Space for peace

October 9, 2016

A third party evaluation that may help policymakers to revisit their jingoistic narratives

Space for peace

Not War, Not Peace: Motivating Pakistan to Prevent Cross-Border TerrorismThe recent Pakistan-India tension has again urged the world to pressure these nuclear neighbours for a peaceful solution as soon as possible. Unlike Europe these countries have no experience of wars and huge mass destructions prior to the armed conflicts of 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999. Due to this misconception their media largely indulges in warmongering. Thus whenever both countries face the possibility of an armed conflict, the voice of peace is not as heard clearly.

Whether a war is fought with conventional weapons or weapons of mass destruction, it is destructive. In many ways, war is the symbol of the old narrative in the world of nation states. Yet in the 21st century many of us still seem to love it. No doubt, nuclear warfare is far more dangerous than conventional war. According to Nuclear Threat Initiative index 2016, after North Korea, Pakistan is amongst the three most vulnerable countries. The other two countries are Pakistan’s neighbours: Iran and India. All three countries rank at the bottom of the nuclear theft ranking. Although the situation has slightly improved in these countries since 2014, it is insufficient for any major breakthrough.

The data has provoked George Perkovich, a peace researcher, and Toby Dalton, an expert on non-proliferation and nuclear energy, to write Not War, Not Peace: Motivating Pakistan to Prevent Cross-Border Terrorism, that largely discusses the threat of nuclear options by Pakistan and India. Whether policymakers and warmongers like it or not, peace and negotiations are the only options both countries have, explain the authors.

Perkovich has penned a book on a similar topic in 2000. Titled India’s Nuclear Bomb: The Impact on Global Proliferation, the book threw light on non-violent Nehru’s ambitions for nuclear India in the 1950s. Perkovich writes: "The Indian decision to build the bomb did not respond to external security threats but to the domestic Indian need to assert its national identity, break from its colonial legacy, and become the great power that it felt it should rightfully be – a complex mix of domestic and psychological factors." It was equally unlikely in the case of Pakistan that had to follow the misleading path of nuclear bomb in reaction to her neighbour India.

The conflict between the neighbouring countries is partly religious and partly territorial, yet in the presence of bombs, the future of South Asia which is home to 1.75 billion people is at risk. The rise of religious fundamentalism combined with the nuclear threat in India, Pakistan and Iran is enough to alarm the peace activists the world over. It is the genesis of this book, and the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace rightly supports this effort.

The book is written primarily for Indian policymakers and politicians but in many ways it helps their Pakistani counterparts as well. It provides an analysis of a range of threats and options that the Indian government would contemplate as a response against Pakistan in the future. But the authors have accepted that none of the options are free of risk. They have extensively discussed covert operations between India and Pakistan, including Gibraltor, Mukti Bahini, the Sikh factor, Kargil, and the more recent Balochistan issue. And yet they fail to mention all the military purchases both countries have made from UK, France, USSR and USA since 1947.

In 1997, India adopted the Gujral Doctrine but the deep state at South Hall was unhappy with this decision. At P145, they cited an article of B Raman, a senior officer and head of counter terrorism in RAW, that was published in Indian Defence Review in 2013. The article was in response to the orders RAW had received to cease covert actions in Pakistan in late 1990s: "What Gujral ordered to be closed accounted for only about 15 per cent of the RAW’s operations in Pakistan". Raman encouraged the remaining 85 per cent of operations to continue. These larger-than-state intelligence institutions are part of the problem especially in the absence of checks and balances by the elected tier. It is also a reality that these institutions often rely on non-state actors.

Ironically, when General Musharraf did Kargil it weakened the Gujral Doctrine and simultaneously strengthened the deep state in India, in many ways. The rise of the BJP in 1998 was largely due to the reaction of South Hall against the Gujral Doctrine. But Raman was disappointed when Vajpayee displayed reluctance to resume covert actions in Pakistan. Moreover, Vajpayee also visited Lahore but after Kargil peace lost its chance and the Gujral Doctrine was largely derailed.

Interestingly, the current BJP leadership and Narendra Modi have showed reservations against Nehru’s policies. But in the case of nuclear ambitions, they are ready and willing to follow in Nehru’s footsteps. Modi has proved far less courageous and visionary when compared to the  seasoned Vajpayee, in many ways.

Amir riaz

The book has discussed various options including air strikes against Pakistan. At this point a pertinent book, Every War Must End, by Fred Ikle, a Swiss-born American and an experienced strategist is mentioned. Ikle writes: "The Pearl Harbor attack was one of the most successfully planned military operations in history. Yet it started a chain of developments that ended in disastrous defeat for Japan". After citing Ikle, the authors conclude: "The problem, of course, is that when each opponent thinks and acts this way and seek escalation dominance, the result is a potentially unending competition that is inherently destabilizing. In case of India and Pakistan, such conflict could end in nuclear devastation".

Both India and Pakistan have invested in nuclear deterrence at the cost of poverty and unemployment, but in the end it acts as a threat for the region at large. The presence of non-state actors in the region has multiplied that threat.  The authors have penned a 45-page chapter about the covert operations India and Pakistan have executed against each which exposes their (lack of) interest in peace. This may also be why the United Nations Security Council issued no resolution after the Mumbai attack, unlike in the aftermath of 9/11 and 7/7 in US and UK. If South Hall had adopted the Gujral Doctrine, the situation may have been very different in the post-Mumbai and post-Uri scenarios. But after Gujral, South Hall opted for an atomic explosion and in reaction Pakistan had to follow suit.

It is to be remembered that after the Mumbai attack both US and China protected Pakistan from being exposed to the UN debate about sanctions failing in the counter terrorism domain.

Keeping in mind the history of covert operations and failures to fix Pakistan, the authors suggest Indian policy makers "to get leverage on the Pakistani security establishment by making a proposal as part of diplomacy to resolve issues related to Jammu and Kashmir". India cannot resist changing world opinions and to make matters worse, Modi’s Kashmir policy is controversial even within India. Instead of developing a consensus on Kashmir and coming to the  negotiating table with Pakistan, Modi is wasting time raising the Balochistan issue or threatening to reject the Indus Water Treaty.

Pakistan and India have conducted covert operations against each other and while their respective medias generally support these operations, these attacks have also allowed religious and orthodox nationalists across the borders to flourish. These narrow nationalists were given ample space in statecraft, in turn reducing the space for peace. The book is a third party evaluation and may help policymakers to revisit their jingoistic narratives.

Not War, Not Peace - Motivating Pakistan to Prevent Cross-Border Terrorism
Authors: George Perkovich and Toby Dalton
Publisher: Oxford University Press, India
Pages: 312
Year: 2016


Space for peace