Saturday, February 2, 2019

India-Pakistan Nuclear Standoff: What Does the West Have at Stake in South Asia?

The West, particularly the United States and Canada, are geographically far removed from South Asia. This distance makes many think that any nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan would not have a significant impact on life in America and Europe. Dr. Owen Brian Toon and Professor Alan Robock dispute this thinking. They believe the nuclear winter following an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange will kill crops as far as the United States and cause a global famine. Another study by Nobel Peace Prize- winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Physicians for Social Responsibility reached the same conclusion.

Professors Robock and Toon have calculated that the smoke from just 100-200 Hiroshima sized atomic bombs exploding in South Asia would cover the entire globe within two weeks. This smoke would hang 30-50 miles above the surface of the earth where it never rains. This thick layer of smoke would block the sun causing farmers to lose their crops for years to come. The resulting famine would kill billions of people around the globe.

It seems that the American leadership recognizes the devastating global impact of possible India-Pakistan nuclear war.  In "Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia", Pakistani-American analyst Dr. Moeed Yusuf talks about the US efforts to prevent India-Pakistan war that could escalate into a full-scale nuclear exchange. He analyzes American diplomacy in three critical periods: Kargil conflict in 1999; the stand-off after the Indian Parliament attack in 2001 and the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008.

Yusuf argues that the US-Soviet Cold War deterrence model does not apply to the India-Pakistan conflict and offers his theory of "brokered bargaining". In chapters that detail the US role during three India-Pakistan crises, it is clear that the US rejected India's insistence on bilateralism in resolving India-Pakistan disputes.  The author says that "in each episode, the concern about the escalation forced the United States to engage, largely unsolicited, and use a mix of rewards (or promises of) and punishments (or threats of) with the regional rivals to achieve de-escalation--ahead of its broader regional or policy interests."

At a  2018 Silicon Valley event organized by talk4pak, Dr. Yusuf addressed three areas of focus: 

1. US-Pakistan relations: Yusuf says Washington now sees India, not Pakistan, as its strategic partner in South Asia. Washington's entire relationship with Islamabad today revolves almost exclusively around Afghanistan where American and Pakistani interests do not converge. The only time the United States gets involved in India-Pakistan conflict is when there is a serious crisis that the world fears could escalate into a nuclear confrontation between them. 

2. India-Pakistan Ties: There is no sustained dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad to resolve issues such as Kashmir between the two neighbors. Yusuf speculates that India wants to wait it out for the time when its economic and military differential with Pakistan becomes so large that Delhi can dictate terms to Islamabad as the unchallenged regional hegemon. 

3. Afghanistan War: Pakistan does not believe that the Afghan Taliban can be militarily defeated and insists that the United States must talk directly with them to reach a political settlement.  Yusuf now believes that the recent start of direct dialogue between the United States and the Taliban may bring an eventual end to America's longest war.

Here is a TED talk by Dr. Owen Brian Toon, professor of atmospheric and ocean sciences at University of Colorado at Boulder. He's citing research he did with Professor Alan Robock, professor of climate research at Rutgers University.

https://youtu.be/O0ZPt60sZ0s





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

India-Pakistan Conventional Military Balance

India-Pakistan Nuclear Arms Race

America's "We're the Good Guys" Narrative

Funding of Hate Groups, NGOs, Think Tanks: Is Money Free Speech?

US and China Vying For Influence in Pakistan

Pakistan-China-Russia Vs India-Japan-US

Pakistan Rising or Failing: Reality vs Perception

Pakistan's Trillion Dollar Economy Among top 25

MQM-RAW Link

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel

4 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan’s interests to be ensured in #Afghanistan. Centcom Gen Votel.“As a state possessing nuclear weapons that sits at the nexus of #Russian, #Chinese, #Indian, #Iranian, #US geopolitical interests, Pakistan will always retain its importance to the US” https://tribune.com.pk/story/1906194/1-pakistan-will-always-important-us-centcom-chief/

As bilateral relations between Islamabad and Washington remain cold, a top Pentagon official earlier this week reiterated that Pakistan will always be a “country of importance” for the United States.

Commander of US Central Command General Joseph Votel, while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said “as a state possessing nuclear weapons that sits at the nexus of Russian, Chinese, Indian, Iranian, and US geopolitical interests, Pakistan will always retain its importance to the US”.

Votel added that any agreement for resolving the now 17-year-old conflict in landlocked Afghanistan would ensure Pakistan’s ‘equities’.

In light of recent efforts between Pakistan, the US, and Afghanistan to hold talks with the Taliban, the top US military official commended Pakistan’s efforts and cooperation with the State Department’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad.

“If Pakistan plays a positive role in achieving a settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, the US will have opportunity and motive to help Pakistan fulfill that role, as peace in the region is the most important mutual priority for the U.S. and Pakistan”.

