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Risk of India-Pakistan crises remains high, says expert

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Former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee retired Gen Ehsanul Haq, ex-foreign secretary Riaz Khokhar and Nust Professor Dr Rifaat Hussain are seen at the book launch on Wednesday.
Former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee retired Gen Ehsanul Haq, ex-foreign secretary Riaz Khokhar and Nust Professor Dr Rifaat Hussain are seen at the book launch on Wednesday.

ISLAMABAD: The risk of India-Pakistan crises remains high and the United States and other actors - China, Russia and Britain - will continue to show up to influence the trajectory of crises. It is, therefore, in the interest of the US and Pakistan to maintain a healthy relationship with each other, said Dr Moeed Yusuf on Wednesday.

Dr Yusuf was speaking at the launch of his latest book, Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environment: US Crisis Management in South Asia, organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).

Commentators at the launch included former Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee chairman retired Gen Ehsanul Haq, former foreign secretary Riaz Khokar and professor at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) Dr Rifaat Hussain.

The book examines India-Pakistan crises from the 1998 nuclear tests, and is focused on the US role in the Kargil dispute, the 10-month military standoff between 2001 and 2002, and the Mumbai crisis following the 2008 terrorist attacks.

Dr Yusuf’s is the first book by a Pakistani scholar that produces original scholarship on the issue of nuclear deterrence and crises between two nuclear states.

Dr Yusuf explained that one of the reasons India and Pakistan said they acquired nuclear weapons was to gain greater strategic independence from powerful external actors such as the US. His research, however, shows that since the ’98 tests, both sides have become more dependent on the US and other outside actors to diffuse crisis situations.

Mr Haq asked whether the growing Indo-US strategic partnership could redefine Washington’s mediating role between India and Pakistan.

He said the US enjoys and would continue to enjoy supremacy in the field of surveillance and monitoring, which enables it to continue its role as a peace broker in the foreseeable future.

The strategic bias of the US is expected to gain more prominence in the context of the Indo-US convergence of interests, Mr Khokar said.

He added that unfortunately, the element of trust between India and Pakistan at present is lacking to an unimaginable level, and India and Pakistan should work towards building an environment where candid talks could be held.

Dr Hussain remarked that the concept of “brokered bargaining” put forth by Mr Yusuf is as much a theory of process as it is that of outcome, and makes his work an outstanding original contribution towards enhancing the understanding of South Asian nuclear crises management.

He also highlighted the centrality of the Afghan factor in the trilateral model, which is missing in Dr Yusuf’s work.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2018