Pakistan-India Conflict and American-Russian Cold War:
Parallels and Differences
By YesPakistan.com Staff
The India-Pakistan conflict is a mix of ironies and sad truths. While the Indian
and Pakistani governments are preoccupied with the race towards acclaiming the
international status of 'nuclear power', one wonders, of what use would this
'power' be to either of the countries in their economic, civil defense, and
developmental fronts? How could the nuclear strength be considered a 'power'
at the expense of economically and academically weak citizens of the nation?
This paradox could perhaps be partially found in the American-Russian Cold War
as well. However, there are significant differences!
FIRST: More than a decade after the end of the Cold War, both the United
States and Russia maintain vast nuclear arsenals. During the cold war, the United
States had 550 ICBMs -- long-range missiles that could reach Moscow in a half
an hour. A single U.S. nuclear submarine carried up to 192 warheads and could
kill or maim about a third of Russia's population, some 50 million people. The
United States had 18 of these submarines. All told, the explosive power of America's
nuclear warheads was 100,000 times greater than the single Hiroshima bomb.
India and Pakistan seem to have moved a step further in terms of their 'time-efficiency'.
Interestingly, unlike the U.S.-Russia 30 minutes alert, India's and Pakistan's
nuclear-armed missiles and strike aircraft are on a hair-trigger, with only
3-minute alert! It implies that Pakistani and Indian citizens would not even
have enough time to protect themselves in the case of radioactive fallout!
A single false alarm could lead to a nuclear exchange that would kill two million
men, women, and children immediately and gravely injure 100 million. Indian
and Pakistani nuclear reactors are prime targets in any war. Pakistan and India
both have missile launchers aligned at the border, with missiles that can reach
about 3,000 miles! This is enough to target all major cities in South Asia and
most of West Asia.
SECOND: It's been observed that as the time passed on during and after
the Cold War up until today, the nuclear race has been taking several ugly and
aggressive turns, as more and more nuclear powers try to outdo each other. For
over a decade after the Second World War, the United States' territory was not
vulnerable to massive damage by Soviet nuclear forces. There was consequently
no balance of power during that period. As the Soviets developed their nuclear
and missile capabilities, they regained the balance of power. A new world order
based on a balance of terror superseded the existing order based on unilateral
terror. Meanwhile Britain and France also acquired the nuclear capability.
When the number of players increased, the rules had to be changed. Amongst
the innumerable twists and turns of the Cold War, three major strategic concepts
were developed: massive retaliation, mutually assured destruction, and flexible
response. These concepts were interspersed with, and supported by, other concepts
like first-strike capability, second-strike capability, limited nuclear war,
and pre-emptive strike.
Therefore, while the idea of 'mutually assured' and 'indiscriminate mass' destruction
were in the development process during the time of Cold War, now they have certainly
become an underlying assumption for India and Pakistan forces. Now, instead
of the armed combatants fighting each other, the idea of indiscriminately killing
hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and destroying the whole infrastructure
of a nation seems to have become an accepted norm. But are the masses of India
and Pakistan ready for such potential massive catastrophe? Are they even aware
of the magnitude of ongoing destruction that would be caused by a 'little slip'
on either side?
THIRD: If these two South Asian governments are ever-ready to spend
millions of dollars of their GDP on nuclear technology to enhance their strike
efficiently, what have they done about the defense and survival of their citizens?
Are the masses educated and informed about the steps to take to survive the
radioactive fallout? Not to our surprise, unlike the American and Russian citizens,
the ordinary Pakistanis and Indians are still groping in the dark.
It is known that both during and following the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962,
millions of Americans built fallout shelters and obtained survival information.
Similarly, almost all Russians have compulsory instruction to teach them about
the effects of nuclear and other mass-destruction weapons, and what they can
do to improve their chances of surviving. Comprehensive preparations have been
made for the crisis evacuation of urban Russians to rural areas, where they
and rural Russians would make high-protection- factor expedient fallout shelters.
Blast shelters to protect millions have been built in the cities and near factories
where essential workers would continue production during a crisis. Wheat reserves
and other foods for war survivors have been stored outside target areas. About
100,000 civil defense troops are maintained for control, rescue, and post-attack
recovery duties. Does Pakistan have any of these blast shelters and other self-defense
mechanisms in place, or even have plans to implement some in the near future?
FOUIRTH: Before the two countries could even think about engaging in any form
of biological warfare, the following issue also requires a thought: Whether
the presence of nuclear technology should undermine the role of conventional
ground, air, and naval defense forces? i.e. would it be prudent to maintain
conventional forces at their present strength?
The argument for downsizing the forces suggests, that it will make our nuclear
deterrence more credible. On the contrary, the fact is that any reduction in
conventional forces would weaken the deterrence. No wonder, America and Russia
kept increasing the size of their conventional forces during and after the Cold
War. Deterrence is successful only if it is able to prevent the enemy from aggression.
If we cut down our conventional forces, we will cut our options down to only
If Pakistan were to downsize its forces, say, by half, the balance of power
in the region would be tremendously tilted in favor of India. Moreover, how
will Pakistan deal with the Kashmir conflict if it plans to reduce its ground
forces and rely solely on its nuclear power, while India continues to pump in
tens of thousands of its troops into the disputed area of Kashmir to maintain
its oppressive regime? Pakistan's aim should be to deter war, not merely nuclear
It is imperative for Pakistani citizens and politicians to discuss, question,
and address such crucial issues, with greatest emphasis on the need to educate
the masses about the steps to take and skills to learn to survive the nuclear
Date/Time Last Modified: 6/18/2002 8:06:14 AM
© 2004, Human Development
Foundation. All rights reserved.
1350 Remington Road, Suite W, Schaumburg, Il. 60173
Toll Free: (800) 705-1310 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org