USIS Washington File

24 March 2000

Indian Professor Calls India/Pakistan Confrontation Dangerous

(Professor Sumit Ganguly testifies before Senate) (1000)
By Jim Fisher-Thompson
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- International relations expert Sumit Ganguly told
Congress March 23 that contrary to Indian government pronouncements
downplaying the danger of the Indo/Pakistani Kashmir crisis, the
confrontation could escalate a smoldering ground conflict over
disputed territory into nuclear war since both nations now have
nuclear weapons and are developing delivery systems.

Ganguly, an American of Indian descent who is a professor of
international relations at Hunter College in New York and visiting
fellow at Stanford University's Center for International Security and
Cooperation, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he
disagreed with the recent statement by Indian President Kircheril
Raman Narayanan that warnings by world leaders like President Bill
Clinton about the growing danger of the India/Pakistan confrontation
were "alarmist."

Rather, Ganguly said, "I would like to underscore that there is a real
danger of war in South Asia with the accompanying danger of escalation
to nuclear war."

He told Chairman Richard Lugar, whose Committee was looking into
"India and Pakistan: The Future of Nonproliferation Policy" that "a
nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan would amount to an
unparalleled human catastrophe. It would also dramatically undermine
the post-Hiroshima nuclear taboo with far-reaching consequences for
the international system."

Ganguly told the Senators that "the spiraling of the Indian and
Pakistani weapons programs cannot be arrested without forthrightly
addressing the Kashmir problem. Since the outbreak of an
ethno-religious insurgency there in December 1989, this putatively
'low intensity' conflict has consumed more lives than all the
Indo-Pakistani wars and crises combined."

The Indian professor added that "breaking the (Kashmir) deadlock will
require an imaginative and bold shift in American (nonproliferation)

Asked by Chairman Lugar who should do "the heavy lifting" in bringing
about a resolution to the Kashmir conflict, Ganguly noted that
unfortunately American mediation in the Kashmir issue is problematic
because of the in-bred distrust Indian policymakers have of the United

"Lowering the temperature" in Kashmir is essential to defusing a
potential nuclear confrontation, Ganguly told the lawmakers, but old
Cold War attitudes toward the United States in New Delhi will make
U.S. diplomatic intervention difficult. Because of the Cold War and
India's ties with the Soviet Union, "Indians do not believe the United
States can be an honest broker" in the Indian/Pakistan crisis.

Turning to non-proliferation policies, Ganguly said that after India
and Pakistan "crossed the nuclear Rubicon" by testing their nuclear
weapons, the U.S. policy of trying to roll back their nuclear and
ballistic missile programs had not met with success. "Both sides have
refused since 1998 to even countenance giving up their nuclear
options," he said, and "they have little or no incentive to behave

Discounting as useful, economic sanctions brought against India and
Pakistan to stop their nuclear weapons proliferation, Ganguly told the
Committee that "it is most unlikely that further American economic
pressures and political hectoring will lead to the abandonment of
nuclear weapons."

At the same time, another U.S. nonproliferation device -- export
controls on technology to India -- has had the opposite effect, he
pointed out. It might have some effect in a less technologically
developed state but Indians just say "fine, we will now manufacture
these things on our own ... and we will not be dependent on the
international community and the United States."

For Ganguly, the preferred policy for defusing the nuclear threat to
the region is "to urge India and Pakistan to accede to the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). In this regard, the Senate's
ratification of the treaty would significantly enhance the ability of
American interlocutors as they seek Indian and Pakistani accession to
the treaty."

He added, however, "the goal of obtaining Indian and Pakistani
signatures on the CTBT must realistically be tied to some viable
incentives. Toward this end, the United States should offer to lift a
swath of sanctions against both countries as a quid pro quo for their
adherence to the CTBT's expectations."

Fred Ikle, former director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
(ACDA) and now a senior fellow at the Center for International and
Strategic Studies (CSIS), who also appeared before the Senate
Committee, agreed with Ganguly that export controls on technology as a
nonproliferation device. "By now we should have discovered that a
nation with some scientific and industrial capability that is
determined to build nuclear weapons can be delayed with export
controls and secrecy but it cannot be prevented from eventually
acquiring nuclear bombs."

He added, however, that economic sanctions were a different matter.
Acknowledging that "by and large, economic sanctions have not been
effective in dissuading nations from going nuclear," Ikle said they
would be more effective "if all the leading democracies were willing
to maintain a credible threat of universal economic sanctions, such a
deterrent might be persuasive in some cases; Libya comes to mind."

Ikle placed more hope in the "Nunn-Lugar-Dominici program," a
cooperative thread reduction effort that "enlists U.S. diplomacy and
economic assistance to coax, urge and help governments better to
control the dangerous weapons materials and bombs that they have
accumulated," he explained.

Terming Nunn-Lugar-Domenici an outstanding effort at "constructive
engagement," the former official said, "I can think of no greater
accomplishment in the recent era in behalf of non-proliferation than
this program."

Ikle did not have much faith in the power of treaties to curb
proliferation, noting that "it is easier and nicer to have a treaty
signing ceremony than a military action," but he said a way must be
found to respond to violators that "will not aggravate the problem."

The former arms control official told the lawmakers that "we need to
impose penalties that will help to deter the next proliferator in the
queue. If possible, we should also give assurances to those threatened
by the new proliferation to dissuade them from doing what Pakistan did
in response to India's weapons tests. But whatever measures we take,
we should not send gifts each time a regime violates nonproliferation

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