The CENTCOM chief also identified Afghanistan’s uncertain political situation as the greatest risk to stability in the region and said the US looks to Pakistan among others to play a constructive role in achieving peace in Afghanistan and the greater South Asian region.

“Our posture with Pakistan involves supporting our colleagues at the Department of State as they pursue a diplomatic solution with Islamabad to end the conflict in Afghanistan while ensuring that Pakistan’s equities are acknowledged and addressed in any future agreement.”

He also addressed the issue of violent and extremist organisations, as designated by the US and the UN, and their operations in “safe havens in both Afghanistan and Pakistan”.

“Pakistan has not taken concrete actions against the safe havens of VEOs inside its borders. Similarly, VEOs located in Afghanistan conduct attacks inside Pakistan. This cross-border instability and violence generate tension along both sides of the border,” claimed Votel during the Senate briefing.

Referring to the earlier suspension of US security assistance to Pakistan, Votel acknowledged that some military cooperation between Islamabad and Washington continues and the military cooperation is important to the US.

No timetable for US withdrawal from Afghanistan, asserts Khalilzad

During recent rounds of negotiations between the Afghan Taliban and stakeholders of peace in the war-torn country, President Ashraf Ghani is being pushed to the sidelines as the Taliban ignore his overtures for peace and negotiate instead with his friends, and enemies, over the future of Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

India Vows 'Befitting Reply' After Attack On Security Forces In Kashmir

https://www.npr.org/2019/02/15/695090407/india-vows-befitting-reply-after-attack-on-security-forces-in-kashmir

Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Thursday's violence and denied involvement. "We strongly reject any insinuation by elements in [the] Indian government and media circles that seek to link the attack to [the] State of Pakistan without investigations," ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said.

A senior leader of Pakistan's ruling party said the bombing was the result of "brutalities of Indian occupied forces in Kashmir," and that India's allegations were part of a political campaign as the country's general elections near, according to The Associated Press.

Angry Hindus took matters in their own hands Friday, shouting "Attack Pakistan, Attack," the AP reported. Some protesters torched vehicles and threw rocks at houses in Muslim neighborhoods, prompting authorities to set a curfew to defuse tensions.

For decades, Washington has maintained a delicate balancing act in South Asia, relying on cooperation from Pakistan to crack down on terrorism while trying to engage more with an economically emergent India.

The U.S. embassy in India has called on Pakistan to stop supporting terrorist groups that operate on its soil. "This attack only strengthens our resolve to bolster counterterrorism cooperation and coordination between the United States and India," the embassy said.

But Moeed Yusuf, associate vice president at the United States Institute of Peace's Asia Center, tells NPR from Islamabad that India will "most likely end up frustrated" with the United States. "The U.S. and Pakistan are working too closely on finding a solution in Afghanistan for the U.S. to come down hard on Pakistan," he says.

Rhetoric on both sides will be ratcheted up, he says, but military escalation is unlikely for the nuclear-armed neighbors. "India risks being counterattacked, and if it does, in a nuclear environment, you're going to have the world descend upon India and Pakistan to push them to de-escalate tensions."

As for Adil Ahmad Dar, Thursday's alleged suicide bomber, he appears to have nursed resentment for troops in the region.

"He was beaten by Indian troops a few years back when he was returning from school," his mother, Fahmeeda Dar, told Reuters. "This led to anger in him against Indian troops."

She said one day in March 2018, her son didn't come back from work. The family stopped searching for him after three months, she said. "Finally we gave up efforts to bring him back home."

Riaz Haq said...

#India, #Pakistan threatened to unleash #missiles at each other. #India threatened to fire at least six missiles at Pakistan, and Islamabad said it would respond with its own missile strikes “three times over”. #Balakot #Kashmir #Modi https://reut.rs/2HzpotM

The way in which tensions suddenly worsened and threatened to trigger a war between the nuclear-armed nations shows how the Kashmir region, which both claim and is at the core of their enmity, remains one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.

The exchanges did not get beyond threats, and there was no suggestion that the missiles involved were anything more than conventional weapons, but they created consternation in official circles in Washington, Beijing and London.

Reuters has pieced together the events that led to the most serious military crisis in South Asia since 2008, as well as the concerted diplomatic efforts to get both sides to back down.

The simmering dispute erupted into conflict late last month when Indian and Pakistani warplanes engaged in a dogfight over Kashmir on Feb 27, a day after a raid by Indian jet fighters on what it said was a militant camp in Pakistan. Islamabad denied any militant camp exists in the area and said the Indian bombs exploded on an empty hillside.

In their first such clash since the last war between the two nations in 1971, Pakistan downed an Indian plane and captured its pilot after he ejected in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

Hours later, videos of the bloodied Indian pilot, handcuffed and blindfolded, appeared on social media, identifying himself to Pakistani interrogators, deepening anger in New Delhi.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi facing a general election in April-May, the government was under pressure to respond.


