As firing once again increases along the Line of Control, let us remember the one indisputable fact of the matter: There is no military solution. This is a fact for Pakistan and India, both, and the sooner the two nuclear powers acknowledge this fact, the sooner a real and sustainable solution can be put into place and the Kashmiri people can finally enjoy the peace and justice that they have sought since long.
The birth of Kashmir in its current, sharply contested geopolitical state was the result of an overplay of his hand by Maharajah Hari Singh that could never last. Taking a decision to force the Kashmiri people under Indian rule without taking their consultation first was doomed to breed resentment and ultimately fail, as has been demonstrated by the fact that India has been forced to place up to one million troops in the region and commit atrocities in order to suppress a popular uprising.
Unfortunately, Pakistan fares no better in this historical tale. Having received word of the Maharajah’s defiant act, Pakistan responded not by appealing to the international community to allow the Kashmiri people their God-given right to determine their own fate, but to jihadi militants. This too was a strategy doomed to fail, as has been proven since the past 67 years. Prophecies of imminent victory offered by jihadi recruiters like Hafiz Saeed aside, it’s time to admit that terrorism will never free Kashmir, but it can harm Pakistan.
First, let us not lose sight of the meaning of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ under a nuclear umbrella: Both sides will be destroyed. Whether or not Pakistan can destroy India is beside the point because Pakistan too will be destroyed. Nuclear war is like murder-suicide. You will kill your enemy, but you will die in the process also. Is it any coincidence that the acronym is ‘M.A.D.’?
Leaving aside nuclear war, the bitter truth is that Pakistan cannot win a conventional war with India. It’s not a matter of national honour, it’s a matter of basic math. India’s military has over 1 million active troops. Pakistan has only half that number. Pakistan’s total defence budget is about $7 billion. India’s is over $38 billion – over 5 times what Pakistan spends. And it would be impossible for Pakistan to ever catch up. This was explained by Dr Farrukh Saleem earlier this year.
‘Narendra Modi is likely to spend an additional $200 billion on stealth fighters, main battle tanks, backfire bombers, aircraft carriers, frigates and Scorpion submarines’.
Pakistan’s GDP is approximately $215 billion. This means that India could spend anadditional amount on defence that is equal to the entire output of our national economy. By comparison, India’s GDP is over $1.8 TRILLION.
Simply put, we cannot win a defence spending race with India.
This reality has not gone unnoticed in India. Speaking about recent tensions along the Line of Control, Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley warned Pakistan that India would make continued military tensions ‘unaffordable’.
Militancy is only fueling India’s violent over reactions and it is the innocents who are paying the price. Meanwhile, Pakistan is becoming less secure as a result of crucial national security resources being diverted from the fight against anti-Pakistan militants to fuel a hopeless war in Kashmir. We cannot abandon the people of Kashmir, but this means we must abandon the strategy of jihad. We must adopt the strategy that should have been adopted almost 70 years ago and appeal to the international community to live up to their promises in UN Resolution 47. Above all, we must take actions that will de-escalate violence along the Line of Control. Otherwise, there may be no Kashmir left to save.