Griffen Smith | United States
In the United States, people often view Russia, North Korea, or even Iran as threats to nuclear proliferation and war. However, a much larger, realistic threat is booming in the Middle East: Rising tensions between Pakistan and India.
Valentine’s day 2019 was red with blood in the Indian controlled town of Pulwama when a suicide car bombing killed 40 Indian militiamen. As a result, the Southern region of Kashmir has been cast into chaos. Indians, military and civilian alike, have been reportedly hunting down members of Jaish e-Mohammad, a notorious Pakistani insurgent group, killing at least 14 over the last two weeks. Guerilla warfare and the first military strikes by Pakistan and India in five decades have drastically escalated the likelihood of warfare. Pakistan and India have been struggling for control of the mountainous region of Kashmir, a territory with a history of bloodshed over the last 70 years.
India and Pakistan Were Always Destined for Conflict
1947 was the year of liberation for the Indo-Pak region from British rule. However, through colonization ended, the issue of regional peace is still far from being resolved. India and Pakistan were both artificially created by the British parliament, which created conflicting borders and demographics within each country. Furthermore, the region of Kashmir was left untouched, meaning the region could join either India or Pakistan. Kashmiris were unable to choose a country to join. 18 years later, in 1965, India pushed Pakistan out of the Kashmir region and sparked a proxy war in the region that has caused violence for the last 50 years.
Not only is there a conflict over disputed regions, but India and Pakistan also have religious differences. Pakistan, a nation that is predominately Muslim, and India, a mix of Buddhists, Hindi, and Sihks have had conflicts based on religious ideology for many years, leading to the deaths of Millions of people.
The recent developments in the Pulwama region are beginning to paint a desperate picture of a decades-long conflict.
The Potential for Nuclear War
Though the United States and Russia hold the lion’s share of nuclear weapons, they are not the only nations with nuclear capability. In fact, the Federation of American Scientists reports that 9 countries have nuclear warheads. India and Pakistan have a combined 300 missiles.
Nuclear warfare is a serious issue, yet many political scientists claim nuclear warfare can never happen due to MAD theory. Mutually assured destruction is an effective theory, as no nuclear-capable countries have ever been in warfare with each other. Yet Pakistan and India represent a unique situation. First, India and Pakistan physically border one another. Second, because India and Pakistan have a disputed region, Kashmir, conventional skirmishes have occurred between military groups. With the reports of official military operations ensuing, there is a slippery slope that could end with the launching of nuclear weapons.
World Ties to India and Pakistan
Closely involved, both physically and economically is the country of China, which borders the Northern region of India, Pakistan, and Kashmir. According to regional officials in the area, China and India also have aggression towards one another concerning nuclear warfare. If Pakistan and India begin a nuclear war, China would be soon to follow, especially if an attack occurs near their borders.
In respect to the rest of the world, it would be unlikely that a war between India and Pakistan would draw in international fighters. Nonetheless, a war between the two nations could easily cripple the world economy. The combined GDP output in the Indo-Pak region makes up a whopping 3% of international output. Though many will argue that 3 percent is not a large portion, India and Pakistan are important to the production of manufactured goods. If nuclear warfare halted production within the countries, a ripple effect could spark worldwide shortages of manufactured goods.
India and Pakistan are on a slippery slope. Both sides are creating propaganda, launching conventional military strikes and not seeming to slow down. This Spring is the turning point. Either the Indo-Pak countries can sit down and work out a final diplomatic solution for Kashmir, or the region will be consumed by war.
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