Growing tensions between India and Pakistan could send the neighbouring countries skidding into a nuclear war, a prominent political scientist has warned.
“It could happen, and it would be catastrophic for both countries,” Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum author Stephen P. Cohen said. Tensions reached boiling point over the weekend when militants attacked an army base in the Uri area near the Line of Control on Sunday morning, leaving 18 soldiers dead.
A report published by New York Times stated that the escalating tension presented a challenge to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has vowed to bring about an economic revival in the country which could only be attained through regional peace.
The report went on to quote former Indian-held Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah remarking that things in Kashmir had remained relatively calm since 2010. This, Abdullah said, made the Indian government believe that the turbulent days of the past were over.
The report also pointed to “warning signs” pertaining to rising unrest among young people in the region over the last two years. The killing of 22-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by Indian forces in early July served as one such instance, sparking protests across the region.
“Wani should have served as an alarm bell for the government system,” The Wire editor Siddharth Varadarajan said. “Why would a young man, instead of taking up engineering, adopt a course that any reasonable person would tell him would end up in death?” he said.
Separately, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday made a strong case for Kashmir during his address at the 71st United Nations General Assembly session. “Peace and normalisation between Pakistan and India can’t be achieved without the solution of Kashmir,” he said. “We should resolve our differences in Jammu and Kashmir. Talks are in the interest of both the countries,” Sharif added.
Ahead of the UN General Assembly session, the primer minister and Army chief General Raheel Sharif discussed different options in the apparent backdrop of ongoing hostility with India. Going a step further on Thursday, the Indian army moved heavy artillery to forward bases along the 778-kilometre Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.
This article originally appeared on The New York Times, a partner of The Express Tribune.