One of the scariest confrontation in the world will have to be between Pakistan and India, both of which are heavily armed nuclear nations. With cooperation between China and Pakistan on the rise, White House and the Defense Department are looking to balance the equation by enhancing military and nuclear ties with India. Of course, the warmth of India’s relationship with the States may inflame Indo-Pak tensions. In a nutshell, the US military and nuclear aid to India translates into a 10-year defense framework which would potentially increase cooperation in all sectors of military ranging from maritime security to aircraft carrier to jet engine technology. Pakistan has already lashed out at this arrangement dubbing this defense deal as discriminatory, which is quite true. Will these aids inflame Indo-Pak tensions however?
To put Indo-Pak tensions into perspective, Pakistan and India have fought four major wars ever since the partition in 1947. Tensions over Kashmir (a disputed territory; and the primary reason for majority of the battles) climb at an alarming rate. Given the recent failed peace talks, and Nawaz Sharif’s (Prime Minister of Pakistan) four-point peace proposition, it would seem that Indo-Pak tensions are not going to die out anytime soon. But why is a confrontation between the two trigger-happy nations so scary? Primarily because both are heavily armed with nukes, but on a rather grave level, both nations are not afraid to actually use them if push comes to shove, and both these nations continue to increase their nuclear arsenal at an exponential rate. India produces somewhere between 90 and 100 warheads, while Pakistan is going at a rate of 100 to 120 warheads a year.
The Obama administration is cooperating with India so that China’s military buildup can be contained. Even if one assumes that States’ intentions may be against China and not Pakistan, India can still use those same weapons against Pakistan’s interest, and so Pakistan takes this cooperation as anything but nonthreatening. In fact, the cooperation is highly perceived as threatening. So just like India looks up to the U.S. in certain matters, Pakistan is being helped on sea, air, and land by China. Pakistan is being supplied with submarines, JF-17 fighters and strategic corridor(s) (China-Pak Economic Corridor) that would essentially make Pakistan the hub of all economy towards the Middle East. In fact, Pakistan recently signed a deal to buy eight submarines from China half of which will be produced in China while the other half in Pakistan.
One of the major perceptions that prevail in the region is that Indo-Pak tensions can be kept at bay as long as there is balance between the two nations. So far, everything seems balanced. India is purchasing jets, Pakistan is producing jets, India is receiving aid from the US, and Pakistan receives it from China and so on. But recent military generosity towards India, as shown by the United States, is all set to upset this balance. The Pentagon publicly set up a collaboration group that is solely aimed at helping India build its next aircraft carrier. India is also looking at options to make that carrier a nuclear-propelled vessel. India may even get the next generation Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) currently being used on the new Ford-class U.S. aircraft carriers. Of course, Pakistan could look to China for provision of aircraft carriers or the technology, but Pakistan does not have the resources at the moment. Meanwhile, India has a ironclad civil nuclear deal with the United States, and even though a similar deal was rumored to be in the pipeline for Pakistan, it turned out to be a complete bust. In fact, the deal, if signed, would have had terrible consequences for Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and therefore has been completely denied by Pakistani’s government. It would only be natural for Indo-Pak tensions to rise while Pakistan faces such discrimination.
While the U.S. maintains that it is not being discriminatory and tilting towards India, it does not seem to hold any truth. Primarily because the cooperation between Obama administration and Modi underlines agreements between the two to disrupt certain militant entities such as the Haqqani Network, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, all of which are believed to have strongholds in Pakistan. If the U.S. and India were to eliminate said entities, wouldn’t there be a very real need to have aggressive, may be even military contact with Pakistan? Of course, U.S. has all the right to work with India against China, or even Pakistan for that matter. But the underlying facts are dangerous for the entire Southeast Asian region. So shouldn’t U.S.’ tilt towards India in terms of military and nuclear cooperation lead to heightened Indo-Pak tensions? Especially if one believes and considers the intent of cooperation between the two countries?
Something that can be handed to Pakistan is non-aggressiveness, at least publicly. Any actions the military or government takes is a defense strategy, and not an aggressive one. For example, Pakistan’s government for the first time accepted producing and possessing low-yield tactical nuclear weapons. That was in wake of India’s Cold Start Doctrine. Pakistan is effectively and indiscriminately working against terrorist organizations (read: Operation Zarb-e-Azb) and groups within the country, hardly a stance of a country that would willingly house said organizations voluntarily. The only aggression Pakistan is currently showing is against militants in the form of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which extremely successful at the moment. So for the world to believe, that Pakistan houses such elements willingly, and then helping the archrival, India, to build up her military and nuclear capabilities can very well antagonize Pakistan to a dangerous extent.
One thing for certain here is that Pakistan will not make the first move. So a confrontation, if any, will come externally. The only possible action here is to diffuse current Indo-Pak tensions and work out solutions on Kashmir. Perhaps, it is the only way to ease the relationship between the two countries. Another of course, is for the United States to not be overly generous to India in provision of weapons that can ultimately be used against Pakistan. A confrontation between the two countries can very well incorporate nuclear weapons which is not a good story no matter which angle one looks at it.You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ for more updates. Otherwise fill in the subscription box above, or subscribe to our RSS Feed.