Pulwama attack on occupied forces in Indian held Jammu & Kashmir considered to be most fatal in recent Indo-Pak confrontation. The attack consumed more than 40 lives of paramilitary forces and escalated the tensions between two nuclear rivals. Soon after the suicide attack, India blame Pakistan for sponsoring cross border terrorism and announced to destroy its enemy. In retaliatory response, Pakistani leadership denied the false allegations of India and offered joint investigations. However, India did not pay any heed to Pakistani offer and continued its belligerent approach towards Pakistan. Since the deadly attack, both countries are busy in war preparations and hawkish elements are pushing the conflict to new heights. The general public is in stark panic as the fake news are circulating on social media.
Before analyzing the contemporary hostility among two states, we used to trace the role of historical legacy. Pakistan and India gained the independence after demise of British Empire in Indian Subcontinent, and since then both countries are locked into territorial disputes, particularly the issue on Kashmir accession, which is a flashpoint between two nations.
Both countries fought three full-fledged wars and a limited conflict over Kargil heights in 1999. As a result of 1971 war, East Pakistan now Bangladesh became sovereign state which seriously damaged the Islamic ideology of the country. Pakistan gained independence based on the concept of Islamic ideology which meant to integrate the Muslim majority areas of Subcontinent. But the artificial borderlines glued the two nations into enduring rivalry, and it is a natural phenomenon that whenever a terror incident took place in either country, the victim blame opposite side and start preparations for war.
The realism theory of IR argues that states are rational and always try to preserve their sovereignty and territorial integrity. International system is anarchic and states are responsible to protect themselves from aggressors. Thus, they maximize their economic power which consequently transform into military power. Ultimately the goal of states is military power as it is core element of international power politics. On the other hand, liberals argue that although anarchy exist in international politics and states are rational for sovereignty but conflict can be minimized through diplomacy, international organizations and economic interdependence.
Unfortunately, in case of India and Pakistan liberal thoughts have not been given place, because there are enduring territorial disputes and economic interdependence is oblique. Nationalism have been used as an instrument by both military and political leadership to achieve their own erstwhile objectives. Even after passing the eighty years, both states denied to accept the existence of opponent and are trying to eliminate the rival. National interests are secondary thing in both states and are largely compromised. War and conflict is most valuable phenomenon in South Asia, as this narrative has distanced peoples from education, health and sanitation, which are the core indicators of human development.
The war hysteria is supported by the hawkish elements of both nations. War increases the allocation of military budgets, which is advantageous for the higher echelons of army. The structure of military in both states is British inherited which is based on lavish lifestyle, and require large sums of amount to maintain the status quo of hierarchy. Thus, the armies of both countries compete with other state institutions to maximize their institutional interests at the expense of others.
The philosophy of Indian army is to protect the secular identity of the state as well as to integrate Kashmir by force. Besides, it also strive for its own status in the society. This require the billions of dollars to secure the country from traditional and non-traditional threats. And, to check on its antagonist neighbor, the Indian army has launched secret war in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan province which is prone to anarchy and fragile law and order situation. The external clandestine war not only increases the military budget of Indian army but it also raised the respect of military as an institution in general public. The hawks in the military claim that India have potential and power to destroy Pakistan and it must execute such plans, as Pakistan is a mistake of history which needs to be fixed.
Similarly, Hinduism has also been on peak since the BJP government in India. The BJP party is a Hindu nationalist party which promotes the ideology of “Hindutva”, which means that India is only for Hindus. The Modi government has failed to bring some ground breaking changes in India except the promotion of Hinduism. However, it wants to win the upcoming elections, for which it needs to use Pakistan card and somehow it is successful in its bids.
On the other hand Pakistani army is believer of Islam and assume that creation of Pakistan is incomplete without the accession of Kashmir. To integrate Kashmir it fought three wars but met with mixed results. Therefore, to engage India permanently, in the decade of 1990s, a new narrative has been developed by the military to keep the theater hot in Kashmir. For this, it is claimed by many observers that military is supporting the non-states actors; i.e. the terrorist and insurgent groups. But the policy to support terrorism has cast huge economic and human loss to country. Meanwhile, it also damaged the credibility of state on international forums which is a serious concern for policy makers.
In the contemporary scenario, India claims that Indian Air Force has hit the JeM targets in the Balakot area of Pakistan resulting 350 causalities. The Indian attack on Pakistani territory is a serious violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity, which was challenged by Pakistan military and leadership vowed to retaliate at its own time and place.
The attack was largely celebrated in India as hawks claim it is a big achievement for the Indian nation. On the other hand media sources claim that Pakistan Air Force has shot down two Indian fighter jets on Wednesday morning and arrested one pilot. But it is a precautious note that the action and reaction practice can lead both states to full-fledged war which might be Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). MAD in this sense that both countries equip with nuclear weapons and a minor miscalculation can make the matter worse. So it is huge responsibility on shoulders of military and civilian leadership to closely monitor the situation and restrain from further escalation. The war and conflict is not a solution of disputes. The differences can only be resolved through peaceful dialogues and negotiations, and both states must give chance to peace in the region.
*Author is Assistant Professor of International Relations at Women University of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Bagh Pakistan