Wednesday October 16, 2019
Home India Tensions betw...

Tensions between India and Pakistan Refuse to Abate

The deep hostilities today are only overshadowed by the ghosts of the Kargil war in 1999 and the 2001 Parliament attacks

0
//
Tensions, India, Pakistan
Ties between the two countries are probably at their lowest point in two decades. Pixabay

The tensions between India and Pakistan refuse to abate. Ties between the two countries are probably at their lowest point in two decades. The deep hostilities today are only overshadowed by the ghosts of the Kargil war in 1999 and the 2001 Parliament attacks. Even the 2008 Mumbai attacks did not bring the relations between the two nations to such a low. This comes riding on a series of events starting from the shocking Pathankot attack (2016), Uri attack (2016), Amarnath Yatra Attack (2017) to the recent Pulwama attack (2019). As a result, the leaders of the two nations have not met since 2015.

The matter reached a crescendo when India abrogated Article 370, which ended the special status that had been accorded to Kashmir and brought it under central control. Even though the matter is a domestic issue for India, Pakistan has made concerted efforts to internationalise the issue. Imran Khan even went on to appeal to the international community through The New York Times for wider involvement over the issue arguing that a “threat looms over the world … under a nuclear shadow.” The developing animosity does not seem to be nearing its end anytime soon.

While the threat of nuclear war has been repeatedly used by Pakistan to rile up international support over the Kashmir issue, India needs to practice restraint in its approach towards the issue. The gains from peace far exceed the returns from adopting a belligerent stance. In this regard, the idea of reconsidering India’s no first use (NFU) posture on nuclear weapons is quite problematic. This can be understood from a game theoretic viewpoint.

What remains of utmost importance is whether India should revoke its no first use policy or not. This question can be answered using a classic example of a “Prisoner’s dilemma.” The game involves two players – India and Pakistan, each having two sets of strategies to choose from, i.e. to launch a nuclear attack (called “attack”) or not to attack. If only one country attacks, the attacker receives a positive payoff, and the opponent gets a negative one. Fixing the strategy of other players as attack or not attack, attacking will always give the maximum payoff to each. Therefore, the dominant strategy of each player is to attack, which is the only Nash equilibrium in the game.

Tensions, India, Pakistan
The tensions between India and Pakistan refuse to abate. Pixabay

However, both the players would be understandably better off by choosing not to attack at all. Their overall payoff would be higher than the dominant strategy Nash equilibrium. Hence, reconciling their differences and not attacking can indeed provide higher gains to both. This is so because the country attacking first might have first-mover advantage, but it would be followed by a series of counter strikes and eventually both would receive negative payoffs. Thus, even though both countries have a dominant strategy of attacking each other, both would be better off by cooperating.

The NFU policy acts as an assurance for Pakistan that India would not attack first, which allows it to choose the strategy of not attacking. If India abandons the policy, then it brings an element of uncertainty into the game. In such a case, when there is a deterioration in ties the next time, Pakistan will be uncertain of India’s actions. And given the history of wars that both countries have fought, Pakistan would be skeptical of winning a conventional military strike.

So, the best strategy for Pakistan would be to use nuclear weapons at the very beginning. Uncertainty in such case would indeed act as a catalyst in a nuclear strike from Pakistan’s end. This is because Pakistan will be afraid of India’s possible actions. If India uses its nuclear weapons, it will in all likelihood destroy its neighbour’s nuclear capabilities. Fearing that if such a situation arises, the chances of Pakistan losing the war using conventional force would be extremely high, the country will strike first.

Also Read- Second Wave of Worldwide Protests Demanding Swift Action on Climate Change

Thus, ambiguity is likely to escalate the chances of a nuclear war. The NFU policy is a tool to ensure peace in the region and should not be abandoned. If India sticks to its no-first-use policy, Pakistan’s best response should also be to not attack. The policy ensures that the countries do not gravitate towards the Nash equilibrium where both countries attack each other. It acts as a deterrent that forces both countries to remain at the Pareto superior condition of not attacking where both of them are better off. This game theoretic model also shows that if India asserts its commitment to NFU, Pakistan would choose to attack in spite of its warmongering. Pakistan would be fully aware of the repercussions that would follow if it attacks India. Apart from destruction, the fear of a social boycott by the world would also be a deciding factor for Pakistan. Thus, calmer heads should prevail in such times instead of a needless engagement in a futile standoff. (IANS)

Next Story

India’s Ties with Bangladesh at their Peak

In a caustic comment it said that while details of the lavish meals prepared for the Bangladeshi leader were enthusiastically reported

0
India, Bangladesh, Prime Minister
A Bangaldeshi media report claimed that there was little information available in the public domain about the agreements. Pixabay

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned to Dhaka from a successful four-day visit to India last week having concluded seven agreements. But the agreements have caused unease among many in Bangladesh. Critics have panned the agreements as mainly advantageous to India and of little benefit to Bangladesh. Other commentators have called on the government to publish full details of the agreements.

