Two nuclear armed states have never gone to war as it has conventionally been known to the world. The risk of such an eventuality looms large in South Asian region since early morning on Tuesday. In the last two days, Pakistan and India have been engaged in air battles, started by the Indian side when it violated international borders with an incursion into Pakistani air space. Subsequently, Pakistani forces struck down two Indian fighter jets, one of which had crossed the Line of Control. Better sense prevailed, however, and very amicable messages were delivered by Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations, urging India to abandon the collision course and come to the dialogue table.
At this juncture, it is imperative that the international community should step up its efforts to de-escalate the situation in the region. A conflict between two nuclear-armed states is simply not an option the region, or the world community, can afford. Pakistan has reiterated its commitment to dialogue, including on the issue of terrorism. The United Nations and the global powers including United States, China and Russia must now intervene and put pressure on India to accept PM Khan’s offer.
It is important to highlight here that the Indian side’s act of aggression was a blatant violation of the international law. That must not be taken lightly by the international community since it puts in jeopardy the stability of the international system of states, and the global order. Therefore, economic and diplomatic means must now be used to alienate the hawkish elements in New Delhi, and to enable those invested in regional peace and stability to take the driving seats. The regional actors have an added responsibility here since vested interests in New Delhi are ruining the economic opportunities that have emerged in the last few years as a result of major plans like the Belt-and-Road-Initiative (BRI).
On Pakistan’s part, we must now demonstrate our commitment to peace and stability to the international community by actions, meaning we must keep treating the Indian Air-force (IAF) officer captured in the raid in accordance with the Geneva Convention. Additionally, we must also expedite efforts against all individuals and groups known to have been involved in terrorist activities anywhere across the globe. As has been stated by the PM, these are enemies of the nation and there should be no two ways about cracking down on them. Besides, a concerted action against such elements will prove to the international community that Pakistan walks the talk when it says it is committed to regional peace and stability. This will perhaps also be our biggest support for the Kashmiris’ cause as well. *
Published in Daily Times, February 28th 2019.