Thursday, 29 May 2008

How to avoid a nuclear war in South Asia

How to avoid a nuclear war in South Asia
A letter to Bill Clinton 4 June 1998

Dear President Bill Clinton
RE: How to avoid a nuclear war in South Asia

With the nuclear explosions by India and Pakistan the region of South Asia has become very volatile and extremely dangerous. Even before these explosions it was the most militarised and tensed area with skirmishes often taking place between armed forces of India and Pakistan.

These armed clashes take place on the border of Kashmir which is forcibly divided by India and Pakistan; and it is quite possible that this tension and regular clashes could lead to a full-scale war. This is something we must all work together to avoid, because this war, if it takes place, would be very different to previous wars between them. We Kashmiris have a special interest in avoiding such eventuality, as we DONOT want Kashmir to become a battle ground for the nuclear war.

One may ask who is responsible for the present situation? Is it India and Pakistan or is it the ‘World Community’ who failed to fulfil its obligation in resolving the Kashmir dispute, the root cause of the conflict between India and Pakistan. If Kashmir dispute had been resolved then there was no need for India and Pakistan to arm themselves to teeth and create this atmosphere of distrust, tension and animosity which had resulted in three wars and the killing of thousands of innocent people.

If the world community is serious about the spread of the nuclear arms and wants to
avoid its possible use in future, especially in the South Asia, then it has to work out a
strategy, which is rational and practical. The threat of economic sanctions has not deterred India and Pakistan to do what they thought was their national interest. The time for sanctions perhaps has passed. The slamming of some economic sanctions by few countries would not help the current situation. The clock cannot be turned back. They are both nuclear powers now, and it is irrelevant whether ‘the group of five’ accepts it or not.

If appropriate action is not taken then that would be tantamount to encourage other ambitious states to pursue the same line, hence making the world more unsafe. The root cause of the conflict between India and Pakistan is the Kashmir dispute – both countries have territorial claims on Kashmir. It is, therefore, imperative to resolve the Kashmir dispute before any progress can be made on other fronts.

Whatever arguments India and Pakistan may have in support of their claim on
Kashmir, it is clear that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed. It is not part of either India or Pakistan and its future is yet to be determined according to democratically expressed will of the Kashmiri people. Since both governments have entrenched positions on Kashmir, and it is not practically possible for any one country to give Kashmir away to the other, it is better to find alternative solution which both may accept, albeit reluctantly.

The UN resolutions on Kashmir accept the disputed nature of Kashmir, although they, to some extent, limit the Kashmiris right to complete independence. The present options available to Kashmiris, either in the UN resolutions or in the Simla Pact, do not provide a viable and acceptable solution to the all parties concerned. The current situation is that Kashmir is divided with forces of India and Pakistan directly facing each other and exchanging fires, and this can escalate into a full- scale war. In order to avoid this happening the World Community has a role to play and that is to exert pressure on India and Pakistan to have:
· An immediate cessation of hostilities by all armed personnel, i.e. Indian forces,
Pakistani forces and the militants;
· Withdrawal of forces from Kashmir (or at least from the border areas) to be replaced by the forces of the UN to maintain law and order. These forces could be
from countries which are friendly to both India and Pakistan;
· Resumption of talks to work out a mechanism to begin tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and the Ksashmiri representatives, either under the auspices of the UN or countries like Japan and Germany;
· Once a workable and acceptable formula is worked out to decide the future of the Whole State of Jammu and Kashmir, then India and Pakistan could be persuaded to sign CTBT.

I understand the Kashmir issue is a complicated one and India and Pakistan have deep suspicions about each other, but all these obstacles can be overcome if the World Community really means business. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front which stands for a democratic, non – communal, united and independent Kashmir is willing to co –operate with all those who want to have peace and stability in Kashmir.

I hope that you will give serious thought to the points expressed above and make sincere effort to find a solution in the next meeting of the G8. I also hope that your government would not hesitate to contact the JKLF either for further talks or clarifications.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely

Shabir Choudhry
Diplomatic Head of JKLF

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