India and Bangladesh signed seven agreements and MOUs on October 5, 2019 and a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) agreement for transportation of goods. The agreements include a pact for supply of LNG as well as water from Feni River to India, and for transportation of Indian goods through Chittagong and Mongla ports in Bangladesh to Tripura.

A Bangaldeshi media report claimed that there was little information available in the public domain about the agreements. In a caustic comment it said that while details of the lavish meals prepared for the Bangladeshi leader were enthusiastically reported on by the Bangladeshi media, there was no information on the nature of the agreements.

The agreements to provide connectivity were described as regional connectivity, but one critic termed them bilateral connectivity as they served Indian interests and had scant benefit for Bangladesh. “India certainly stands to benefit, but Bangladesh is yet to make a tangible assessment of its gains,” it said.

India, Bangladesh, Prime Minister
India and Bangladesh signed seven agreements and MOUs on October 5, 2019 and a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) agreement for transportation of goods. Pixabay

India’s smaller South Asian neighbours have often perceived New Delhi as exploitative for using its clout to negotiate one-sided agreements advantageous to India while ignoring its neighbours’ interests.

Sheikh Hasina defended her government’s decision to supply 1.82 cusecs of water from the Feni river to India for drinking water purposes as a very small amount of water.

“If someone asks for drinking water, how can we deny it?” she said.

Regarding the agreement to supply of LPG, she added that it was not CNG that Bangladesh would be selling to India, but LPG, which was a byproduct in the refining of oil. In 2001, the possibility of selling natural gas to India had become a major controversy in Bangladesh with Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party objecting to the sale of a scarce resource.

Also Read- Severe Sleep Apnea Linked to Vision Loss in Diabetic Patients

The agreement to supply Feni river water has rankled as there has been no movement on finding a resolution on the sharing of Teesta River waters. The criticism acquired a serious turn with the murder of a second year student of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology by fellow students for criticizing Sheikh Hasina and the agreements in a Facebook post. The students were allegedly members of the Chhatra League, the youth wing of the ruling Awami League party.

India’s ties with Bangladesh are at their peak, among the best of India’s relations with its South Asian neighbours. But the criticism of the agreements with India is evoking memories old irritations and suspicions.

There are several pending issues between India and Bangladesh such as the huge trade deficit and sharing of Teesta river waters. Dhaka has been remarkably patient over New Delhi’s problems in agreeing to a resolution on sharing of the river waters.

Sheikh Hasina’s government has accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance that he would work towards a satisfaction resolution to the ticklish issue. The main impediment on the Teesta issue is the stance of the Mamata Bannerjee-led West Bengal government.

India, Bangladesh, Prime Minister
The agreements include a pact for supply of LNG as well as water from Feni River to India, and for transportation of Indian goods through Chittagong and Mongla ports. Pixabay

The National Register of Citizens exercise in Assam with identification of illegal migrants has raised grave concern in Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina has accepted for now the Indian stance that it is an internal matter of India. But comments by Indian leaders about pushing out the foreigners have their ripples in Bangladesh which facile assurances do not alleviate.

Building trust between the two neighbours has been a slow and steady process that involved wiping away the mistrust and suspicion that that had plagued relations for long. The resolution of the sharing of the Ganga waters removed a major irritant in the ties.

Sometime later, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s assurance that Bangladesh territory would not be used for anti-India activities and its effective implementation became the first major step in building the trust. The resolution of the Land Boundary Agreement for demarcating the border was the second positive factor in generating trust and confidence. It created the environment for closer cooperation between the two countries. Both Dhaka and New Delhi have used the friendly environment to construct a cooperative relationship.

Also Read- Microsoft Launches Project xCloud Game Streaming Service Preview for Xbox Users

New Delhi can easily lose that goodwill if the sentiment that India is uncaring and lackadaisical about issues of interest to Bangladesh begins to gain ground in Dhaka. New Delhi needs to be more sensitive to Dhaka’s concerns. It should speed up tackling the long pending issues before they build up into a major grievance in Bangladesh, which could make it difficult to implement already concluded agreements. (IANS)