That evening, Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval spoke over a secure line to the head of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Asim Munir, to tell him India was not going to back off its new campaign of “counter terrorism” even after the pilot’s capture, an Indian government source and a Western diplomat with knowledge of the conversations told Reuters in New Delhi.

Doval told Munir that India’s fight was with the militant groups that freely operated from Pakistani soil and it was prepared to escalate, said the government source.

A Pakistani government minister and a Western diplomat in Islamabad separately confirmed a specific Indian threat to use six missiles on targets inside Pakistan. They did not specify who delivered the threat or who received it, but the minister said Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies “were communicating with each other during the fight, and even now they are communicating with each other”.

Pakistan said it would counter any Indian missile attacks with many more launches of its own, the minister told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We said if you will fire one missile, we will fire three. Whatever India will do, we will respond three times to that,” the Pakistani minister said.

Doval’s office did not respond to a request for comment. India was not aware of any missile threat issued to Pakistan, a government official said in reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Pakistan’s military declined to comment and Munir could not be reached for comment. Pakistan’s foreign ministry did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

---
U.S. security advisor Bolton was on the phone with Doval on the night of Feb 27 itself, and into the early hours of Feb 28, the second day of the Trump-Kim talks, in an attempt to defuse the situation, the Western diplomat in New Delhi and the Indian official said.

Later, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was also in Hanoi, also called both sides to seek a way out of the crisis.

“Secretary Pompeo led diplomatic engagement directly, and that played an essential role in de-escalating the tensions between the two sides,” State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a briefing in Washington on March 5.

Riaz Haq said...

What is the view of the Pakistan Army about the possibility of a nuclear war with India?
An excerpt from Shuja Nawaz ‘The Battle for Pakistan’ examining the strategic thinking about a potential war.


https://scroll.in/article/939003/what-is-the-view-of-the-pakistan-army-about-the-possibility-of-a-nuclear-war-with-india


India continues to publicly disavow the premise of Cold Start, that its forward-deployed Integrated Battle Groups could move rapidly into Pakistani territory, capture key cities and territory and make Pakistan sue for terms. Pakistan continues to see this as an emerging threat and considers the 1980s thinking that led to the Brasstacks exercise as a testing of the idea of such rapid combined manoeuvres designed to hit Pakistan at multiple points of vulnerability in a modern version of the German blitzkrieg.

It countered with an offensive-defensive approach that was based on hitting India in response with a counter-strike and capturing key territory for itself. Its conventional riposte, based on a net-centric doctrine of well-planned counterattacks, was bolstered over time by the testing and development of a tactical nuclear capability by Pakistan (countered by India). This took the form of short-range so-called tactical weapons mounted on ballistic and cruise missiles, adding to the potential for a nuclear holocaust in the region with global consequences.

---------------

Loosely translated, this means that Pakistani forces can blunt any conventional Indian attack and respond effectively by undertaking its own offensive actions into Indian territory. All under a nuclear overhang.

Pakistan’s new army doctrine recognises a wider spectrum of conflict that includes sub-conventional warfare in addition to conventional warfare that, in turn, includes low-intensity operations, conventional war and nuclear warfare. The latter is aimed at complementing comprehensive deterrence and adding to the combat potential of the regular forces, leading to a potentially heavy cost for any aggressor. Nuclear war is seen “only as a last resort”.

Moreover, while conventional warfare is to be conducted under the devolved authority given by the National Command Authority to the military high command, the decision to go to nuclear war can only be initiated by the civilian authority under “the exclusive right of the NCA headed by the prime minister”. But no one has any doubts that should India launch a serious and deep conventional strike into Pakistan, the army would take the lead in deciding how to respond rapidly, with or without formal approval by the NCA.


Increasingly, Pakistan sees itself subject to potentially hostile activity from India, under the assumption that a sort of nuclear parity has led to maintenance of the status quo.
So, it expects India (the unnamed South Asian foe in its new Army doctrine) to synchronise activities at various levels to: “subtly erode [Pakistan’s]...national resilience and force compliance”. India’s willingness to bear the cost of war will help define the intensity, scale and nature of any future conflict, according to this view.

At the same time, Pakistan’s own calculations rest on the intensity of a nuclear exchange that would be Counter Value in nature rather than Counter Force. Potentially, ten major Indian urban centres and all seven of Pakistan’s major cities might be the targets in a nuclear exchange. The end result would be the destruction of large tracts of India and most of Pakistani territory, and the release of dust and debris into the atmosphere that would travel eastwards, eventually covering the entire Northern Hemisphere. In effect, Nuclear Winter could descend on the northern half of the globe for as much as six months. India’s own calculations may well mirror those of Pakistan.