Hostile neighbors fought three full wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – and Kargil skirmishes for three weeks in 1999. And relations fell to new lows last summer when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi canceled special status lama from the border region of Jammu and Kashmir which was disputed after fighting between the two air forces in February 2019.
Now Samar Mubarakmand, former chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), has sought to allay international concerns that the two sides are moving towards a nuclear conflict.
He said: “I would not say zero chance but there is a very faint chance of a war between the two neighbors involving nuclear weaponry despite rising tensions.”
Dr Mubrakmand led a team of scientists who carried out six successful nuclear tests in the remote Chaghi district in southwest Balochistan province 22 years ago.
Islamabad ordered a trial two weeks after New Delhi conducted five nuclear tests between May 11 and May 13, 1998 in the Pokhran region in the state of Rajasthan, which borders Pakistan’s southern Sindh province.
Tit-for-tat testing triggers a new arms race in already tense areas.
Dr Mubarakmand said: “Pakistan has no choice but to pay India with the same coin after its nuclear test to maintain a strategic balance in the region.”
Indian and Pakistani border forces have been involved in clashes almost daily on the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border that separates the beautiful Kashmir valley between the two rivals since last summer.
At the same time, the two sides have been locked in a series of sea and land disputes and have carried out several vibrating missile tests.
Dr Mubarakmand, who served at PAEC from 1962 to 2007 and played a key role in developing his country’s nuclear program, said: “The leadership of the two countries is fully aware of the disasters caused by the nuclear war.
“They will not choose that option, no matter how tense the situation is.”
He said he hoped the two sides would continue to provoke each other but doubted they would “cross the line” and pursue nuclear options.
He said: “Both countries have long staggered from poverty, illiteracy and other health and economic problems.
“Undue competition or competition in arms races is not in the interests of the two countries.”
He said, there had been at least three occasions since 1998 when rivals had almost waged an all-out war.
He said: “Only Pakistan’s nuclear capability is preventing India from going to war again.
“Nuclear capabilities have brought peace to the region in a certain way.
“India’s conventional military capabilities are four times higher than Pakistan’s.
“But, their similarity in terms of nuclear weapons has neutralized India’s superiority.”
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