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A Cold War in Asia?
Threat of an Indo-Pakistan arms race may bring China and the U.S. into opposition
Fiza Fatima Asar (FizaPK)     Print Article 
Published 2006-07-27 18:21 (KST)   
The world has a strange way of running itself. There are axes of evil, rogue states and terrorists. At the same time there are lies, hypocrisy and abuses of power. Actors in the international arena behave badly and the common man goes along with it.

It is the greed for power and the selfish desire to keep the power in one's hands once achieved that are the destructive factors at work. The arms race is not only a race for security but a direct result of the greed that consumes the minds of state-actors.

If the countries of the world decided to live peacefully and quit their colonialist/imperialist ambitions, there would be no need for them to invest in weapon-building. But that would be a state of utopia. In the real world there are fears and dangers, perceived and true; and it is the way countries behave and allow themselves to be manipulated that paves the way for a dangerous world.

A Washington-based science monitoring organization, the Institute of International Science and International Security (IISIS), published a report recently disclosing that Pakistan is involved in the building of a powerful nuclear reactor.

This news comes at a time when the United States is progressing with India in its talks of a nuclear agreement between the two countries. Many analysts have looked at this agreement with a critical eye, saying that it contradicts the American government's message of nuclear non-proliferation.

With this report coming to light, some onlookers wonder if IISIS published it strategically to coincide with the U.S. government's move towards a nuclear cooperation agreement with India. The Pakistani reactor has the ability to produce enough plutonium to make 40 to 50 nuclear weapons a year. The report suggests an arms race is possible in South Asia.

Pakistan and India have been long time rivals. Whatever the reasons for this rivalry, history shows that irrespective of steps towards reconciliation between the two countries, any minor flexing of muscles from either side could shatter the chances of peace.

Trust is a key factor between the two countries. Their existing and imagined differences are so immense that any doubts on either side could destroy that trust completely.

It is not as though Indian and Pakistani leaders do not realize the importance of trust between the two countries. Whether their endangerment of that trust is a conscientious effort, manipulation by a third party, greed for power, or a mistake in foreign policy are all questions worth digging into.

The fact that Pakistan's steps towards peace with India over Kashmir have not met with reciprocal actions from India, has added to the perception of danger in Pakistan.

In March, Bush, on his trip to South Asia, lauded India for promoting democracy in Afghanistan, and on the contrary, Pakistan, a country that has risked its security, its finances and sacrificed the lives of its people and soldiers in heeding the commands of the United States, was told that it was simply not doing enough.

This twist in the Americans' approach further aggravated Pakistan's fears. A nuclear agreement between India and the United States can only be expected to add to Pakistan's feelings of insecurity, bitterness and betrayal.

At the same time, as America is befriending India, present in Afghanistan, aiming to enhance its relations with Central Asia, and reprimanding Iran for its nuclear ambitions, Pakistan, surrounded by these countries, is bound to feel insecure.

How Pakistan chooses to proceed from here, and how its leaders react to several simultaneous pressures, will be a direct result of how other countries choose to push its buttons.

It is difficult to imagine that the U.S. government, which in recent years has seldom given a second thought before making a foreign policy decision, would be budged by the IISIS report. Perhaps a South Asian arms race would only be in favor of U.S. leaders, giving a loophole to the U.S. government to treat Pakistan in a similar way as it has treated those who deviate from the American government's approach towards the world.

What makes an arms race in South Asia an even more dangerous prospect is the backing of the two South Asian rivals by two international rivals. India, with its backing from the United States, and Pakistan with China loyally supporting it. This could possibly lead to a situation similar to a cold war. With Russia and China increasingly gaining importance and the subtle or direct clashes of the two countries with the United States, the idea of South Asia becoming a hot spot in the world comes closer to reality. It is difficult to predict where the world is heading. One can only hope to see a future for the world that has saner leaders, and nobler aims and missions.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Fiza Fatima Asar

  Linked Story - America Will Not Ditch Pakistan...

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