Could India and Pakistan go to war?
Pakistan really go to war? It almost seems an absurd question to ask.
After all, both countries have long been nuclear powers — a deterrent that encompasses the lives of a combined 1.4 billion people. Both nations have also seen some years of relative peace along their border, a break from the wars that pockmarked the 20th Century.
And yet, hours after 18 were killed in an attack on an army base in Indian-administered Kashmir, the director-general of military operations for the Indian Army announced that the terrorists carried gear which had “Pakistani markings.”
Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Secretary General Ram Madhav took to Facebook. “For one tooth, the complete jaw,” he posted, seeming to imply a disproportionate retaliation.
On India’s many TV news channels, a steady drum beat calling for war gained momentum, reaching a crescendo of sorts in primetime.
Arnab Goswami, the host of the country’s most-watched English news hour, expressed rage at Pakistan: “We need to cripple them, we need to bring them down on their knees.”
One of his guests, a retired army general, went a step further: “We must be seen as inflicting punishment on Pakistan by non-terrorist means … the nation needs a catharsis!”
But what about the ready nuclear arsenals both countries possessed? Surely that would be a deterrent?