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UNDERSTANDING THE SENSITIVITY OF THE SOUTH ASIAN REGION :: By Nasur Ullah


The South Asian region is far more sensitive than any other conflict ridden region like Middle East, Africa, Central Asia or any other part of the world. The fact that in this region two hostile nuclear powers always struggle to maintain the balance of power against each other. This sense of competition is merely for the achievement of policy objectives by the both sides. There are many issues between these two states, like dispute over distribution of water, Kashmir issue, and Cross-border infiltrations and so on. Recently, at the bordering area called Line of Control (LoC) a series of firing and shelling of mortars and other heavy weapons took place resulting huge collateral damage and civilian sufferings on both sides.

Historically, during the British colonial rule of the Indian sub-continent, the Indian Congress leaders often enjoyed significant errand and leverage before their British masters. For Muslims, the case was quite different because they were mostly under extreme ignorance and suppression mainly due to the fact of lack of modern education and access to the public services. They viewed the so-called one nation theory shrewd political tactics of the Congress leadership to keep them under subjugation. On the other hand, the Hindu population was mostly educated and majority was employed in government offices and the dominance in local business, having an image of a privileged group.
Realizing the fact, the Muslim leaders promoted the Two Nation theory demanding a separate homeland for the Muslim population. Ultimately, such variance resulted in the partition of the Sub-continent created India and Pakistan. For Pakistan, the partition was considered as a gift of nature and their due right, while India considered it as a loss of its integrated part, therefore, even after the post partition era, the Indian leadership never accepted an independent Pakistan open heartedly. Initially, there was a forceful takeover of more than 500 princely under Muslim rule. The Dogra ruled Muslim dominant state of Jammu and Kashmir also annexed to India against the will of the Kashmiri people. Consequently, right from the very beginning, the Kashmiri people continued their struggle for freedom because the annexation against their will was only for the reason to exploit their immense natural richness and continue to deprive the Kashmiri people from
their basic rights. The human Identity is also one of the basic human rights- a right that is bestowed to everyone by the nature. Nobody can ever compel or tone down anybody’s self identity. The imperial powers in the colonial era tried to suck up the self-identity of subject nations. History has witnessed that conflicts over identity arise when a nation feels that their sense of reorganization is denied. Because, the identity is the uniqueness that interprets the personal characteristics of any people from the other nations in the world, any peril to identity is likely to bring up strong resistance.
However, the Pakistan’s hard struggle for the preservation of its independence and sovereignty always indulged the Country into an arms race with India in both conventional as well as non-conventional grounds. The decade of 1970s infused a new sense of competition in the South Asian region. India being a conventional military power sought to further enhance its military capabilities by gaining the nuclear technology. However, for Pakistan such gloomy dreams of a hostile and aggressive state were more than a nightmare because Pakistan was repeatedly being threatened by the Indian intense aggression in 1948, 1965, and 1971 respectively. Pakistan had lost one of its major parts and had no other option only to intact its existence and sovereignty by avoiding further aggression by any hostile power. In 1972 the Indian prime minister, Indra Gandhi authorized the building of a nuclear explosive device, and in 1974, India tested its first nuclear device named it a peaceful full nuclear explosion.
Following the 1998, Indian nuclear tests, Pakistan having historical experiences of the hostility was compelled to ensure its survivability and had to opt the nuclear options. For Pakistan, the nuclear program was purely the result of strategic apprehensions about India. The scenario of South Asia dramatically changed after the nuclear explosions because now the two hostile neighbours became much more powerful than ever. However, the fear of nuclear exchange also arose in the world because both the neighbours remained hostile to each other throughout their history of existence.
Shortly after the nuclear explosions by both states, the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament took place, followed by the terrorist attacks and ethnic riots in Gujarat in early 2002 were the zenith of an evil process in the region. The military standoff on the LoC occurred as a result of these attacks. Moreover, especially the Kashmir issue continued to inflame the hostile relationship of both states, therefore, the U.S. President Bill Clinton termed Kashmir a nuclear flashpoint in South Asia. The Kashmir has always remained the most dependent variable of India-Pakistan relations. For Pakistan, it is a question of endurance. By terming Kashmir “the jugular vein of Pakistan”, Quaid-I-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah highlighted a geographic verity of considerable strategic significance. All the water flowing from the Kashmir quenches the thirst of Pakistani rivers and irrigates the land cultivation. In most of the areas, water is not only indispensable to life, but, it is life itself and this expression becomes very important, especially at this latitude which is equal to the deserts of Baluchistan, Sindh, Southern Punjab and the Rajasthan, where the rainfall is even less than in the Sahara. The water issue is progressively becoming the fundamental principle in the state to state relationship. The rising water wrangle has made South Asia a water-stressed region with growing conflicts. The rapid growth of population, agriculture and industrial usage results in water deficiency. The issue of irrigation water and its utilization for power generation is also becoming a matter of great concern and rising conflicts between India and Pakistan.
The BJP regime under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government after getting elected in the 2014 election, kept up with the tactics of creating a sense of fear amongst the Indian masses. His success was partially a credit for his “soft role” in Gujrat riots of 2002 killing more than 2,000 people of Muslim minority. The recent conflict between India and Pakistan at the Line of Control are a series of reflections of the Modi regime’s violent nature. The Modi administration is once again believed to be using the same culture of fear to get the popular public support for his political gains. The culture of fear is basically a term used in political science to interpret the tactics used by some politicians to incite fear in the general public to achieve political goals. Nazis employed these tactics to get popular public support for war otherwise would oppose.
Considering the fact and the sensitivity of issues in the nuclear capable South Asia region, it is need of hour to interfere in the regional issues by the great powers and the United Nations. The Kashmir issue and the Water dispute need to be resolved on very urgent basis.

:: The writer works as a Research Fellow in Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad and can be reached at [email protected]

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