Pakistan’s internal and external challenges are formidable, they are not insurmountable. To tackle them requires, first and foremost, political stability. Only a government that has the widest national support can have the mandate to take the tough decisions ahead on the basis of a consensual national agenda. On the economic front, a band-aid short term approach based on IMF bailouts and foreign assistance can only provide temporary reprieve. The only solution is sustainable economic growth achieved through a long term strategy for structural reforms, ending the elite capture of the economy, closing the revenue and expenditure gap, broadening the tax base by including the agriculture and retail sectors and by ending tax evasions. Corruption and inefficiency also need to be overcome through speedy, transparent and impartial judicial measures. Energy imports need to be substituted by domestic resources such as coal, gas, hydro power, nuclear energy and renewable sources. Privatisation of hemorrhaging public sector corporations must also be fast-tracked. And investments ought to be made in scientific and technical education including skills development to take advantage of the youth bulge in the population.
On the external front, an unambiguous decision must be made on choosing our security and development partners. Clearly, the only country that is willing and able to assist us is China, which is not only a major world power but also the engine for future global growth. Unfortunately, Pakistan has been sending mixed signals to the Chinese, failing to match words with deeds. The highest priority should be given to ensuring the security of Chinese interests in Pakistan. Obstacles to the implementation of CPEC must be removed. Perfidious criticism of the Pakistan-China relationship, both from within and abroad, needs to be effectively countered.
Now opportunities for engagement should also be explored with Russia, inspite of the Western pressure against such cooperation. These countries are themselves engaging with Russia despite their stance on the Ukraine war to obtain Russian oil and gas. Despite its strategic alliance with the US, India is also purchasing cheaper Russian oil and wheat. There is no reason why Pakistan should not do the same.
China and Russia can also cooperate with Pakistan to promote regional connectivity between South, West and Central Asia as well as to ensure stability in Afghanistan. These are interests shared by Iran. Since the Saudis and Iranians are themselves seeking reconciliation, Pakistan-Saudi relations should no longer restrain Pakistan’s relations with Iran.
Certainly there will be American opposition to Pakistan’s cooperation with China, Russia and Iran, with possible imposition of sanctions in response. However, the Americans are neither willing nor capable of offering viable alternatives. Besides, there is no American assistance available for Pakistan, thereby limiting their capability for punitive action.
Essentially, it is the pro-American mindset among Pakistan’s elite that has prevented a paradigm shift from reliance on the US towards the other major powers. But a determined pursuit of Pakistan’s long term national interests requires such a vital transition. This does not necessarily require abandoning relations with the US but seeking alternative opportunities for Pakistan’s security and development.
It will only be through pursuing such far-sighted internal and external policies that Pakistan can eventually weather the perfect storm that it is confronting. The process will be difficult and huge sacrifices will have to be made. Still there is no other option before the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2022.
India-Pakistan tensions ‘likely to explode’ says expert
One of the most pressing effects of the climate crisis is instability in water supplies, as a warming planet brings about more erratic rainfall and severe droughts. However, this lack of water security has even led to conflicts around the world, as more than 200 water-related violent conflicts took place in the past three years, according to data from the Pacific Institute.
However, an expert has warned that these water disputes, which usually involve local conflicts, could soon escalate to full-blown civil uprisings and even nuclear war.
Dario Soto Abril, Executive Secretary at the Global Water Partnership (GWP) stressed the importance of considering water security as a matter of national security.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “Obviously, we’re always talking about water security in terms of having enough access for livelihoods, for economic development, and sustainable agriculture and ecosystem, but water security is an essential matter of national security.
“Not having water security creates economic uncertainty because water is connected to agriculture and manufacturing.
“So lack of water would reduce the economic intake of the country of the region.”
He noted that the lack of water could then create instability within a country at an internal, creating internal tensions, and “civil uprisings which will create conflicts within the country”.
He warned that migration could be another impact of water scarcity, as large populations move to Europe or the US.
He said: “If people have no water security in the region, they will most likely come to Europe or the US.
“That is another reason why water security is connected to national security.”
One example he highlighted of a recent conflict that took place in Ethiopia in 2020, after Egyptian hackers launched a cyber attack on Ethiopian water systems.
On the hackers’ Facebook page, they voiced Egyptian opposition to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile.
According to the Pacific Institute, the attack was carried out as the reservoir behind the dam is being filled despite there being a lack of an agreement between Egypt and Ethiopia.
India, Pakistan seem to be increasing size of nuclear weapon inventories, says arms watchdog
On Jun 13, 2022
Stockholm: India and Pakistan also seem to be increasing the size of their nuclear weapon inventories, a leading arms watchdog has said.
