Pakistani-American Scholar on US Role as Peace Broker in South Asia

Pakistani-American scholar Dr. Moeed Yusuf has examined the role of the United States in defusing South Asian crises since the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan in 1998.

In "Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia" by Dr. Moeed Yusuf published by Stanford University Press, the author analyzes American diplomacy in three critical periods: Kargil conflict in 1999; the stand-off after the Indian Parliament attack in 2001 and the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008.

Yusuf argues that the US-Soviet Cold War deterrence model does not apply to the India-Pakistan conflict and offers his theory of "brokered bargaining". In chapters that detail the US role during three India-Pakistan crises, it is clear that the US rejected India's insistence on bilateralism in resolving India-Pakistan disputes.  The author says that "in each episode, the concern about the escalation forced the United States to engage, largely unsolicited, and use a mix of rewards (or promises of) and punishments (or threats of) with the regional rivals to achieve de-escalation--ahead of its broader regional or policy interests."

It seems that Yusuf accepts the widely-held assumption that India enjoys insurmountable conventional military superiority over Pakistan. Many speculate that the difference between the conventional military strengths of the two South Asian rivals is so great that Pakistan would be forced to quickly resort to the use of nuclear weapons in the event of an Indian attack. Such assumptions and speculations are challenged by Professor Walter Ladwig of the War Studies Department at London's Kings College, Meenakshi Sood of Delhi-based Indian Army think tank called The Center for Land Warfare Studies, and other scholars.

Professor Walter Ladwig believes that Pakistan’s conventional deterrence against India in the near to medium term is "much better than the pessimists allege".  Pakistan's  NCWF (New Concept of War Fighting) developed in response to India's CSD (Cold Start Doctrine) is designed to "mount a counter-offensive even before India fires the first shot", according to Indian analyst Meenakshi Sood. Ladwig sums it up well: "Despite a growing technological edge (over Pakistan) in some areas, Indian policymakers cannot be confident that even a limited resort to military force would achieve a rapid result, which is an essential pre-condition for deterrence failure".

One could argue that Yusuf gives too much credit to the US efforts in de-escalating India-Pakistan crises. It creates the impression that brown leaders are less rational than their white counterparts in dealing with existential crises. It perpetuates the stereotype that only a select few nations in the West can be trusted with weapons of mass destruction.  It justifies the nuclear Apartheid being pursued by the United States in the form of nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).  Could it be that the author's research is heavily influenced by the fact that he works for the United States Institute of Peace which is a US government-funded Washington think tank?

Overall, Dr. Moeed Yusuf's "Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia" is a thought provoking book. It should stimulate serious discussion of how regional nuclear powers like India and Pakistan can engage with each other more deeply to maintain peace and stability in their neighborhood. This will require both parties, India and Pakistan, to have sustained dialog to resolve core issues like Kashmir that underly recurring crises.

Related Links:

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India-Pakistan Conventional Military Balance

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America's "We're the Good Guys" Narrative

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MQM-RAW Link

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel



Comments

Riaz Haq said…
US and China are playing geopolitical game in Pakistan over CPEC that could determine which country becomes the next superpower


http://www.riazhaq.com/2018/09/us-china-competition-in-pakistan-cpecs.html
Riaz Haq said…
USIP's Moeed Yusuf: "#India-#Pakistan Conflict Leaves Great Powers Powerless #US helped prevent war in 2008 after #Mumbai. Those days are gone. #Terrorism isn’t the only worry. The “Line of Control” in #Kashmir is also a likely flashpoint". @USIP https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/10/954587-india-pakistan-mumbai-terror/

decade ago, the world watched in disbelief as terrorists from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group ripped through the Indian financial capital of Mumbai. By the time the 10 attackers were stopped four days after the assault began, they had killed 164 people—Americans and other foreign nationals among them—and left over 300 injured. India’s 9/11, as the Indian media dubbed it, had unfolded. India, having long seen the Lashkar-e-Taiba as a direct proxy of the Pakistani intelligence outfit, the Inter-Services Intelligence, blamed the Pakistani state for having directed the attack. A near-war crisis between the two nuclear neighbors ensued in its wake, offering a stark reminder why U.S. President Bill Clinton termed this part of the world “the most dangerous place” on Earth at the turn of the century.

Ten years after the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008, the Indian-Pakistani rivalry remains as entrenched as ever. While the two countries have avoided major wars, they continue to flirt with crises and have been engaged in low-intensity conflict in the disputed territory of Kashmir. This has unfolded in an environment devoid of any robust crisis management mechanisms aimed at reducing the risk of inadvertent escalation and providing dependable ways of directly negotiating a way out of a crisis. With nuclear weapons in the mix, the consequences of escalation could be catastrophic—and the possibility of such an outcome is greater today than it was on the eve of the Mumbai attacks.

India and Pakistan came “fleetingly close” to war during the Mumbai crisis, but fortunate circumstances prevented a military clash. The attacks came on the back of the single most promising peace process the two have ever had. The overall aura of positivity and the trusted channels of communication created through their five-year peace bid helped relieve tensions. A dovish Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh—who was genuinely interested in peace with Pakistan and hesitant to use military force to settle disputes, especially in South Asia’s nuclearized environment—also led India to forego the military option, even as the Indian public and media were calling for blood. Most importantly, third-party states, led by the United States, played crucial mediatory roles and were instrumental in nudging India and Pakistan to end the crisis.

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Pakistan has been increasingly vocal and aggressive in alleging Indian support of terrorist incidents in Pakistan.

Terrorism isn’t the only worry. The “Line of Control” that divides Indian and Pakistani control of Kashmir is also a likely flashpoint. Violence levels along the Line of Control were the highest in 15 years in 2017, with violations of a cease-fire agreed to in 2003 consisting of prolonged and often significant military hostilities.

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