In the aftermath of Pulwama attack warmongering elements have been triggered in both South Asian nuclear-armed arch rivals. The Indian jets arrived for what they called it “Pre-emptive strikes” in Balakot, AJ&K to target JeM camp, who were alleged to be the perpetrators of Pulwama attack in Indian Occupied Kashmir. The PAF aircrafts chased IAF jets which hastily released payload and flown back to India without achieving the target. Undoubtedly, this was an unprovoked incursion into Pakistan’s territory. Indian allegations on Pakistan of sponsoring Pulwama attack were baseless. Many analysts argued that Pulwama attack was orchestrated by Hindutva for political gains in Indian general elections-2019. Also, India had no reason for airstrikes after PM Imran categorically assured his counterparts a stern action against those responsible, if they belonged to Pakistan. PM Imran Khan asked Narendra Modi to share credible information for this purpose. However, Indian jingoism prevailed. Indian unprovoked aggression along the Line of Control (LOC) has continuously been provoking Pakistan’s nuclear threshold. But Pakistan, aware of the dangers of nuclear war, has shown restraint against its adversary’s aggressive posture. Pakistan is determined for peaceful resolution of disputes and to avoid mutually assured destruction (MAD). However, it has the full capacity to retaliate and counter Indian offenses. The post-Pulwama situation has flabbergasted many at international level. Many are anticipating a full-fledged nuclear war. Now questions arise is Pak- India war inevitable or avoidable? And, if once avoided, how a durable peace could be established? This article will elaborate these two areas.

As far as inevitability of war is concerned, in international politics it is explained that war has a slippery road; it cannot be controlled once you have started it. In addition to this very nature of war, in this nuclear age when mankind has created overkill capacity through weapons of mass destruction, avoiding war is the best strategy. Because, in other case MAD would outweigh the benefits of war for the launcher. This is why Pakistan has always wished to avoid war.

However, when Pakistan’s efforts for peace were considered as her weakness it retaliated with full-blow. For example, Post- Pulwama attack scenario has forced Pakistan to respond to Indian aggression. Because it challenged the credibility of Pakistan’s deterrence. After the Balakot episode, two MIG-21 bison aircrafts of Indian Air Force (IAF) again violated the air space limits and intruded into Pakistan. This time a counter attack was imminent for effective communication of the credibility of Pakistan’s deterrence capacity to its enemy. As we know, deterrence has three main components: (1) Capability or Capacity; (2) Credibility; (3) Communication. This time it was pivotal to communicate that Pakistan can successfully counter and launch new attacks. Pakistan’s air strikes have successfully communicated a loud and clear message to its enemy; do not target us we have the full capability to neutralize your offense and can launch a counter attack. Therefore, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) responded in a very calculated, measured and professional manner. Both of the Indian planes were destroyed and a pilot, Abhinandan, was captured alive by the armed forces of Pakistan. It was an excellent military strategy. Also, PM Imran Khan’s both televised addresses -one after Balakot episode, and another after Pakistan’s strikes- were focused on the need of bilateral dialogue and peaceful resolution of disputes between the two hostile nations. He also stressed for ending hostilities by calculating destructive and uncontrollable nature of nuclear warfare.

Pakistan’s peace efforts can also be gauged from the way it treated IAF’s pilot. The pilot was detained as a prisoner of war (POW) during active war like situation or an armed conflict, Pakistan was not bound by any international agreement to repatriate him to India. In spite of that, at the time of this writing, PM Imran Khan has announced the release of Indian pilot as a goodwill gesture or what he called it as a “peace gesture”. Now, India should open heartedly accept and reciprocate these endeavours for peace.

Moreover, the saner elements on both sides of border have cautioned the warmongers of the lethality of nukes. Particularly, after PM Imran Khan’s addresses, Indian citizens have started a campaign on social media to realize stakeholders the importance of peace and progress for the country and whole region. It is a clear manifestation that the nationals of both countries do not intend for a nuclear conflagration.

If we analyse the post-Pulwama situation it comes to light that Pakistan won and India lost. Pakistan gained international repute; major powers supported her peace initiatives; and she successfully communicated her deterrence credibility. On the contrary, India could not achieve its objective of isolating Pakistan; it could not threaten Pakistan; she failed to provoke Pakistan’s nuclear attack; she could not hide her atrocities in Indian occupied Kashmir; and even this war hysteria could not gain sympathy for Modi inside India.

Pakistan should trigger her diplomacy. It should proactively engage world diplomats to promote her counter narrative. It should also work on global perception management by successfully exploiting the recent events of Indian aggression and Pakistan’s peaceful endeavours.

Third, international community should play its role of interlocutor to end the conflict and resolve longstanding Pak-India disputes. In this regard, Kashmir dispute is a core conflict, and a durable peace would be an unaccomplished task without negotiating a peace in this zone. India needs to understand that Kashmiri struggle for freedom can never be countered with force. The freedom struggle has entered into a new phase, wherein it is led by indigenous population, particularly Kashmiri youth. The suicidal attacks on Indian forces in Kashmir should ring alarm bells in India. It should now consider peaceful means in spite of military solution to resolve the conflict. An appropriate solution is available in the shape UNSC resolutions already adopted by international community. These resolutions should be implemented in true essence if the stakeholders are determined to achieve a durable peace in South Asian nuclear flashpoint.

To conclude, a conventional war between the two nuclear- armed neighbours in South Asia would lead to an exchange of nuclear blows. It would prove cataclysmic not only for one country but for the whole region and the world. Therefore, both India and Pakistan should resolve their disputes peacefully to avoid a lethal war. In this regard, Kashmir dispute is a core conflict and without resolving it peace would remain a wishful thinking. A constructive dialogue between the two arch rivals is the only viable solution. Global community needs to play its pragmatic role of mediator in bringing India and Pakistan to negotiating table in order to resolve Kashmir issue and avoid a nuclear Armageddon.