Kosovo, Kargil, Kashmir
20th June 1999 aiindex @mnet.fr
June 19, 1999 FYI (South Asia Citizens Web) =========================== From: Times of India, Saturday 19 June 1999 / Op-Ed Kosovo, Kargil, Kashmir : Towards South Asia's Denuclearisation By PRAFUL BIDWAI THREE weeks into the conflict, Kargil highlights three sour ironies. First those who rationalised Pokhran II by citing the Chinese ``threat'' -- i.e. the vast majority -- are now praying for normalised relations with China, hyping up the significance of Mr Jaswant Singh's visit. Second, many who misrepresented the largely symbolic, importance of the Lahore summit as a substantive breakthrough and radical transformation of India-Pakistan relations are now talking about immutable mutual rivalry and impossibility of conciliation. Third, from total opposition to external involvement in India-Pakistan affairs, New Delhi has swerved towards soliciting active support for its stand on Kargil from all and sundry, especially the G-8. This major change has salient implications for Kashmir's future. The realisation is dawning of the weakness of India in its potential equation with Pakistan, one-seventh its size. Operation Vijay has ballooned into India's biggest military mobilisation since the Brasstacks (1986-87) and Zarb-i-Momin (1990) crises which nearly precipitated war. We have deployed elite troops and top-of-the line weaponry, including the entire combat aircraft range barring the Sukhoi-30. All our forces are on high alert. And the meter is ticking -- Rs 70 crore in lost aircraft, Rs 200 crore for artillery ammunition, Rs 600 crore for other ordnance and supplies. It is now plain that evicting the intruders will be a long drawn-out and bloody operation. The army conceded that a month ago. Now even chief of Air Staff Tipnis says the airstrikes are ``not the most effective means of using air power''. Therefore, there is growing pressure to open another front or otherwise extend the conflict and demand that the military be given a ``free hand'' to cross the LoC and surround the intruders. The conflict's intensification/extension could precipitate a runaway confrontation, with potential nuclear consequences. `Nuclear Sword' This is why the Kargil conflict must not be allowed to escalate, whatever the provocation. If Pakistan could ``brandish the nuclear sword'' even before the Chagai tests, there is a much higher probability now of its doing so. Crossing the LoC is the surest way for India to lose international goodwill. Yet our media is full of war-mongering. Any recipes for nuclear holocaust must be summarily rejected. But they underscore how profoundly strategic equations have been transformed after the subcontinent's nuclearisation. The change is decisive, indeed epochal. This at once limits India's options, eliminating some. In particular, the internationalisation of Kashmir now seems inevitable. So long as India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, Kashmir will remain a flashpoint for a potentially runaway conflict. It is in the vital interest of Indian and Pakistani citizens as well as the international community that their forces in eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation are physically separated, moved out of the range of fire. The long-term agenda in Kargil is not just to repulse the intruders, but make and keep the LoC truly inactive, free of skirmishes, shelling and incursion -- till the Kashmir problem is resolved through negotiations involving the Kashmiri people, India and Pakistan. Accurately speaking, Kashmir was sharply internationalised not in 1999 but on May 18, 1998, when Mr L K Advani famously warned Pakistan of ``hot pursuit'' and a ``pro-active'' policy in the now-changed ``geostrategic'' circumstances. For Islamabad, this was India's way of taunting it into testing. For the world, it highlighted a dual danger -- aggravation of the Kashmir crisis, with serious rights violations; and subcontinental nuclear war. Since then, nuclearisation has served not to enhance security or induce stability and confidence, but to dangerously raise the threshold of conventional conflict -- limited intrusion, low-intensity war, prolonged engagement. Kargil is only one of the many forms this can take under a nuclear shadow. Universal Values International concern regarding Kashmir will grow not merely because New Delhi and Islamabad have failed to prevent, defuse and limit tension in what is, after all, a part of Kashmir. The main reason for concern derives from far-reaching changes in the way vast numbers of people view national sovereignty and its limits. The world has moved away from the absolute, unlimited, sovereignty embedded in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which granted states the inherent, unfettered right to define and defend their security as they please. The change, beginning with World War II, was formalised in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on Genocide. These put citizens' rights and natural justice on a par with, if not higher than, state sovereignty. The principle is that sovereignty can be overruled where there are gross human rights violations, or a community's very survival is threatened. In parallel, jurisprudence on war (jus in bello) evolved, which placed limits on the methods of warfare that sovereign states may use. The 1996 World Court verdict declaring nuclear weapons ``generally incompatible'' with international law and directing nuclear states to speedily conclude negotiations for disarmament was a landmark. Whatever one's view of the Kosovo war -- and this writer opposed NATO's unilateral intervention, the UN's bypassing and use of disproportionate force -- it undeniably invoked the principle that human rights limit sovereignty; potential genocide must be prevented, if necessary, through military intervention. Universal values precede state interests. Kosovo, like Nigeria and Uganda's interventions in West Africa or India's in Bangladesh, could be only justified on that criterion. The criterion is unexceptionable, although its use in specific situations may be questionable. Global Viewpoint >From the global viewpoint, Kashmir could be a fit case for this criterion. So long as India and Pakistan retain nuclear weapons and the capacity for mass-destruction, quintessentially of non-combatants, they cannot convincingly cite bilateralism to resist international attention on, even mediation in, Kashmir. New Delhi cannot keep waving the Simla agreement, which deals with process, to thwart a discussion on substance. Pakistan cannot invoke the ``unfinished agenda of Partition''. Kashmir has gone way beyond that, especially after the fateful tests 13 months ago. Kashmir's internationalisation should be welcomed, provided it is effected in a multilateral, non-manipulative, transparent and just fashion -- not by a handful of self-avowed defenders of human rights, selectively defined. It is hard to argue against a reference to the World Court or a UN force that sanitises the LoC. The only alternative to that is South Asia's denuclearisation.