Pakistan’s support to terrorism and its doctrine of “first and even an early use” of nuclear weapons, create a worrying and destabilising situation in South Asia, experts opined here at a conference, held parallel to a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The experts voiced these concerns against the backdrop of the Pulwama terror attack, while noting that it was carried out by Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).
Gathered at the conference ‘Terrorism and Nuclear Security in South Asia’, a side event during the 40th Session of the UNHRC here, the panel of academics, former diplomats and independent military researchers in the field of terrorism and nuclear security deliberated upon growing terrorism in the region and its implications for the nuclear security of region and the world.
Speaking at the event, Junaid Qureshi, Director of think tank European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), referred to the February 14 Pulwama terror attack and noted that it was claimed by JeM which is based in Pakistan.
He also talked about the subsequent air strike carried out by India on JeM camp in Balakot in Pakistan on February 26.
“India went inside Pakistan and tracked the infrastructure of JeM in Pakistan, which claims to be fighting against terrorism and they claim to be a victim of terrorism,” said Qureshi, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir.
He said Pakistan should have been “very thankful to the Indians that they destroyed the infrastructure of Jaish. Instead, F16s of Pakistan, as they call it, retaliated on the LoC (Line of Control). Does it mean Pakistan is the only country in this world which is willing to go to war in order to defend its terrorists or terrorist infrastructure?”
Qureshi voiced concern over Pakistan’s threat of using its nuclear weapons for protecting terrorists.
“Many ministers or many parliamentarians (of Pakistan) started actually issuing threats that they have nuclear weapons and they will use them. That is a very reckless situation in which a nuclear-capable state is threatening in its Parliament to use nuclear weapons because terrorists in their country were attacked,” he said.
Qureshi said the world should take notice of how scary the situation is, particularly considering Pakistan’s threat to use the nuclear weapons and the radicalisation, not only among the insurgent groups, but also within the Pakistan Army.
He highlighted how worrying the situation in South Asia “becomes because of these tens or twenties of terrorist organizations operating in the region and being used as strategic assets by the Pakistani military establishment.”
Marc Finaud, former French diplomat, analysed the nuclear situation in Asia and said while China maintains a ‘no-first use’ policy alongside India, “Pakistan imposes an uncertainty, since it clearly supports a doctrine of first and even an early use policy in case of a conventional attack, which is a worrying and destabilising risk factor for the region.”
Dr. Dorothée Vandamme, Research assistant and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Louvain, Centre for the Study of Crises and International Conflicts, analysed the situation arising out of the Pulwama attack.
He spoke about how “this horrendous incident has once again shown that the situation in South Asia is particularly volatile and could bring about irreversible perilous repercussions for the entire Indian subcontinent.”
She said, “There is a real danger as there is growing extremism in the region, especially in Pakistan. There is a real danger about the conflict reopening in an extremely violent way.”
Describing it as a “real threat”, she said, “we need to be aware of that and work on the situation.”
Dr. Vandamme noted that the links between the Pakistani military establishment and the terrorist groups have been the result of several phenomena, namely its sympathy for the cause of these terrorist groups, the growing number of extremist elements within Pakistan’s armed forces and the ongoing mainstreaming of terrorists in the Pakistani political life for the purposes of ostensibly diffusing the threat that they represent.
“By doing so, they (terror and radical groups) are provided with a platform to express their extremist views in an institutionalized way,” she said. (ANI)