At the start of 2022, nine states — the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea –possessed approximately 12,705 nuclear weapons, of which 9,440 were estimated to be in military stockpiles for potential use.
About 3,732 of these warheads were estimated to be deployed with operational forces, and around 2,000 of these were kept in a state of high operational alert.
In its annual report published on Monday, the Stockholm International Peace Research (SIPRI) said that all nine nuclear-armed countries are increasing or upgrading their arsenals, Al Jazeera reported.
Overall, the number of nuclear warheads in the world continues to decline, but this is primarily due to Russia and the USA dismantling retired warheads. Global reductions of operational warheads appear to have stalled, and their numbers may be rising again. At the same time, both Russia and the USA have extensive and expensive programmes underway to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile, and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities, SIPRI said.
The nuclear arsenals of the other nuclear-armed states are considerably smaller, but all are either developing or deploying new weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so. China is in the middle of a significant modernization and expansion of its nuclear arsenal, which appears to include the construction of over 300 new missile silos. India and Pakistan also seem to be increasing the size of their nuclear weapon inventories, while in 2021 the UK announced its intention to increase its nuclear stockpile, SIPRI said in a report.
“There are clear indications that the reductions that have characterised global nuclear arsenals since the end of the Cold War have ended,” said Hans Kristensen, associate senior fellow with SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme and director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Al Jazeera reported.
This is the only region in the world where three nuclear-armed states share controversial and often violent borders, and where two nuclear powers – India and Pakistan – have launched air strikes on each other’s territories. All three powers are investing massively in their armed forces, deepening their border defenses and expanding their nuclear arsenals and delivery systems. While we hope that these investments will increase deterrence and encourage restraint, we consider the opposite to be more likely.
Fortunately, in stark contrast to Vladimir Putin, the leaders of China, India and Pakistan all seem to appreciate the risks and costs of war. No one is hell-bent on territorial conquest, at least not yet. That said, nationalism is a potent force throughout the region, and one that these states are likely to find easier to incite than limit.
The deterrence logic also dictates that Beijing, Islamabad and New Delhi experience huge costs of looking weak along their borders. The fear of encouraging adventurousness or bullying of neighbors makes nations more likely to escalate strife in ways that risk turning smaller skirmishes into big fights. In 2019, terrorist attacks in India, claimed by a Pakistani-based device, triggered retaliatory airstrikes into Pakistan, followed by Pakistani reprisals in India. In 2020, deadly hand-to-hand combat between Indian and Chinese border patrols caused both sides to send tanks and artillery in close contact on high mountain plateaus. These heavy forces are no longer facing each other, but they remain stationed near the border in high alert and can accelerate the escalation of the next China-India flare-up. Accidents, such as the misfire in March 2022 of an Indian hypersonic cruise missile into Pakistani territory, add unpredictability to the mix.
US interests in the region are also changing. Like its recent predecessors, the Biden administration views India as an important strategic partner in intensifying geopolitical competition with China. Washington may have no direct stake in the specific solution to the China-India border dispute, but it has a clear and stated interest in India’s security and in deterring Chinese territorial aggression.
That said, when New Delhi responds to attacks inside India backed by Pakistan-based terrorists or to cross-border aggression from Beijing, US support for India should be structured to reduce the risk of crisis escalation and lay the groundwork for greater stability rather than faster regional arms race.
As China moves closer to Pakistan, India must take the prospect of a two-front crisis seriously, whether it is because Beijing and Islamabad coordinate their moves, because they opportunistically seize the advantage of India’s distracted focus, or out of sheer coincidence. Paradoxically, by moving closer to India, the United States is accentuating Pakistani perceptions of American abandonment and raising China’s alert to what Beijing perceives as a budding alliance with China, which is driving Beijing and Islamabad even closer.
To play a constructive role in the midst of such complicated regional relations and sometimes conflicting U.S. goals, U.S. policy makers should begin working to better anticipate and respond to potential nuclear crises in South Asia. The intelligence community should be asked to perform routine game exercises; the administration should develop a generalized policy handbook for India-Pakistan, China-India and overlapping China-India-Pakistan crises; and insights from these planning documents should be shared with future senior officials in relevant U.S. government agencies, embassies, and combatant commands.
