Can a Nuclear War begin in South Asia?

Seymur Mammadov is the Director of the International Expert Club «EurAsiaAz» which deals with strategic issues of Eurasian Region. He also holds the position as editor-in-chief in news agency “Vzglyad”.

By Seymur Mammadov

In August, a new round of aggravation of relations between India and Pakistan took place. The reason for this was the decision of the Lower House of the Indian Parliament to repeal Article 370 of the Constitution of the country, which gives special status to the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir (Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir), where the Muslim population predominates. In general, this region, since 1947, has caused three major wars and many armed clashes. Now clashes, protests are again taking place in this region, disgruntled voices of Kashmiris are heard against the Indian authorities.

I wonder why India abolished autonomy in its occupied Kashmir? What threat does the conflict between the two nuclear powers of South Asia pose to the world? How likely is a nuclear war in the region?

In May of this year, elections were held in India, in which the nationalist Indian People’s Party won 350 out of 543 seats in parliament. Such success prompted party leader Narenda Modi to more decisive action that affected Jammu and Kashmir. However, a strategy to abolish the autonomy of the region was developed long ago, but the Indian authorities did not dare to do it publicly for one simple reason – they were waiting for a convenient moment.

India needed to make sure that they would not be heavily criticized by the international community. Factors such as the ongoing Western sanctions against Russia and Iran, the trade war between the USA and China, the simultaneous entry of India and Pakistan into the SCO, influenced the decision of the Indian authorities to abolish the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir.

However, it seems to me that the presence of India and Pakistan in a single integration association—-the SCO, has increasingly pushed the Indian authorities to take this decision on Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Why?

The fact is that the membership of Pakistan and India in a single organization together with Russia and China is a kind of good opportunity to avoid condemnation by the major powers of Eurasia – particularly Moscow, if a conflict arises between the SCO members. Indeed, in this case, Russia will not openly speak out in support of one of the conflicting parties, or they will not spoil relations with India.

On the other hand, India is a major importer of Russian military equipment, and this import exceeds 60 percent. And in recent years, India has been buying more and more weapons from Russia. In turn, China morally supports Pakistan, but it is difficult to give a definite answer to the question of whether Beijing will fight Delhi on the side of Islamabad. But one thing is known, there is a high probability that China will make every effort to prevent an Indo-Pakistani war, because, firstly, any war in the region is a direct threat to the Chinese initiative “One Belt, One Road”, and secondly, certain political forces in China hope India will someday become a participant in a project that has historically been closely linked to the Silk Road.

What reaction did we see in Russia after the autonomy in Kashmir was abolished by the Indian authorities? Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a conversation with Pakistani Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi, called for the de-escalation of the conflict and emphasized that the differences should be settled on a bilateral basis. Russia and China will try to restrain the war between India and Pakistan, but if this happens, in this case the credibility of the SCO may be undermined, the organization will lose its status of “guarantor of peace in the region.” Therefore, neither Russia nor China is interested in the SCO members having doubts about the effectiveness and usefulness of the organization. Thus, knowing what SCO dividends will bring to India in the future, Prime Minister Modi decided to open his country’s doors to this organization.

Such a step by India actually means the full integration of the predominantly Muslim region into the Indian Republic. For this reason, there will never be peace and stability in the region. If the Indian authorities think that the decision to abolish the autonomy in Kashmir will put an end to all the problems that exist in the region, I personally do not think so.

Indian authorities say their decision will pave the way for the social and economic development of Jammu and Kashmir. It seems to me that this statement is a little exaggerated. For the development of a region, the abolition of its autonomy is not and should not be a prerequisite. In order not to be unfounded, I will give a clear example from the modern history of Azerbaijan.

The Nakhchivan region is an autonomous state within Azerbaijan, which is rapidly developing today. The economy of the region over the past decades is characterized by the growth of all indicators of economic development. As a result of targeted activities, tens of thousands of new jobs were opened in a short period of time. Improving customs infrastructure, liberalizing foreign trade, and creating favorable conditions for investors have borne fruit. To ensure the continuity of economic progress, as well as for the sustainable and efficient use of available natural resources and labor potential, state programs for the development of Nakhchivan have been developed.

After the abolition of autonomy in Kashmir, there will be more incidents on the control line, Muslims on both sides of the border will continue to accuse the Indian government of violating the agreements, and will threaten to completely destabilize the situation in the region.

The only solution to this problem is the intervention of the international community, the UN, compliance with the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council. Unfortunately, the work of the UN in matters of territorial conflict is meaningless and useless.

Today, the UN is not coping with its responsibilities, its resolutions are not working, and aggressor countries grossly ignore the resolutions of this organization. The UN is seriously required in reformatting, modernization.

After all, we do not know what extreme measures India and Pakistan can take in the Kashmir issue. We cannot say with great certainty that there will be no war. Everything can change in a second, and forever. Then stopping the war will be much more difficult.


The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.