How India And Pakistan Adjusted To A Dangerous New Nuclear Environment

Good concepts, brilliant designs and even sound strategies have never been enough. For their success, we make certain assumptions and lay down conditions that must be fulfilled. It must be assumed, for example, that an agreement, no matter how favourable to one or the other side, is not to be touted as a unilateral victory.

Eager to make political capital out of the accord, some Pakistani officials went to town claiming they had made the Indians “finally” agree to discuss Kashmir. India reacted predictably and clarified that the only aspect of Kashmir it ever intended to discuss was Pakistan’s support to the insurgency. The composite dialogue, and along with that the peace process, was put on hold.

The following year, in 1998, the arch rivals brought their nukes out of the basement. The celebrations that followed in India and Pakistan, and not only on the streets, were accompanied by plenty of chest thumping and bellicosity towards each other.

Obviously, there were also concerns both inside and outside the region: how would the two nascent nuclear powers adjust to the new, potentially dangerous, nuclear environment? At the very least, some measures were necessary to prevent a situation in which one side or the other would fire a nuclear weapon in panic or because it misread a signal, such as a missile test by the other. Read More

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