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Nukes' seventh anniversary -IV - South Asia's misfortunes (M B Naqvi)

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    The News International June 6, 2005 Nukes seventh anniversary-IV South Asia s misfortunes PLAIN WORDS M B Naqvi The writer is a well-known journalist and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 5, 2005
      The News International
      June 6, 2005

      Nukes' seventh anniversary-IV
      South Asia's misfortunes


      M B Naqvi

      The writer is a well-known journalist and freelance columnist.

      South Asia's future has been jeopardized by the
      Indian and Pakistani nukes, politically and
      possibly physically, depending upon whether there
      will be a nuclear war between the two. India and
      Pakistan's neighbours have no option but to
      helplessly wait for what will happen. Nepal,
      Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan resent
      being adversely affected whether there is a war
      or not.

      The misfortunes non-nuclear countries continue to
      face, even if there is no war, have to do with
      the function of mistrust between India and
      Pakistan. The current deluge of protocol goodwill
      and fomenting a feel good factor by the two
      governments -- under American prodding -- has not
      removed their mistrust. Which South Asian country
      can ignore it? Their worry is reasonable.

      Pakistani nuclear missiles are ready to be fired
      at Indian targets. If they are fired, a few
      cities in India will be incinerated. And it will
      take only a few minutes to destroy Pakistan if
      the Indian nukes are fired in this direction.
      Neither side will have the time for defensives
      measures. During the east-west cold war, there
      were 27 minutes available for decisions. Both
      sides could read blips on their radars as
      missiles or geese or some debris. In South Asia,
      a missile's flying time to its target is 3 to 5
      minutes. No government can react in this
      timeframe and the scope for misunderstanding,
      wrong calculations and unauthorized launches by
      power-hungry groups or terrorists in both
      countries cannot be ignored.

      Even if there is no war between the two
      adversaries and the present no-peace-no-war
      situation continues, South Asians' future remains
      compromised -- because the Indo-Pakistan mistrust
      pre-empts optimal regional cooperation. The fact
      is India and Pakistan have to remain at
      hair-trigger alert. And if war does break out,
      some radioactivity is bound to fall on
      neighbours, who will suffer for no fault of their
      own. For non-nuclear South Asians, both sets of
      nukes are a misfortune, requiring efforts to
      destroy them.

      Some argue that EU is an example of regional
      cooperation and integration to follow. Two EU
      members are nuclear powers, France and Britain.
      What is the rationale for the French and British
      nukes? Apart from national grandeur or the desire
      to sit at the high table, the French and the
      British nukes are a strategic insurance policy
      against the resurrection of German power. The
      Anglo-French nukes only make sense if Germany's
      aggressive instincts are assumed a priori.

      Modern Germany accepts this Anglo-French
      apprehension and has chosen against ever becoming
      a nationalist or isolationist power. It has
      consciously anchored its revival in European
      entity -- away from pan-Germanic ideas that led
      to three aggressions uptil 1939. Germany is happy
      to stay non-nuclear; Germans see their future in
      peace and look upon French and British nukes with
      part-unconcern and part-curiosity. So the EU
      example clearly does not apply to South Asia.

      Here, unlike Europe, the two nuclear powers look
      upon each other as bitter adversaries. About
      India there may still be a few illusions that
      once it becomes a world power with American
      support: it may still promote peace in Asia by
      cultivating Russia, China and other Central
      Asians simultaneously. Insofar as Pakistan is
      concerned, it has yoked itself irretrievably to
      the USA. It will do what America wants, without
      ifs and buts. Since both countries listen to the
      USA with respect, they will be able to put in
      place many more confidence building measures
      (CBMs), while the main disputes may remain
      unresolved. Such a situation is fundamentally
      unstable: some public relations-oriented cultural
      exchanges may coexist with no basic change of

      Other South Asians need to exhibit their
      preference for peace: one that promotes
      rapprochement between India and Pakistan, based
      on a resolution of disputes -- Kashmir, nukes and
      dams. Without resolving disputes, the resumption
      of hostile propaganda is just waiting to happen.
      Both are capable of resuming confrontation. India
      and Pakistan being differently oriented, how can
      South Asians read the deepening of d├ętente by
      CBMs as making Pakistan and India lasting
      friends? Why does a true Indo-Pakistan
      rapprochement look difficult? Obviously what
      stands in the way, are serious disputes.

      This exposes the current peace process as
      shallow. Why? Because it leaves out basic and
      highly emotional disputes. Thus fears of a
      possible war are not unwarranted in the rest of
      South Asia. It is for the Indians and Pakistanis
      to prove that there would be no war. They have to
      show this by the success of their Peace Process.
      And while one could assert that Kashmir is likely
      to be left aside, and eventually disregarded,
      this will not happen to the nukes. They cannot be
      ignored. The very presence of nukes in India is
      an incentive to Pakistan to remain nuclear. If
      Pakistan remains nuclear, India's nuclear
      disarmament is impossible. Both also want to
      utilise nukes for their advancement: one wants
      permanent membership of the UNSC and the other
      wants to be a leader of Islamic countries.

      The question of questions is what sort of Peace
      Process will, or can, succeed between India and
      Pakistan? There are forces in both societies that
      favour a lasting peace. Both governments have
      recognised popular pressures for peace. Both have
      called this peace process irreversible. But it is
      not, though it should be made so. Hitherto both
      bureaucracies have kept the peace process under
      strict control. Not one step has been taken that
      can enable popular aspirations and yearnings to
      reduce that control. The Establishments running
      both states refuse to permit socio-economic
      realities free play. The Establishments
      importantly include local versions of
      industrial-military complexes that require
      hostility between India and Pakistan.

      The two contending forces are the entrenched
      establishments in both countries and common
      popular yearnings to be friends and ensuring
      peace and cooperation between the two countries.
      Which will succeed and when? Possibly, the
      popular sentiments will someday overwhelm the two
      establishments to make up and do the right thing
      about their nukes.

      The democratic and peace lobby has to clear the
      road to nuclear disarmament to make South Asia a
      Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. But when will popular
      forces overwhelm the establishments? It is not
      likely to be soon. The peace process is rather
      unsteady, due to entrenched vested interests in
      both countries. So far the two bureaucracies have
      had the last laugh; the visa regime is still
      restricted. Real concessions continue to elude us.

      South Asians do not deserve this Democle's sword
      over their heads. They are peace loving and
      cannot be accused of doing anything to disturb
      international peace. If there is an
      India-Pakistan war, it is sure to affect them
      adversely, as well as their ecology and climate,
      including radioactive rains and other long term

      Even the present no-war-no-peace between India
      and Pakistan is adversely affecting South Asians
      -- because so long as India-Pakistan
      confrontation lasts, there will be no real
      regional cooperation and eventual integration.

      South Asians need regional grids of
      communications, power, oil and gas, weather
      forecasting, investments and free trade, more
      cultural exchanges, regional arrangements to
      watch over human rights violations and maybe
      regional courts to enforce human rights and so
      forth. Regarding the starry-eyed idealism of
      today, power brokers in India and Pakistan will
      say is unrealistic. The Establishments have to
      preserve conditions in which they enjoy large
      budgets, respect and autonomy. That promises
      advancement and riches to powerbrokers. Other
      South Asians must get involved and help the
      embattled peace lobbies of Pakistan and India in
      the common cause of peace and progress for the
      sake of their people.


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