Can Kashmir Conflict Drive India, Pakistan Towards A Nuclear War?

Amid rising tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, the possibility of a  war, that too a nuclear war looks unlikely. India says that Pakistan made the highest number of ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir – over 3200 times or an average of nine times a day.

As EurAsian Times reported earlier, after the recent encounter of a top militant commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, Riyaz Naikoo, Pakistan Foreign Office condemned the killing and termed it as a “fake encounter” which further deteriorated ties between two nuclear-armed neighbours. 

The biggest question is – can India and Pakistan go nuclear over Kashmir. According to Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist, Samar Mubarakmand, the chances of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan are “very dim.” 

Samar Mubarakmand is a former chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), and head of a team of the scientists that conducted six “successful” nuclear tests in remote Chaghi district of southwestern Balochistan province on May 28, 1998.

Islamabad conducted nuclear tests two weeks after New Delhi conducted five nuclear tests on May 11-13, 1998 in Pokhran range of Rajasthan state. This triggered a massive arms race between the two hostile nations.

“Pakistan had no other choice but to pay India back in the same coin after its nuclear tests to maintain strategic balance in the region,” Mubarakmand said.

The already strained relationship between two nuclear-armed nations worsened after New Delhi scrapped the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistani’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan pointed towards the possibility of war and said that if things continue along this road, a face-off between two nuclear-armed nations will all be inevitable.

According to Mubarakmand, since both the countries are reeling with poverty, illiteracy and other health and economic issues, a nuclear war would not be in the interest of any of the two nations. “The leadership of both countries are fully aware of the catastrophe a nuclear war can cause. They won’t go for that option no matter how tense the situation is,” he added. 

India’s military spending has made it to the list of top spenders with a growth of 6.8 per cent to $71.1 billion in Asia, trailing only after China as reported by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

“India’s tensions and rivalry with both Pakistan and China are among the major drivers for its increased military spending,” said Siemon T. Wezeman, SIPRI Senior Researcher. India is the second-largest arms importer while Pakistan ranks at 11th.

According to the SIPRI, India currently holds between 80 and 100 nuclear warheads, while Pakistan holds between 90 and 110. China has been a major supporter of Pakistan especially in assisting Islamabad in its nuclear program.

India’s troop strength is about four times that of Pakistan with over 1.3 million. However, It was Pakistan’s nuclear capability that deterred India from going for another war,” Mubarakmand stated. He further added that “it (nuclear capability) has brought peace to the region in a way.