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MIND Statement on Escalation of Indo-Pak Hostilities

The present escalation of hostilities and actual engagement between Pakistani and Indian forces has the potential to snowball into a major conflict. This is the first occasion when engagement of this kind has taken place between the two countries since the 1971 Indo-Pak war. That it is happening today when the sub-continent is under a nuclear shadow, makes the situation especially alarming for people on both sides of the border. When the two countries had conducted nuclear tests a year ago, it was claimed by both Govts. that this would actually work towards stabilising the security climate in the region.

The recent spate of hostilities, barely 3 months after the Lahore declaration, shows how fragile the security climate in the region actually is. What makes the situation doubly dangerous is the fact that the legitimacy of both Governments, at this point of time, is seriously compromised. While legitimate security concerns need to be addressed, there is absolutely no room for military adventurism under the looming threat of a nuclear shadow. Violation of the Line of Control by either side should be avoided at all costs. It is of critical importance that both sides excercise utmost restraint, work towards cessation of hostilities immediately and press for a peaceful settlement of disputes.

MIND Statement (2/7/99):
Stop This Insanity

Voices from within the ruling establishments of India and Pakistan are openly talking about the possibility of a nuclear exchange. In both cases, the purpose is to display their supposed nuclear resolve. What it actually expresses is their mutual nuclear insanity. For nothing whatsoever — no loss of territory, however large, no humiliation to national pride, however great — can justify a nuclear exchange.

The fact that nuclear threats and counter-threats are now being bandied about shows the utter irrationality of trying to rely for one’s security on the illusory power of nuclear deterrence. There is never, and can never be, any guarantee that this will not break down and if it does there can only be disaster for both sides, not victory or defeat for one and the other. Moreover, deterrence is most likely to fail in conditions where nuclear rivals are in war-time or near war-time conditions. South Asia is the only part of the world where such conditions have repeatedly surfaced for over 50 years because of a persisent rivalry between the same two countries, one which shows no signs of abating in the foreseeable future. It is simple common sense, not external propaganda, that makes South Asia the most dangerous nuclear flashpoint in the world today.

Pakistan is to be blamed for starting this war in Kargil and it is both necessary and legitimate to demand that the status quo ante be restored. Indian efforts to this end should be supported. While India has declared a "no first use" policy regarding nuclear weapons, this in no way can alter the fact that India is primarily to blame for nuclearising the South Asian region in the first place by carrying out the May 1998 tests and initiating the dynamic that followed. By doing this, India followed by Pakistan added a terrible new dimension and risk to their ongoing tensions which should never have been introduced.

Elimination of the possibility that this or future conventional conflicts between India and Pakistan can ever escalate into a nuclear exchange, regardless of which country begins it or why, can only be done if both countries rapidly and fully reverse direction to denuclearise themselves and the region even as we continuously fight for total global disarmament. It is possible to start this process only if India accepts the responsibility for initiating such a process of reversal.

Today, the very absurdity and insanity of the nuclear discourse that has emerged in both countries has given us the clearest possible warning of the dangers that lie ahead if we do not take this course.