For all the talk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine and China attacking Taiwan, there have been four wars over Kashmir between India and Pakistan. The last one was in 1999 after India and Pakistan detonated nuclear devices.
In the last 20 years, as both countries have been building nuclear weapons, there have been a series of standoffs that have nearly resulted in another major war. The most dangerous standoff occurred in February 2019 when an Indian fighter jet crossed the Line of Control for the first time since 1971.
This Indian airstrike was in reaction to a terrorist attack by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM). Pakistan has provided shelter to several terrorist groups including JEM.
The Indian pilots tried to strike a JEM training camp. In response, the Pakistanis launched a strike of their own.
In a dogfight, the Pakistanis shot down an Indian MiG-21 plane and captured the pilot. Fortunately, the Pakistanis returned the pilot within days and both sides were able to deconflict the situation.
The real question is why should we wait for the next crisis? Instead of hoping that every crisis can be managed, it is time for the Line of Control to become the permanent border between India and Pakistan.
The Line of Control was established under the 1972 Simla Agreement. At the time, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto agreed that, “Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this Line.”
The major flaw in the agreement was that India and Pakistan agreed, “That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them.”
Bilateral diplomacy has failed. In the past, India has rejected a multilateral solution more because inviting external powers to the bargaining table will only strengthen Pakistan.
India rejected the Trump administration’s offer to help mediate this dispute as recently as 2019. If this problem could be solved bilaterally, it would have been solved a long time ago.
According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, India has approximately 150 nuclear weapons. Pakistan has approximately 160 to 165 nuclear weapons.
The nuclear warheads used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki had an explosive yield of 15 kilotons and 20 kilotons respectively. India and Pakistan have nuclear warheads with yields ranging from 12 to 40 kilotons.
In 2019, a group of scientists calculated that a nuclear exchange between these two countries could kill between 50 million to 125 million people. It would also produce catastrophic effects to the environment across the globe.
We need to convince both countries that we shouldn’t wait for another crisis to potentially spiral out of control. If India and Pakistan are going to accept the Line of Control as a permanent border, both sides would likely require further assurances.
India would require Pakistan to fight and disarm the 12 foreign terrorist groups that are operating in Pakistan such as al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM). If Pakistan is expected to fight terrorists, than it will require India to work with Pakistan for mutual withdrawals of their forces from Kashmir.
India should be more worried about China than Pakistan. If India and Pakistan can settle their differences, India can help the United States deter China more effectively.
Since 1962, China has occupied Aksai Chin, which is a part of Kashmir. China also claims the Indian state Arunachal Pradesh.
For decades, India and Pakistan have wasted billions of dollars on defense to achieve a stalemate in Kashmir. In 1953, President Eisenhower warned that the arms race was forcing both the United States and the Soviet Union to spend money that could have been better spent developing their countries.
According to President Eisenhower, in 1953, “The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.”
According to the World Bank, in 2020, the per capita GDP of India was $1,928 dollars and Pakistan was only $1,189 dollars. These two countries are significantly below both the per capita GDP of the United States ($63,414) and the global average ($10,910).
Hopefully, India and Pakistan can make peace and focus on their economic growth. These two countries have everything to gain and nothing to lose from the effort.
Robert Zapesochny is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on foreign affairs, national security and presidential history. He has been published in numerous outlets, including The American Spectator, the Washington Times, and The American Conservative. When he's not writing, Robert works for a medical research company in New York. Read Robert Zapesochny's Reports — More Here.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.