Pakistan threat of nuclear war over PoK is alarming, needs to be addressed seriously

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | May 31, 2024 IST

Pakistan threat of nuclear war over PoK is alarming, needs to be addressed seriously

Arun Joshi

As the events have unfolded during the Indian election campaign and Pakistan’s response to it, especially in response to getting back Pakistan occupied Kashmir, a nuclear threat has been aggravated by Islamabad asserting that its nuclear weapons were not subject to any red line of no first use. It is alarming .

Pakistan’s National Command Authority Advisor Lt. Gen. (retired) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai on May 28 reiterated at a seminar marking 26th anniversary of the nuclear explosions in May 1998, that his country is not committed to the No First Use (NFU) policy regarding nuclear weapons. This was a loaded statement by the advisor whose words resonate in the nuclear policy of Pakistan. It was underscored by the timing when the nuclear weapons and their use have been in the political discourse in both the countries.

During the heat of electioneering, BJP leadership, in its quest to project its image of leading a strong government led by a strong leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose return to power is widely believed to be a foregone conclusion by his supporters and Hindutva narrators, made a strong pitch about getting back Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The BJP leadership had twin objectives – ne to demonize Congress whose leader Jawaharlal Nehru is blamed for not letting the Indian army to recapture the whole of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir after it had acceded to India.

Second, the saffron party panders to the voters who love to hate Pakistan, as the neighbouring country is seen as a permanent eyesore as a result of the Partition, and its unrelenting support to cross-border terrorism. Reclaiming Pakistan occupied Kashmir triggers patriotic sentiments among majority of the country and they cherish rhetoric which humiliates Pakistan. Their minds have been filled with a feeling that unless PoK is added to the Indian map, the country’s political map is incomplete.

Farooq Abdullah, who for long has been an advocate of converting the existing Line of Control or LoC that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan into international border, took a swipe at the BJP and its leaders and told them, “don’t forget Pakistan has an atom bomb.” This was an implication of the fact that Pakistan would not let the J&K’s territories under its control just like that, and he played out on the fear that the neighbouring country would not hesitate to use all its weapons, including nuclear, to save the territories. It sounded as a shock to the BJP and also to the majority community in the country. They dibbed Farooq Abdullah, five-time chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir – 1982, 1983, 1986,1987 and 1996-  as champion of Pakistan.

Fuel to the fire was added by a replay of a month-old interview of Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyer that India should “respect Pakistan for it has nuclear weapons.” This gave an ammunition to the BJP’s rhetoric, claiming that Congress was scaring the country of Pakistan’s atom bomb. The BJP also responded claiming that though Pakistan has atom bomb but it doesn’t have the money to maintain it. Prime Minister Modi mocked at the suggestions that Pakistan could use nuclear weapons as he stated, “I have checked it myself, it’s very weak.”

Pakistan ‘s political and military leadership were listening to each and every word spoken during the elections in India. they did not miss out on the intensifying debate on PoK nor on the nuclear weapons. The first response to the Indian assertions came on May 28 when Gen. Kidwai stated that Pakistan doesn’t have a commitment to no first use policy regarding nuclear weapons.

Given the international situation and all-time increasing problems of Pakistan, Islamabad cannot dare to invite its annihilation in translating what it is threatening to do with the nuclear arsenal. Its political situation is fragile; the military too is split. These are manifestations of the desperation to which Pakistan is headed.

It’s important to note what he said at the seminar on May 28, as reported by Dawn newspaper “Pakistan does not have a No First Use Policy, and I’ll repeat that for emphasis. Pakistan does not have a No First Use policy” That, in simple interpretation meant that Pakistan won’t hesitate in using the nuclear weapons if the situation does demands. And the fact is that its nuclear weapons are India-centric.

Pakistan had exploded atom bombs in Chagai Hills of Balochistan on May 28, 1998, in a tit for tat for the Indian nuclear explosions in Pokhran in Rajasthan on May 11, the same year. Then Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif had boated, “we can eat grass but cannot compromise on exploding atomic bombs.” Pakistan had brought its nuclear weapon carrying missiles close to LoC during the Kargil war in summer of 1999 , and  later kept these ready after the Pulwama terror attack in February 2019.

The  situation in 2024 , when the world is busy in watching Israel-Palestine and Ukraine-Russia wars , it has little stomach for the nuclear war talk . India  till date has not spoken a word about its No First Use policy, in fact Atal  Bihari Vajpayee government had stated that the nuclear explosions were to channelize the nuclear energy for peaceful purposes . India , for all practical purposes is faced with twin nuclear threats – from Pakistan and China . It needs a  deterrence whereas Pakistan has no such compulsion . India is Committed to no first use policy and that should drive some sense into Pakistan and stop talking of nuclear war o threatening one in the interest of the regional stability. The shadow of nuclear war will do more harm than good to Pakistan . The international community has a responsibility to counsel Pakistan against such irresponsible statements that can vitiate atmosphere in South Asia, already in grip of multiple crisis.

Arun Joshi is author of “Eyewitness Kashmir; Teetering on Nuclear War and senior journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir, writes on South Asian affairs)

Disclaimer: This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.

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