November 22, 2002

Chinese Researcher: Fourth Indo-Pak War Unlikely

For the time being, the leaders of India and Pakistan are not likely to resolve the Indo-Pak dispute by means of war, and the outbreak of a fourth war between the two South Asian countries is even less likely, said a Chinese researcher of international relations.

In recent days, military buildup and frequent trading of gun-fire along the Indo-Pak border regions and along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan in Kashmir have touched off another round of mounting tensions between the two nuclear rivals this year and brought them to the brink of war.

However, in spite of the possibility that new factors might further escalate the tight situation, thus triggering the outbreak of a war, there are certain complications which might save the two from fighting their fourth war, said Ma Jiali, a researcher with the Beijing-based China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, in an interview.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since Britain partitioned the subcontinent in 1947.

And the two have mobilized a million servicemen along their border backed by fighter jets and heavy artillery in a build-up triggered by a raid on India's parliament last December.

Firstly, both the Indian and Pakistani governments are not intended to go into war. There is no sign that the two countries are preparing for a large-scale war, said Ma.

Ever since the latest round of Indo-Pak tensions broke out on May 14 when 34 people were killed in two separate attacks in India-controlled Kashmir, the two sides are believed to have been exercising maximum restraint, mindful of taking any action that might upgrade their low-indensity conflicts to a state of war, Ma pointed out.

The incidents, which pushed Indo-Pakistan relations to a new low with New Delhi threatening to go to war if Islamabad did not stop what Indian leaders teamed as cross-border terrorism in Kashmir and elsewhere in the country, are nothing new but an episode in the long-time tense ties between the two, he added. If India were to launch a cross-border attack on Pakistan, it would risk losing those moral supports it has garnered so far.

Secondly, the leaderships of India and Pakistan are fully aware of domestic realities which are preventing them from fighting a new war, said Ma.

In spite of the constant military buildup, there are certain forces in India, opposing to going into war with neighboring Pakistan and calling for political solution to the conflicts.

India, whose economy is back on the track of lofty growth, views a successful economic reform as of greater importance to its establishment as a powerful country and the buildup of its comprehensive national strength. In Pakistan, whose economy is in a relatively difficult situation over recent years, there are rising voices from politicians, scholars and even opposition parties, saying that a war with India does not serve Pakistan's interests, said the Chinese researcher.

Thirdly, the international community is seriously concerned over the volatile situation in the South Asian sub-continent. And the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, are calling for restraint from both sides so as to lower the intensity of the military confrontation and pave the way for a political solution, said Ma.

Fourthly, words on a likely nuclear war from the two nuclear powers serve as threatening messages to the other side, who remains fully aware of the fallout of a tragic nuclear war, which might end up in a no-win situation, said Ma.

A prolonged tense relationship between India and Pakistan is detrimental to the two countries and regional stability, said Ma, adding that it will also hinder their efforts to develop ties with the world's big powers who share the common desire for forging balanced ties with India and Pakistan.

(Xinhua News Agency June 3, 2002)

In This Series
Musharraf: Nuclear War Unlikely

Western Nations Advise Citizens to Leave India

India, Pakistan Fire Artillery in Kashmir

India Steps Up Diplomatic Offensive

Bush Sends Rumsfeld to Calm India, Pakistan



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