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‘Danger of conflict between Pakistan, India growing’

The danger of a conflict between Pakistan and India is growing, a leading Pakistani daily warned today after Indian Army chief said his force was ready to call Pakistan’s “nuclear bluff” and cross the border to carry out any operation if asked by the government.

General Bipin Rawat made these remarks while responding to a question during a press conference in New Delhi last week on possibility of Pakistan using its nuclear weapons in case the situation along the border deteriorates.

“If we will have to really confront the Pakistanis, and a task is given to us, we are not going to say we cannot cross the border because they have nuclear weapons. We will have to call their nuclear bluff,” Rawat had said.

‘Dawn’ newspaper in its editorial said the very idea of calling a “nuclear bluff” ought to give all right-thinking and sensible people in South Asia pause.

“With the army chief appearing to suggest that the Cold Start doctrine has become a core part of Indian military strategy against Pakistan, the danger of a general conflict between Pakistan and India is growing. Crossing the international border is an act of war, and Pakistan would simply have no option but to respond,” the daily said.

‘Cold Start doctrine’ was developed by the Indian Army for a possible war with Pakistan. This doctrine involves various branches of the Army conducting offensive operations as part of unified battle groups. The doctrine intends to allow India’s conventional forces to perform holding attacks to prevent nuclear retaliation from Pakistan in case of a conflict.

“From the very beginning, the logic of Cold Start threatened to elevate the risk of nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India, and yet India has pursued it while denying its existence for many years,” it said.

Gen Rawat’s “disturbing” comments have also underlined the dire state of Pakistan-India relations, it added.

The paper said the political climate in both countries suggested that bilateral relationship may at best stay frozen or could further deteriorate.

“These are certainly not hopeful times for those desiring the normalisation of ties between Pakistan and India ultimately,” it said.

The daily said the recent meeting in Bangkok between the national security advisers of Pakistan and India suggested that the two countries were aware that a total breakdown in communications was not desirable.

“But if hawks on both sides are to be prevented from dictating the tone and content of bilateral engagements, meetings held away from the media spotlight need to produce tangible results. Meanwhile, India ought to consider why its military leadership is growing more important at the policymaking level,” it said.

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