The growing tension between Asian neighbors India and Pakistan is now deemed to be one of the most dangerous crises to ever happen post-Cold War era. So dangerous that experts are now suspecting that this conflict could trigger a nuclear exchange in the region. Needless to say, this unwelcome development won’t spell well for everyone else around the world.
On February 14, Valentines Day, the world was rocked over the news of suicide bombing attacks in Kashmir which killed more than forty Indian paramilitary police personnel. Earlier suspicion indicated the involvement of Pakistani-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
A few days later, Indian authorities sent fighter jets to bombard what has been believed to be JeM’s training camp located in the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Indian officials claimed that the operation eradicated a large number of militants in the area.
Barely twenty-four hours after that Indian air raid, Pakistan made a counterattack. This led to a fierce dogfight that took place within the Indian airspace. Pakistani government said that at least one Indian jet was shot down during the skirmish.
The pilot of the downed aircraft, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured by Pakistan but was later on released in what appears to be a good-will gesture by the Imran Khan administration.
The tension seems to have eased, at least temporarily. But the impending fear of a much bigger, more destructive situation hangs in the air.
A Volatile Situation
This latest confrontation between India and Pakistan would be the first time that the two Asian countries made use of their respective airpowers against each other.
But more than that, this incident would be the first time in history when a nuclear weapon-powered state has directly confronted its nuclear weapon-powered counterpart.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, India is estimated to have in possession some 140 nuclear weapons. Pakistan, on the other hand, boasts a much larger arsenal numbering close to 200.
Even scarier is the fact that the latter country also holds an ever-growing inventory of small tactical nuclear weapons. These particular types of weapons, as FAS added, are designed to counter conventional incursion by India onto Pakistan’s territory.
That last statement should strike fear in anyone’s hearts. This goes to tell that probably in the next confrontation, Pakistan, or even India, might resort to integrate some sort of nuclear-type weapons on their retaliatory strategies.
Some experts call it a “mini-nuclear war” but for everyone else, this could be the start of a full-range nuclear exchange.
A Bleak Endgame Scenario
Not to ruin anyone’s day, but according to recent studies, a regional nuclear war, such as the one that will likely be fought within the Indian subcontinent, is capable enough to cause the deaths of close to 2 billion people around the world.
This scale of damage doesn’t take into account the possibility that the respective allies of these concerned parties will join in the fray. Islamabad, for example, has China and Russia on its back. India, meanwhile, has the backing of the US and Europe.
We can only hope that the international community would be fast enough to render mediation to this pressing issue before it gets out of hand.
A lot of peace-keeping strategies can be implemented, actually. For instance, condemning further acts of violence as well as building a space where the conflict can be mediated and be smoothened out.