It has now been more than a month since India effectively annexed 60% of Kashmir. India sent 125,000 troops, cut all communications and imposed a curfew to maintain its occupation. Despite uproar from Pakistan and many around the world the global powers washed their hands of this belligerence by saying the matter was an internal issue for India. It is now clear that the meeting between Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump in July in Washington, where Trump offered to mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, was no random suggestion. We now know the US was fully aware India would be annexing Kashmir and gave it the green light.
So what of Pakistan’s response?
Imran Khan wants to negotiate with India when the Ummah wants military action. Imran Khan wants to turn to the international community when the Ummah wants to see the liberation of Kashmir. Imran Khan is weighing up the cost of war, when the Ummah is weighing up her honour. Imran Khan has tried to frighten the Ummah with the threat of a nuclear war in the region, when the Ummah wants to take up arms herself. The Pakistan regime has pursued a clear strategy of non-action and deflection from dealing with a belligerent India and it has based this upon a mythical narrative.
Myth 1 – Pakistan’s Economy Cannot Sustain War With India
Imran Khan took to Twitter on 3 Sep 2019, tweeting: “I want to tell India that war is not a solution to any problem. The winner in war is also a loser. War gives birth to host of other issues.” Foreign Minister Shah MehmoodiQureshi was even more categorical, in an interview with BBC Urdu he said “Pakistan never followed an aggressive policy and always preferred peace, the current government of Pakistan has repeatedly offered India to start talks.” He reiterated war was not an option to deal with the issue of Kashmir.
It is true that the Indian economy is ten times that of Pakistan. But so are its liabilities. Although the GDP of India is $2.5 trillion, and Pakistan is only $350 billion, India’s government expenditure is $740 billion, while Pakistan’s is merely $70 billion. Generally, in all other economic indicators they are more or less the same .
The Pakistani economy has a very important advantage, it is more self-reliant than the Indian economy which is highly dependent on jittery foreign companies who will take flight as soon as there is a hint of hostilities. Hence, in any war scenario the Indian economy will suffer exponentially more than the Pakistani economy which is already in a difficult financial position. The principal foreign partner and investor in Pakistan’s economy is China which on the issue of Kashmir has a vested interest. China’s deteriorating relationship with the US coupled together with the already substantial investment it has made in the CPEC initiative is unlikely to sanction Pakistan. The critical issue for the Pakistani economy is access to petroleum products which it obtains from Saudi Arabia, who will definitely succumb to US pressure and sanction Pakistan. But this reliance is self-inflicted again under US pressure. Petroleum products are available to Pakistan from other sources. Iran will, for example, supply Pakistan oil products at more favourable rates than Saudi Arabia but political rather than economic considerations intervene. Furthermore oil supply to India is also in a precarious position as the bulk of India’s oil comes from Iran who’s shipping lanes traverse Pakistani waters.
Rather than Pakistan’s economy being weak in the face of India, on most indicators it is India’s economy that will struggle in any war scenario. Whilst the Pakistani regime continues to argue that its economy cannot sustain war with India, successive governments have sustained the war in Afghanistan and the tribal areas since the US ordered Pakistan to do so. Clearly its political consideration rather than economic that are driving the rulers of Pakistan.
Myth 2 – India’s Army is Much Bigger Than Pakistan’s and is Therefore Superior
It is true that India has a larger army, navy and airforce than Pakistan, but this is simply a paper exercise. India has for long had a huge army which it has struggled to arm with modern weapons. A Pakistani invasion has influenced India’s army’s posture for long, its real challenge is internal from the array of separatist groups, which the army has struggled to contend with.
India is still one of the world’s largest importers of military equipment and despite two decades of efforts to develop its internal military capability it has failed to develop quality platforms. Pieter D. Wezeman, a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said: “I don’t think there’s another country in the world that has tried as hard as India to make weapons and failed as thoroughly.” Even attempts at military modernisation, India has suffered from numerous problems. In 2012 a letter from Army Chief Gen. V.K. Singh to Prime Minister was leaked which highlighted the internal problems. The army general highlighted: “India’s million man-plus armed forces are unfit to fight a war, the army’s tanks have run out of ammunition, the air defense is as good as obsolete and the infantry is short of critical weapons. The state of India’s military is alarming, the country’s air defense is 97% obsolete, while the elite Special Forces are woefully short of essential weapons. The Army’s entire fleet of tanks is devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks.” 
India’s army is further constrained by the rampant abuse of recruits and problems with morale and suicide . When it comes to operational commitments the Indian Army is fully committed, with over 700,000 soldiers deployed in Kashmir, and a simmering Naxalites revolt is central India. It then has border disputes with China and a 4000km border with Bangladesh where it intends to forcibly repatriate over two million people. Then it has to assemble a force to overwhelm Pakistani defences in the Punjab and Sindh sectors, then would be a huculean ask for any military. Additionally, according to Indias Ministry of Defence, since 1963 more than 490 MiG-21s have been lost in crashes, resulting in the deaths of 171 pilots. The Russian-made aircraft that form the backbone of the Indian fleet have been the most accident-prone; they have become known as the “flying coffin” or the “widow maker”.
India’s army is larger than Pakistan’s but this in reality means it has more problems than Pakistan too.
Myth 3 – India and Pakistan are Nuclear Powers and a War Between Nuclear Powers Will Lead to the Destruction of Both Nations
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has pledged that his country would not initiate any military conflict with India, warning of the risk to the world of nuclear war breaking out between the South Asian neighbours: “We are two nuclear-armed countries, if tensions rise then there is a danger to the world from this,” Khan said at the International Sikh Convention on 2 Sep 2019. “From our side, we will never act first.” This was further to Khan’s comments from 3 Jul 2019, where he said: “nuclear war was not an option and Pakistan would surrender its nuclear weapons provided India did the same.”
Imran Khan has shown poor comprehension on nuclear strategy and the politics of nuclear weapons. Under Khan’s logic, if India abandoned nukes, Khan would do the same, but leave the people of Pakistan vulnerable to both conventional and nuclear threats from America, the Zionist entity, Russia or even China. Pakistan’s conventional military strength is not enough to deter these powers from invading or teaming up with a disarmed nuclear India to dismember the country. It is essential for Pakistan to keep its nuclear arsenal both as a deterrent and a force multiplier should war break out. The lesson learned from North Korea’s nuclear standoff with America is that nuclear weapons discourage invasions. Where the absence of nuclear weapons—in countries like Iraq, Syria and Libya—encourages nuclear powers like the US to invade with impunity. This important utility of nuclear warheads seems to escape the cricketer-turned-politician.
There is one certainty in war and that is the law of reciprocation, if both sides possess an unconventional weapons capability then neither side will use it, but if only one side has this capability then with enough to lose the side possessing this capability will certainly use it. This has been borne out through history, when all sides in WW2 possessed chemical weapons then none used them. When the US possessed nuclear weapons and Japan did not, the US sacrificed hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives by detonating atomic weapons.
With Pakistan and India both possessing substantial nuclear arsenals there is no chance of a nuclear war. By placing cowardice on full display, this in diplomacy is fatal. The first and most important rule in diplomacy is to never take any options off the table, even if one has no intention of following through with a particular action. As limiting one’s choices hampers your ability to negotiate and betrays one’s weaknesses to the enemy.