Washington should also work to improve real-time information sharing capabilities and crisis communication networks with and among all three nuclear states in South Asia. U.S. intelligence and police officials should be prepared to share information with regional actors – and publicly, if necessary – to combat misinformation in cases where it may prevent or de-escalate a conflict. They should continue and step up their efforts to help New Delhi improve the resilience of its information and communication channels to cyber and other threats and build on intelligence-sharing initiatives with India. U.S. diplomats should also coordinate with trusted third parties, such as the United Kingdom, France, and the UAE, so that they can serve as intermediaries and honest mediators in future crises.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s not so veiled nuclear threats is a timely reminder that the nuclear taboo cannot be taken for granted. Even as this war continues, Washington should not lose sight of its frightening consequences for South Asia, or underestimate how an escalation of the region’s smoldering territorial conflicts between heavily armed nuclear states could quickly move from a spark to a devastating fire.
Factors increasing both countries’ confrontational risks include the war in Ukraine, rivalries with China and Russia, climate change and pandemics
Why look at India and Pakistan when much of the world is focused on Ukraine? Because of the possibility of the war in Ukraine escalating to the point where the Russians choose to use a nuclear weapon: This would most likely be for tactical gain and psychological effect to force the Ukrainian Government to sue for “peace”.
Yet, if such were to happen, it would be the first time since World War II that nuclear weapons have been used in a conflict since they were successfully banned 75 years ago. It would change the boundaries of confrontation, conceivably forever, as other countries might be encouraged to consider using their nuclear power, and, among the (still) restricted group that has it, India and Pakistan are among those most inclined to do so.
Nuclear weapons analysts estimate that there are currently nine nuclear states — China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, and these numbers are likely to grow.
The Saudis have not sworn off nuclear weapons and are the largest funders of Pakistan, which became a nuclear state primarily because the Netherlands allowed a nuclear physicist working at the Urenco labs in the Netherlands, Dr. Abdul Quadeer Khan, to take the blueprints of the Dutch nuclear enrichment and centrifuge technology and develop the Pakistani program.
Three countries “voluntarily” gave up their nuclear capability, namely South Africa, Libya, and Ukraine.
With respect to these latter two, their histories probably would be very different today if they had not done so. They serve as warnings for other countries that might think about giving up such capacity.
Overall, few regions of the world– maybe South America– are currently “nuclear arms-free” if you will
A Russian breach of the ban will have implications for all other nuclear-capable or “wannabe” countries, especially those facing confrontation with neighbors—which are nearly all countries.
South Asia is very much such a region with India and Pakistan both nuclear-armed, and with the three largest nuclear powers, China, Russia, and the United States having clients, and chosen sides. Then there is the neighboring failed island state of Sri Lanka, in default and with a history of civil war that had drawn its neighbors into its disputes in the past.
Everywhere, but surely here, the costs and availability of food, fertilizer, fuel, and access to concessional financing, along with an ongoing Covid pandemic, have created very difficult challenges for any government.
Into this mix are the political and religious differences between India and Pakistan (and China), and religious divide and territorial disputes over Kashmir, which have brought them in the past to armed conflict and lingering mistrust.
India and Pakistan never-ending disputes, plus China and Russia in the mix
Unlike India, Pakistan has never declared a No First Use policy and has proceeded to emphasize smaller battlefield or “tactical” nuclear weapons as a counter to India’s larger and superior conventional forces.
Even a small nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan could kill 20 million people in a week.
If a nuclear winter is triggered, nearly 2 billion people in the developing world would be at risk of death by starvation.
India and Pakistan are at odds on many fronts but certainly exacerbated by religious differences, in each case supported by large political majorities, and ultra-national sub-groups, which morph into exclusionary national identity.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been actively persuading India’s 80% Hindu population that they are under threat—and will only prosper if they support the ideology of Hindutva or Hindu nationalism.
Recent public comments on air by a high-level BJP official disparaging the Prophet Muhammad have exploded across the Moslem world. Despite efforts to distance itself, the actions taken may not be enough to quell what is a diplomatic crisis for India’s relations with countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.
For its external big power support, recently India has moved its alliances more to the United States, and away from Russia, its past primary military hardware supplier.
Pakistan, on the other hand, is officially the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” the second-largest primarily Sunni Muslim population in the world. A new Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif was elected in April 2022 and in his first address said, “he will expedite the multibillion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and rebuild broken ties with partners and allies.”
Pakistan’s ties to China go back to the time China chose sides in the 2019 India-Pakistan dispute when India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy in August 2019 and sought to incorporate parts of “Xinjiang and Tibet into its Ladakh union territory,” which China considered violating its own dominion of Tibet.
On its parallel track, Pakistan strengthened its relations with Russia, which has continued despite international condemnation of its invasion of Ukraine. An alliance with Russia had been agreed to by former governments, and now goes forward with the Pakistan Stream Gas Project, also known as the North-South gas pipeline, a multi-billion effort to be built with Russian financing and in collaboration with their companies.
