First, Khan started off by saying he was anti-war—a “pacifist.” He then developed his stance, stating that “when two nuclear-armed countries fight, if they fight a conventional war, there is every possibility that it is going to end up into nuclear war.” However, this scenario, as Khan described, is “the unthinkable.”
Khan went on to say:
“If say Pakistan, God forbid, we are fighting a conventional war, we are losing, and if a country is stuck between the choice; either you surrender or you fight ‘til death for your freedom, I know Pakistanis will fight to death for their freedom.
So when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, to the death, it has consequences.”
Granted, Khan spoke to RT not long after in an attempt to provide a disclaimer to these eye-opening statements. But for all intents and purposes, the nuclear elephant in the room is no longer hiding.
Throughout the last week, the top global news story was the recent drone attack on a major Saudi Aramco facility, which was unanimously pinned on Iran. The whole world appears to be bracing for a regional confrontation between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran, and what would inevitably be another disastrous war in which the U.S. finds itself intervening heavily on the side of Riyadh, if it doesn’t take the lead and strike Iran directly itself.
Notwithstanding the seriousness of the potential for U.S.-Iran relations to further spiral into the abyss, no one is talking about the fact that a nuclear-armed state just threatened another nuclear armed-state with nuclear war. How can this be? And how seriously should we take this threat?
“I take Khan’s statement to be almost truism,” Professor Noam Chomsky told the Mind Unleashed via email. “Do you know of a country that wouldn’t use whatever weapons it has if it were on the verge of destruction by a bitter enemy? The crimes in this case are India’s. What Modi is doing in Kashmir, with strong public support, is truly criminal. Not to speak of his tearing to shreds what remains of Indian democracy.”
Chomsky then added:
“Quite agree with you about the serious dangers [of a potential war between Pakistan and India].”
Unsurprisingly, no major western news network appears to see the issue in the same way that Chomsky aptly phrased in a one paragraph email, with very few exceptions.
There has been no statement from the NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg that he is concerned about rising tensions. There have been no accusations that Pakistan or India are destabilizing the region.
I fail to accept that a non-nuclear armed Iran poses a larger threat to the global community than a nuclear-armed Pakistan and nuclear-armed India fighting a major war against each other. Last week, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi quite bluntly acknowledged that the two nations were on the brink of war after—as Chomsky rightly pointed out—India’s decision to turn its back on Kashmir and revoke its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. If overseas reports are to be believed, even India’s Supreme Court has taken issue with India’s stance on Kashmir.
We also must bear in mind that when it comes to Kashmir, Pakistan and India have fought two major wars already. Since the partition, the two nations have gone to war three times—and has almost launched a fourth. History shows us that the potential for a war between two countries who have already fought three wars—and who maintain deep, mutual points of differences—seems to be more than hyperbolic.
A few days ago, U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden suggested the U.S. move its troops from Afghanistan to Pakistan. If he had suggested this as a means of preventing a war between India and Pakistan, this may have actually made sense. Unfortunately, this was his mind-numbing solution to win the war in Afghanistan—again reaffirming how out of touch anyone who is involved with any major political clout really is.
At this stage, it is unlikely that either Pakistan or India are willing to risk it all. It seems as though both countries have to pander to a nationalist support base domestically in order to score points at home. In the case of Pakistan, the country has to genuinely attempt to address India’s reckless moves in Kashmir, and to make it clear that if the two countries go to war, then the “unthinkable” could very well happen. In that sense, Khan’s statements were likely more of a deterrence than anything else. And at the end of the day, both Pakistan and India have friends to a certain degree, and all of those friends hold significant spheres of influence over both parties.
Admittedly, this outlook is rooted in optimism and even bluffing about the use of nuclear weapons seems to be a potential violation of international law. To Khan’s credit, it would appear that India was the first one to begin violating international law when it decide to punish the Kashmiri population for no credible reason.