The role played by Nuclear Weaponry, Democracy and War Experience in Preventing an Indo-Pak War since 1999

Issues, conflicts & disputes have continued between Pakistan and India since 1947 but there has been no war between the two nations since the 1999 Kargil war. In this article, we will tell our readers how nuclear weaponry, democracy, and war experience have prevented an Indo-Pak war since 1999.

Nuclear weapons have prevented war between India and Pakistan since 1999 because nuclear weapons make conquest hard due to the risks involved. Mearsheimer stated that nuclear weapons favor peace and make conquest difficult.

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He further stated that nuclear weapons cause mass destruction. Similarly, the offense-defense theory predicts and empirically proves that war is common in periods when conquest is easy. However, when conquest is hard, states avoid aggression as victory can be very costly, risky and almost unattainable.

On the other hand, when conquest is easy, war is less costly & easier to attempt and succeed. In Pakistan, India’s case both nations are nuclear powers. The 1999 Kargil War was the last war between Pakistan and India to date and the only one that occurred after both countries became nuclear powers. Nuclear weapons have been used for self-defense since then by both countries.

Nuclear weapons affect the degree of equality in the system, they equalize the relative power of countries who possess them. After Pakistan became a nuclear power, it has affected the country’s bargaining power, thus preventing war between the two nations. Security Dilemma best explains the Indo-Pak situation after India conducted its first atomic bomb test in 1974.

Nuclear tests by India compelled Pakistan to increase its security and in 1998 Pakistan conducted its first successful nuclear tests. Pakistani decision-makers believe that the acquisition of nuclear weapons has strengthened Pakistan’s bargaining power. Today they are both nuclear powers, which in turn is preventing war between the arch-rivals.

Other than nuclear weaponry, democracy is another factor that has played a role in preventing war between Pakistan and India since 1999. The nature of the democratic political system has played a role in war prevention. Since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, both countries have fought three major wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971 and one minor war in 1999.

The 1947 war was fought under a democratic government, while 1965, and 1971 wars were under military regimes. Even though the 1999 Kargil War was during Nawaz Sharif’s democratic government’s period it was initiated by the Army Chief General Musharraf. Thus with an exception of the 1947 war, all Indo-Pak wars were either in military regimes or started by military leaders.

Most importantly, war experience has taught Pakistan and India that war is costly and not a sensible option. In the Indo-Pak 1971 war, Pakistan fought two wars, the first deprived Pakistani government of its legitimacy in East Pakistan and the second was Pakistan’s Bangladesh war with India.

In 1971 war all parties committed an act of violence & inhumanities outside accepted norms of warfare and Pakistan had to pay a huge price as it lost half of its country, East Pakistan, today known as Bangladesh. Another learning lesson, especially from Kargil war, was that now as both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, they cannot risk another war.

Pakistan-India war experiences clearly indicate that wars do not resolve the conflict, they just aggravate it in some cases. Pakistan and India fought four wars since Independence and three out of four wars were fought over the Kashmir region. Despite this, Kashmir issue remains as it is, even worse. It means that war did not resolve the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India.

Thus, the previous experience of four wars along with factors like democracy and nuclear weaponry have prevented war between India and Pakistan since 1999.

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