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11th October '2013
“Nuclear Flashpoint”, myth or reality?

There is hardly any occasion in international gatherings where the problem of Kashmir comes up for discussion, when one or other representatives especially from the western countries do not fail to mention that Kashmir is a “Nuclear Flashpoint”! Over the years hype has been built up around this dispute to create very severe and grave apprehensions about its being a threat to world peace and a possible trigger for a nuclear exchange between these two Asian neighbours. One would have thought that this grave threat perception would help in its quick resolution but on the contrary this idea of a possible mad nuclear exchange reinforced by western powers in reality acts as a delaying tactic in its final settlement. This idea actually crept in the discourse from the time the two countries exploded half a dozen nuclear devices some years back. Till that time they had already fought three conventional wars.

There are many theories about the background to this now very well known label of Kashmir, the “Asia’s Nuclear Flashpoint”. In fact, in February, 2000 Dr. Subash Kapila wrote an article about this contention being a myth floated by USA and Pakistan since early eighties for their vested interests. According to Dr.Kapila, the USA fully knows that no one except them have used nuclear weapons physically or as a blackmail (Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Cuba). They also know that they can hold back Pakistan if necessary by pre-empting their strike capability. India has already declared no first strike. Dr. Kapila concludes that the myth is only to contain Indian influence in South Asia and prevent any attempt at a limited Indian conventional strike in Pakistan Administered Kashmir. Dr.Kapila says that the Pakistan’s bogey about the nuclear flashpoint is to pressurise international community to intervene in settling Kashmir dispute.

As per Dr.Kapila the myth can turn into reality only if an irrational fundamentalist dictator decides to use the nuclear weapon to force India to give up Kashmir. However, in this scenario also China may not allow this or the Pakistanis themselves would have to take into account the Indian retaliation of second strike which would completely wipe out Pakistan. On all counts, the possibility of a nuclear conflagration over Kashmir seems very rare as was evident from the Kargil war where Bill Clinton intervened after consulting his Chinese counterpart to call a halt to the hostilities. The recent development in Pakistan where violence has assumed alarming proportions especially the unstoppable suicide attacks does create a disturbing scenario. A suicide bomber running away with a nuke to teach India a lesson can trigger an Armageddon! Apart from that rare suicidal eventuality, a full-fledged nuclear war breaking out in the sub-continent is not a possibility in the present international scenario. USA and other western powers will not allow that to happen.

Thus one could say that the hype about Kashmir being a nuclear flashpoint or an Asian hot-spot is a myth which is in fact being used by one and all to forestall any progress towards its resolution. Even very recently, the Pakistani Prime Minister has called Kashmir a nuclear flashpoint. Apart from these international players even the local leaders in Kashmir have also been very conveniently repeating these lines of his master’s voice! One would have expected the local leaders not to get swayed by this mythical hype that Kashmir is a nuclear or non-nuclear Asian or global flashpoint. They should have at least been able to guess that the worn out slogan is just to keep Kashmiris hanging till eternity. Normally if it was such a dangerous flashpoint then everyone should have been rushing to get it settled at the earliest in the interests of the world peace! On the contrary the western powers especially the global policeman (USA) which normally intervenes everywhere on the tiniest grounds keeps on telling India and Pakistan to sort out the problem bi-laterally. Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and now Syria need American intervention but not Kashmir which has been hanging fire for more than half a century. It is the common Kashmiris who are in the line of fire and have been facing the consequences of a proxy war between the two irreconcilable neighbours of the sub-continent.

The recent startling disclosures by the former Army Chief General V K Singh are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg and show to what length these people are ready to go to keep the pot boiling in Kashmir. The other side is doing the same thing to get relief from the uncontrollable local militants bent upon destroying their feudal set up. This uncertain situation fuelled and maintained by both the sides is slowly creating a dangerous situation for the local people who may get completely annihilated in this mindless terror war if it continues unabated without anyone willing to stop it on the mythical excuse of it being a “Nuclear” Flashpoint”!

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