Pakistan and India Specialists Sightsee the Threat of War
September 06, 2021
On the 56th anniversary of the 1965 war, military veterans from India and Pakistan see a slight chance of a full-fledged war between the two nuclear neighbors, calling it a “unthinkable” idea. They also advocated for “political engagement” to resolve long-standing conflicts, such as the Kashmir issue.
Lt Gen (retd) HS Panag, an Indian war former soldier as a young captain in the 1971 war against Pakistan, observed that the “nuclear factor” significantly reduced the likelihood of a full-scale war. “Both countries acquired nuclear weapons in 1998. Because nuclear capabilities come into play at some point in time, nuclear nations no longer fight full-scale wars,” Panag told Anadolu Agency. “Major wars between nations continue indefinitely… but in the modern era of nuclear weapons, the concept over all war is obsolete. It is no longer possible,” he stated. “What can happen is that it happens below the threshold of war, and there are limits to that.”
He claimed that India has abstain from attacking Pakistan for the same reason, and that Pakistan “cannot be decisively defeated by India.” Lt Gen (retd) Talat Masood, who served in two wars against India in 1965 and 1971, agreed with Panag and rejected the possibility of a complete war, even if the nuclear factor is ignored. “Yes, nuclear deterrent is a factor, but even if they are not nuclear, it would make no sense to go into complete war in this era,” Masood, who served in a heavily armored division in a furious tank battle on the eastern borders during the 1965 war, told Anadolu Agency.
The battle, which involved thousands of tanks from both sides and took place near the Pakistan-India border near northeastern Sialkot district, is regarded as the second greatest tank battle after World War II. “(In the event of a complete war), you will set your country back 15 to 20 years, in addition to isolating yourself from the world community. Things will become more difficult for your people, the economy will be fractured, and matters will become even more complicated,” he predicted.
He added that it is not a “prudent” or “plausible” idea that the two countries will make a “blunder” by going to war. Major Ikram Sehgal, who served as an aerospace pilot in post-1965 war skirmishes along the border between then-East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and India, as well as six years later in the 1971 war, also dismissed the possibility of an all-out war.
“A full-fledged war could escalate into a nuclear conflict. And in that case, neither the winner nor the loser will stand,” Sehgal told Anadolu Agency. Brig MPS Bajwa, an army veteran who led an Indian brigade during the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan, stated,“It is extremely unlikely because both countries are nuclear-armed and appear to have realized that is not an option.”
Pakistan and India are two of only a few countries with nuclear weapons. In 1974, India became the first country to acquire nuclear weapons, prompting Islamabad to follow suit. Pakistan quietly developed nuclear capabilities in the 1980s, when it was an ally of the United States in the first Afghan war against the collapsing Soviet Union. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India has between 80 and 100 nuclear warheads, while Pakistan has between 90 and 110.