The nuclear “flashpoint” is the usual reason trotted out especially by Western thinktanks to gather willing Indian and Pakistani commentators and get the whole caboodle to endorse the official US, UK, or other view that to ward off a nuclear exchange, Western intervention is necessary. Most subcontinentals with variable knowledge of issues nuclear are easily roped in for the purpose because they crave invitations to such conclaves in the hope that these will lead to more such invitations and to short or long term attachments with the host and other participating institutions. Have never ever heard any of these South Asian invitees to do other than in various ways end up supporting the view that because Indians and Pakistanis cannot take care of the business of keeping themselves and their countries safe from rogues, hotheads, and similar variety of undesirables ostensibly populating the governments and the strategic forces commands in their home countries, or their inability generally to keep a cool head in crises, that well-meaning US government forays into peace-making and peace-keeping is in order. It is understandable why retired Pakistani generals and the like would stoke the idea of a pressure-cooker situation obtaining along the LOC — after all Islamabad has always sought such intervention as an antidote to certain annihilation in a nuclear exchange and, in any case, have desired international intervention in the Kashmir dispute. If the possibility of a Kashmir confrontation can get such attention, then damned if they don’t put light to that tinder. What isn’t clear is why Indian commentators seem so eager to buttress the case of an inherently unstable situation when, in reality, it is anything but, unless it is for aforementioned reasons.
As I have argued since 1987, in fact, the subcontinent has reached a meta-stable state in security relations, which cannot easily be disturbed. Unless the concerns of a really skewed exchange ratio — the extinction of Pakistan for a couple of Indian cities, notwithstanding, GHQ, Rawalpindi, is determined on national suicide. After all, the Pakistan Army has been nothing if not thoroughly professional particularly in gauging its own severe limitations and how far it can push India short of provoking it to deliver a fatal blow. This is the point I have made to Western and Pakistani audiences, and it is a telling one that has brooked little refutation. It is not a point welcomed, however, by thinktanks in America and Western Europe because it robs their governments of a line that accommodates a go-between/mediator role for the US, UK, et al, and the thintanks in question of a good part of their funding available to them by generating scenarios of prospective apocalypse that scares everybody to death. And, any promise to prevent it — including by such soirees — opens up the purse strings! In the event, herding a bunch of professional Indian seminar-ists with variable grip on deterrence reality, history, or even the national interest, is not difficult. They are relied upon to mouth stuff conforming to the laid down script. The still grander aim of such do’s is by slow degrees to build up a regional consensus to draw India fully into the nuclear nonproliferation treaty net. (This little disquisition is triggered by a newsreport of a conference on “limited nuclear war” hosted by the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory with grants for this exercise sourced to the US National Nuclear Security Administration.)
Isn’t it time an Indian government with some strategic wits about it hosted an international conference about the nuclear touch-trigger situation now obtaining in Europe and the imminence of a US-Russian nuclear war which, by the way, is a far greater possibility than a nuclear conflagration in South Asia? So if the US and Russia are not going to blow themselves up, neither are India and Pakistan.