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India, Pak cannot afford to be engaged in full-fledged conventional war: Expert

By Hari Krishnan

Lahore, Dec.14 (ANI): India and Pakistan cannot afford to engage themselves in a full-fledged conventional war or even the kind of eyeball-to-eyeball military brinkmanship they engaged in 2001-02, a political and defence analyst has said.

According to Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi, in the wake of last month's terror attacks in Mumbai, both countries have to accept that terrorism is a threat to both and that they need to cooperate to deal with it.

Askari-Rizvi says that while India should investigate its domestic sources of terrorism, Pakistan must be seen to be acting against Islamic militancy, and can achieve this goal if New Delhi provides it with credible evidence and support.

"The imperatives of counter-terrorism, therefore, are cooperation between India and Pakistan; consistency in Pakistan's efforts to contain militancy within its boundaries; and Indian efforts to cope with domestic sources of terrorism," he says in an editorial for the Daily Times.

He admits that the consensus at the international level on the involvement of a Pakistan-based group in the Mumbai attacks has left Pakistan with no credible option but to take immediate action against militant groups in the mainland.

But, he also emphasizes that "these groups are transnational and use all possible means, including violence, to pursue their agenda with total disregard to the imperatives of Pakistan".

"They want Pakistan to be subservient to their agenda, and do not respect Pakistan's sovereign status and territorial boundaries," he adds.

"If Pakistan is to function as a coherent and effective state, it cannot allow non-state actors to engage in violent and disruptive activities inside or outside its boundaries. Pakistan's policymakers need to do some hard and realistic thinking on the current situation and terrorism-related issues. ndian policymakers need to do the same. They need not descend into traditional India-Pakistan polemics to deflect criticism of internal security lapses and the probability of terrorism having domestic roots," Askar-Rizvi opines.

He says that while the Indian government has not blamed the Pakistani government of direct involvement in the Mumbai attacks, its view that a Pakistan-based group planned and executed them, places indirect responsibility on the Pakistani government to act.

Both Pakistan and India face enormous economic challenges and both possess nuclear weapons. Therefore, a conventional war could escalate into a nuclear exchange, with devastating consequences for both countries and is not an option, he concludes. (ANI)

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