On the other side of Wagah lies a state which is to undergo a democratic transition, with the elections bringing in a whole new level of sweet and sour for the neighboring nations. So, the ruling party and the opposition undergo a frenzy of emotions, with the nostalgic 1990s taking over and clouding their judgment. Adding to this ‘not so tolerant and liberal mix’ of politicians and senior military staff alike, is the confidence that they have, perhaps, taken over as the ‘US of South Asia’ with one nuclear submarine and one aircraft carrier. The ‘not so China-centric strategy’ has indeed served them well, but success can never be measured to be colossal in a matter of only a few months. While importing almost a staggering 70% of its arms and the defense budget spiking to almost $34 billion, the recessive nature of global economy is sure to hit the shores of Mumbai as it did to many other nations. Where most of the payment is yet to be realized in favor of the arms that India is scheduled to procure by 2020, there is little comfort for Delhi. With global economic trends bearing a negative mark on trade and the People’s Republic of China trying to replicate what it did back in 1962, not to mention the titanic investments by China in expanding their military capabilities as well as restructuring the global economy to suit their liking, there is much that this ‘regional hegemon-to-be’ has to overcome.
All this tension and already accepted hostility brings a danger that would encompass everyone without prejudice. If a diesel-powered submarine was so vulnerable as to catch fire in a dock and create such a mess, what is to stop the INS Arihant from undergoing such a disaster and creating a massive problem involving high quantity of radioactive material from its 83 MWe critical nuclear reactor currently functioning on 40% enriched Uranium? Where both the nations in the Arabian Sea-Indian Ocean have neither witnessed a proper nuclear disaster nor have ever contained a radioactive meltdown before that too on board a floating vessel, the chances, if something of this sort were to occur, are grim and the consequences would be grave. From 1961 onwards, there have been countless nuclear accidents regarding Soviet/Russian nuclear submarines, from uncontrollable chain reactions to reactor meltdowns to fires and partial sinking, cumulatively resulting in around 500 deaths and uncalculated environmental damage. The Indian submarine designs and technology almost replicate the Soviet/Russian Akula and November type vessels which have been prone to nuclear incidents in the past. Yet, with respect to nuclear safety and security, Pakistan can inquire of India as to nuclear safety and security on board the vessel, which is still in its test phase and scheduled to be commissioned somewhere in 2014.
As far as the LoC is concerned, dialogue is something that the Pakistani population and the media should not view as a ‘coward’s tool’; it should rather be viewed as the ‘sane choice’. The Indian rhetoric of annihilation stops short of the Mutual Assured Destruction barrier, and there is nothing an aircraft carrier or an ‘under testing’ nuclear submarine can do much about. It is merely an angry child that refuses to take sweets from the Chenab Rangers and plays the game of ‘dare if you will’ and, that too, to no end.