In short, territorial, and ethnic tensions remain high, the two countries have chosen different global “sugar daddies,” with both having significant nuclear arsenals.
Not a promising picture for peace.
Two other factors adding to nuclear risks: climate change and pandemics
India and Pakistan are located in a part of the world that is particularly exposed to the threats of climate change and given huge populations and poor health systems are vulnerable to the spread of infectious diseases.
Here is what you can expect in terms of impacts on both countries.
South Asia Feels the Heat: On most climate maps, this is the hottest region on the planet. Scorching temperatures were already reached in March 2022 at degrees not usually happening until June.
This current heat wave in India and Pakistan is not a lone event; on the contrary, with the acceleration of global warming, it is estimated to be 30 times more likely than compared to preindustrial times. And it has led to a deep reduction in agricultural output, as wheat crops withered, and mango crops were lost, exacerbating food insecurity, and threatening Indians and Pakistanis with limited income.
Those at or near the poverty levels have limited alternatives to cooling themselves, with millions of villages without any access to basic electricity, and for those living in urban slums, many are too poor to afford it even if it were available.
Roop Singh, a climate risk adviser with the International Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center, makes the point that with more middle-income households having air conditioning, this means widespread power outages in part because the need for more cooling strains the electrical grids, and in part because of a coal shortage in India. “This is particularly impactful for people who might have access to a fan or to a cooler but might not be able to run it because they can’t afford a generator,” she said.
Medical and climate scientists have determined there is a “hard limit” when human tolerance is breached, the ‘wet-bulb’ temperature beyond which the human body is no longer viable. The wet-bulb temperature reflects not only heat but also how much water (humidity) is in the air.
“If the wet-bulb temperature reading is higher than our body temperature, that means that we cannot cool ourselves to a temperature tolerable for humans by evaporating sweat and that basically means you can’t survive,” said Tapio Schneider, a California Institute of Technology climate scientist and professor.
A recent Science Advances study found that some places have already experienced conditions too hot and humid for human survival, including Pakistan where there has been a wet-bulb temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. “That kind of temperature would make it impossible to sweat enough to avoid overheating, organ failure and eventual death.”
Even before reaching “hard limits” at “adaptation levels”, the impact of unbelievably high heat levels is increasingly threatening living conditions throughout South Asia.
Recalling the lessons in Gunnar Myrdal’s historical work “Asian Drama”, when large numbers of people and communities are incapable of dealing with daily life and it becomes intolerable and without hope, the inevitable consequence is that social peace disintegrates.
This translates into civil disorder and widespread popular anger directed at their leaders. And often when leaders are not able or unwilling to provide meaningful assistance, they evoke external threats (real or imagined) and blame outsiders as a way to both distract and unite their subjects.
When disastrous living conditions occur in both urban and rural areas, political leaders in weak governments look to external escapism politics, a scenario with a high realism index in today’s South-Asian sub-continent. And with an obvious fallout on Pakistan’s and India’s nuclear policies.
In South Asia, there was no official ongoing India–Pakistan, China–India, or China–Pakistan nuclear dialogue prior to Covid. The pandemic effectively stopped all in-person, non-official contacts which might have led to such engagement.
The pandemic and its accompanying worldwide panic shed light on why it is a mistake for governments to expend huge sums on building nuclear arsenals and war-fighting capabilities at the expense of basic economic and social needs.
The prospect of new variants of Covid-19, such as Omicron, and/or another potential readily transmissible virus underscores the fact that these can be very costly and destabilizing events, epidemics, and pandemics that undermine stability and even nations’ survival.
Covid infections in India– at least during the first two years– went massively unreported both in terms of morbidity and mortality. In Pakistan, both numbers were and have been considerably lower than its neighbor, but massive underreporting is likely there as well.
According to recent data, these figures in both countries have declined. As of April 2022 reported cases in Pakistan were down while inIndia, by the end of May 2022, an average of 2,574 cases per day were reported, withdeaths having decreased by 11 percent.
The reported drop in COVID-19 infection rates at present has meant less attention in the public space in both countries—at least for the moment.
Again, there is no assurance that new variants and a wave of infections will not happen, which could cumulatively add to inter-country political tensions, especially if there are accusations that new infections came from across the border.
Overwhelming heat currently affecting South Asia means that tens of millions are living with very harmful dehydration, exhaustion, food insecurity, and the possibility of added infectious disease from the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Such conditions potentially pose a level of political unrest which very well may influence the political class of these two nuclear countries.
