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Pakistani-American Scholar on US Role as Peace Broker in South Asia

Pakistani-American scholar Dr. Moeed Yusuf has examined the role of the United States in defusing South Asian crises since the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan in 1998.

In "Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia" by Dr. Moeed Yusuf published by Stanford University Press, the author analyzes American diplomacy in three critical periods: Kargil conflict in 1999; the stand-off after the Indian Parliament attack in 2001 and the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008.

Yusuf argues that the US-Soviet Cold War deterrence model does not apply to the India-Pakistan conflict and offers his theory of "brokered bargaining". In chapters that detail the US role during three India-Pakistan crises, it is clear that the US rejected India's insistence on bilateralism in resolving India-Pakistan disputes.  The author says that "in each episode, the concern about the escalation forced the United States to engage, largely unsolicited, and use a mix of rewards (or promises of) and punishments (or threats of) with the regional rivals to achieve de-escalation--ahead of its broader regional or policy interests."

It seems that Yusuf accepts the widely-held assumption that India enjoys insurmountable conventional military superiority over Pakistan. Many speculate that the difference between the conventional military strengths of the two South Asian rivals is so great that Pakistan would be forced to quickly resort to the use of nuclear weapons in the event of an Indian attack. Such assumptions and speculations are challenged by Professor Walter Ladwig of the War Studies Department at London's Kings College, Meenakshi Sood of Delhi-based Indian Army think tank called The Center for Land Warfare Studies, and other scholars.

Professor Walter Ladwig believes that Pakistan’s conventional deterrence against India in the near to medium term is "much better than the pessimists allege".  Pakistan's  NCWF (New Concept of War Fighting) developed in response to India's CSD (Cold Start Doctrine) is designed to "mount a counter-offensive even before India fires the first shot", according to Indian analyst Meenakshi Sood. Ladwig sums it up well: "Despite a growing technological edge (over Pakistan) in some areas, Indian policymakers cannot be confident that even a limited resort to military force would achieve a rapid result, which is an essential pre-condition for deterrence failure".

One could argue that Yusuf gives too much credit to the US efforts in de-escalating India-Pakistan crises. It creates the impression that brown leaders are less rational than their white counterparts in dealing with existential crises. It perpetuates the stereotype that only a select few nations in the West can be trusted with weapons of mass destruction.  It justifies the nuclear Apartheid being pursued by the United States in the form of nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).  Could it be that the author's research is heavily influenced by the fact that he works for the United States Institute of Peace which is a US government-funded Washington think tank?

Overall, Dr. Moeed Yusuf's "Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia" is a thought provoking book. It should stimulate serious discussion of how regional nuclear powers like India and Pakistan can engage with each other more deeply to maintain peace and stability in their neighborhood. This will require both parties, India and Pakistan, to have sustained dialog to resolve core issues like Kashmir that underly recurring crises. 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on September 20, 2018 at 7:31am

US and China are playing geopolitical game in Pakistan over CPEC that could determine which country becomes the next superpower


http://www.riazhaq.com/2018/09/us-china-competition-in-pakistan-cpe...

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