Between the two adversaries, a struggle to out-maneuver each other has claimed countless lives in the past decade, though both nations, presumably, raised the white flag ages ago.
Just as everything around the Indo-Pak border seemed grave enough, there came an incident that can serve as a new dimension for the strategic mindset in Pakistan, and can be used to secure some safety in this uncontrollable quagmire. As is apparent from the recent incident that severely damaged the Indian Submarine Sindhurakshak, partially sinking it and killing almost 18 sailors, with another submarine narrowly escaping this disaster, there stands an inherent flaw in either the Indian technology or their use of materials. Whereas initial reports as to what caused this catastrophe are attributed to accidental detonation of explosives close by or electrical failure causing a massive fire, the result is that negligent behavior and use of poor technology caused what the Indian Defense Minister, Mr. A.K. Anthony, called a ‘tragedy’. But who is to trust Mr. Anthony, who may later call it a terrorist activity from across the border, just as he switched from ‘presumably wearing a Pakistani uniform-like outfit’ to ‘assisted by Pakistani Special Forces’ in the recent LoC incident of the killing of five Indian soldiers? To avenge this, almost 50 lives have been claimed after the incident, without probable cause or just rationale.
South Asia is a land of epiphanies, and in the majesty of its landscape, there brews a concoction of dilemmas and repeated blunders from the pages of history. Nuclear weapons manifested a whole new dimension of thought, but still, in this region with this new technology, these weapons brought the Cold War back into action. Both nations started producing their own George Kennans, McNamaras and Trumans, but they forgot one thing: Neither are they the US and the USSR nor is this the 1950s or the 1970s or even the 1980s. From Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles to Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles, from aspiring to acquire Ballistic Missile Defense Shields to miniaturizing nuclear weapons in an attempt to shock and awe the adversary, from not-so-required Aircraft Carriers to developing Nuclear Submarines capable of delivering nuclear weapons, this region spends more on precedent strategies than developing their own set of guidelines.
When Kenneth Waltz and Scott Sagan initiated a debate in “The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed”, their intention was to understand the concept of what could be the strategic possibilities and future outcomes of Indo-Pak nuclear behavior in the region and the world over. However, their theory was presumed to act as a yardstick of goals and the gospel-truth in South Asia, stagnating the development of indigenous nuclear strategies.
With an intense history of aggression and hatred towards one another, we come to a threshold – the Line of Control. Between the two adversaries, a struggle to out-man, out-gun and out-maneuver each other has claimed countless lives in the past decade, piling up a collateral damage that falls under no category of conflict as both nations, presumably, raised the white flag ages ago fearing nuclear annihilation. This, however, paved the way for ambiguous nuclear doctrines and confusion between theory and practice, increasing regional vulnerability. Even though it may have served as a political force multiplier – the rhetoric of annihilating the adversary; but this slogan sort of backfired when it came to the military side of the state. This created fissures in the civil-military relations within both the states and can cause grave security risks. With the Indian government giving a ‘freehand’ to their Border Security Forces and the expectation of adequate retaliatory response from Pakistan, the ladder of escalation seems shorter and shorter.
In such circumstances, a layman Pakistani comes to think low of the Army and the intelligence agencies, and deems the call for reconciliation an act of shame rather than a better line of stratagem and the ‘fireworks of Shab-e-Raat’ seem to be a desired answer to the current Indian behavior on the LoC. However, silence has many meanings if maintained with consistency and coherence between the organs of the state. But with the Army relatively silent, the media confused and the government preoccupied with ‘other priorities’, there is little that can be said about consistency and coherence within the Land of the Pure. A wake up call is what is urgently required to maintain a strong sense of control to which the world thinks otherwise.