With fanatic groups on both sides of their borders looking for ways to undermine stability, it will not take much for either India or Pakistan leaders to feel pressed to react, then counter-react, each step bringing them to the brink of choosing nuclear.
Let us hope such a tipping point is never reached, that both cooler weather and heads prevail
Developments in Pakistan cannot be ignored as something which is a country-specific problem. Before and after the ouster of Imran Khan’s government in early April, Pakistan has been on a roller coaster ride with no idea where it would land, and this would have serious repercussions for its immediate neighbours in particular and the world at large. Pakistan’s biggest advantage of its geo-strategic location in South Asia also is its bane, that’s why the world should be worried about what is happening over there.
There is now direct clash between the political class( es) and the establishment, which unmistakably is read as army, having its control over the domestic and foreign policies – sometimes it is in the open, and on other occasions maneuvering is done behind the façade of the civilian leadership. Imran Khan has been particularly critical of the army and has even warned that if it failed to act, the country may disintegrate and the nuclear power status would also be at risk. This is blasphemy in Pakistan, where nuclear weapons have been sanctified and above any criticism. Imran has violated that sanctity in Pakistan , and the result is that army spokespersons have warned him and others who have dragged the establishment into the middle of their political battles. There have been many direct attacks and insinuations by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaaf ( PTI) and also by the ruling alliance’s leading partner Pakistan Muslim League ( Nawaz) or PML-N. The leading light of PML ( N) Maryam Nawaz, also information and broadcasting minister has been no less harsh on the role of the army. However, her grudge is against the former ISI chief Faiz Hameed, whom she accused not only being eyes and ears of Imran Khan but also “ hands though which political opponents were throttled.”
Confrontation between the government and opposition is escalating. Imran Khan’s “ Long March” on Islamabad may have failed for various reasons, ranging from low attendance to the government action against protestors before and after the “ march, but former Prime Minister continues to target the coalition government led by his bête noire Shehbaz Sharif. He has got more ammunition to fire at the government, in addition to his “ conspiracy and collaborators “ theory, which he alleges was responsible for his ouster. the fuel prices have gone up, food shortage is staring at the country and the inflation is in a long and high jump mode. The government has nothing to defend itself, except blaming the Khan government’s legacy of insolvency that it inherited. But that is not convincing for the commoners who think differently from the corridors of power.
Such is the alarming nature of the crisis that some of the Pakistan watchers have forecasted intervention of the army to put a lid on the troubles rocking the country. These scenarios are fraught with dangerous consequences – one, it would mean the reversal of the revival of democracy since the 2008 elections after a nearly- decade long military dictatorship under Gen. Pervez Musharraf, secondly, the army is not having any magic wand to pull the country of the economic collapse in which it has landed because of the political turmoil, mal-governance and strategy deficit. Loans by friendly countries like China and Saudi Arabia, or by international organisations like International Monetary Fund are not charities. Those are to be paid back. Given the current economic situation in the country, Pakistan is in no position to pay back the loansu, rather the bitter truth is that it cannot survive without getting more financial support from these countries or the international organizations. The army, too, would be cautious in taking over in these times when it knows that costs are far heavier than the benefits. That will lead to further drifting.
Why should world be worried? Pakistan is not an ordinary country, in a sense that it is home to what it itself admits to “non-state actors”- read terrorists and terror groups, be that Jamat-ul- Dawa of Hafiz Saeed, the front for Lashkar-e-Taiba , Masood Azhar’s Jaish-e-Mohammad and so on. These groups have been staging attacks on Indian soil, especially in Kashmir. There also are groups active in the border areas close to Afghanistan. the skirmishes between Afghan and Pakistan’s security forces have escalated into full-fledged mini-wars. The conflict is raging on. This means highly destabilizing forces are at work in Pakistan and Afghanistan. That is a recipe for the disaster. The origin of 9/11 was this belt and if terrorism flourishes, it is bad news for the world and particularly in South Asia, the region in which Pakistan is located. India has to worry more: the country has been on the target list of terrorist groups. Of all hues. India will have to be watchful, but it is also a universal phenomenon that terrorists retain element to surprise. Pakistan might be grappling with its problems of catastrophic nature but when it comes to advancing anti-India activities, it has a huge kitty of drug money.
With China breathing down in eastern Ladakh, the Indian army is overstretched, and it would find it difficult to get right things all the time. So, Pakistan’s internal issues would not take long to escalate and impact the neighbourhood.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – General Nadeem Raza, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), has stressed that people should avoid making baseless and unnecessary comments about Pakistan’s nuclear program.
“Pakistan is a responsible and confident nuclear country,” said the deputy chairman of the National Command Authority at a seminar at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad on Monday.