Enough has been written about the mistakes by both sides that led to the inevitable cancelling of NSA level talks between Pakistan and India. For the time being it is unnecessary to say more on this topic. However there is another point which has not been discussed which requires attention if we are to be successful which is that certain voices especially in media seem to be projecting a very bad message that they seem to think is a helpful negotiating tactic: Nuclear blackmail.
The phrase is one that is uttered so often we may not even notice anymore. Essentially, it is the constant reference to Pakistan as “a nuclear power” and Pakistan and India as “nuclear armed neighbors”. It is nothing more than a statement of fact that both Pakistan and India are nuclear armed, but the question is why the constant reminding of this fact? To begin to answer the question we can look at some recent news reports.
The most obvious example is the statement of PM’s Foreign Advisor Sartaj Aziz who announced that “India acts as if they are a regional superpower, we are a nuclear-armed country and we know how to defend ourselves”. What is the point of this saber rattling? It is obviously a warning that India should not get too bold because Pakistan might use nuclear weapons.
Inadvisable as it may be, reminding an adversary is one thing. Using that same threat to try to get other powers on our side is blackmail. This is what Muhammad Saeed wrote today:
From the perspective of Pakistan America’s seriousness and sincerity to ease tension between two countries is entirely dependent on nudging UN and India to resolve the Kashmir dispute that is core issue for any future triggering of an all out nuclear war in the region.
In other words, it is a threat: If US does not do what Pakistan wants, we may start a nuclear war. This is blackmail pure and simple. Can we really expect it to work?
No. The result of such obvious blackmail does not strengthen Pakistan’s position it strengthens India’s. These types of threats only feed the Indian backed narrative that Pakistan is unstable and irresponsible and that rather than keeping nuclear weapons as a deterrent we are keeping them as a means to bully other countries into doing what we want.
The plight of the Kashmiri people is one that should effect all countries that claim to love freedom, especially the United States who has its own history of fighting against colonial subjugation. When we use nuclear blackmail, though, we are actually sabotaging the Kashmiri cause and playing into India’s hands.