Ms. MAHNAZ ISPAHANI (The Ford Foundation): [joined in progress]...if that’s the case we have two very distinguished speakers with us today to tell us whether or not it’s the presence of nuclear capabilities in India and Pakistan that makes it this terribly dangerous place in the world. And if that’s the case, should non-proliferation be the top priority on the U.S. agenda for its relations with all South Asia.
If that’s not the case, if South Asia is more than the sum of its nukes, so to speak, are there other economic and political opportunities of which the United States might avail itself. We have, as I said, two very distinguished speakers with us tonight. Michael Krepon who is President of the Stimson Center in International Security Policy Institute in Washington and Jagdish Baghwati who is Arthur Lehman Professor of Economics at Columbia University as well as Professor of Political Science.
Mr. MICHAEL KREPON (Henry L. Stimson Center): And a good friend of yours...
Ms. ISPAHANI: ...and a good friend as is Michael. South Asianists are a small community. The format of the meeting is not the usual one. It is an on-the-record meeting, am I correct? Because it is part of the Campaign 2000 series of meetings at the Council which seeks to bring key foreign policy issues to the attention of both the Presidential candidates and the broader public. In this context I’d like to alert you to the website which some of you have seen outside. It’s up and running, as I understand, and really features different perspectives on the key foreign policy issues that are being debated in the campaign. And, I believe, is the only website of its kind. Michael, would you start us off by telling us whether non-proliferation should be the principal foreign policy goal in the region and if it is, what are the most useful ways to advance that goal? You have 10 minutes.
Mr. KREPON: The answer is yes. India and Pakistan are now on a collision course. And without a course correction another war in Kashmir is likely in the not too distant future. That’s not only my judgment, it’s also the judgment of the Clinton Administration and the intelligence community. There are no communication channels between India and Pakistan that are presently working. In fact, India and Pakistan are not talking to one another officially or un-officially. There is zero trust between the two countries, the two leaders. Many in Pakistan’s officer corps believe that the last war could have been won if their now deposed Prime Minister had not come to Washington with his tail between his legs last July 4th. The generals who now run Pakistan remain deeply committed to bleeding India, tying down Indian forces in Kashmir, which they are doing successfully at low cost, I might add. Militant operations in the valley of Kashmir are becoming increasingly audacious. The Secretariat building in downtown Shrinagar, which is where the Prime Minister and the leading civil servants in the state hang out during working hours, sometimes has been used for target practice by militant groups on more than one occasion. The slow season for militancy is supposed to be the winter. This winter has been pretty rough and more provocations are quite likely when the snows melt. And they are beginning to melt.
Many in India, including senior officers, are tired of fighting militancy on Indian soil. The training camps, after all, are in Pakistan, most of them. Many Indian military officers and political leaders are still smarting from the last war. They are eager to teach Pakistan a lesson. The Indian Defense Minister and the Army Chief have both declared that a more proactive policy in dealing with militancy is now required and is, in fact, essential in dealing with militancy. In their view, limited war is both possible and necessary. And a limited war can be won on Pakistani soil. I would remind you that there are no escalation control mechanisms now in place that are worth a damned between India and Pakistan. And as I said, there are no communication channels that are reliable and that are currently in use.
Meanwhile, Indian and Pakistani nuclear programs continue apace. There is growing recognition in India that the last series of nuclear tests were not completely successful. And that the option to test again should remain open, which is not a good idea if you support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. There are no agreed rules of the road for nuclear safety in deep crisis in South Asia. Intelligence capabilities and mutual understanding of tolerance levels for limited war remain imprecise at best. For example, India did not know that the last war was coming. Pakistan may or may not have moved its nuclear capable missiles during the last war. It was the subject of one of the conversations between the two Prime Ministers, reportedly. Obviously this is a very, very sensitive point. What do you do in deep crisis when missiles that you believe to have nuclear weapons on their front end are moved out of their garages into the field? Neither side has a real time capability to know ground truth in South Asia.
The Indian Government has declared that it won’t be the first to use nuclear weapons but it has also issued a draft nuclear doctrine that places a high priority on the need for prompt retaliation. A readiness to use nuclear forces promptly looks a whole lot like a readiness for pre-emption. If your nuclear forces are vulnerable. Pakistani nuclear forces are vulnerable. They have a very limited, finite number of air fields for their nuclear capable air craft, missile garages and production facilities. They’re all within minutes of India’s strike aircraft. The coordinates of these facilities are publicly available. You can get one meter imagery off your web site to see them for yourself. So, to recapitulate there are no escalation control arrangements in South Asia, no reliable means of communication, no trust. Kashmir is on the boil. Pakistan continues to provoke India and India is spoiling for a fight. So another collision appears likely. And President Clinton is supposed to steer clear of neuralgic issues when he talks to South Asia’s leaders? I don’t think so.
The most consequential issues facing India and Pakistan today are nuclear related and Kashmir related. If the President relegates these topics to the end of his talking points he will be doing a disservice to the people of both countries and to the international community. Granted the President needs to handle these issues very differently in public and in private, in India and in Pakistan. But nothing he talks about in India and Pakistan is more important than the need for nuclear restraint and the need to re-evaluate Indian and Pakistani policies toward Kashmir. This is a time for tough private messages as well as a time for photo opportunities. Leading Indian strategists and government officials confidently predicted that off-setting nuclear capabilities would usher in a period of political stability and sobriety. They were totally wrong. Badly wrong. Off-setting nuclear capabilities have, instead, ushered in a period of instability and risk taking. Now these same Indian strategists and political leaders are claiming that a limited offensive war can be won without nuclear risk. Should we trust their judgment?
Strategic stability and nuclear safety requires at a minimum mutual agreement to accept the status quo in sensitive areas. Two, avoidance of brinkmanship. Three, reliable communication channels. Four, trust in the private messages that are conveyed. And, lastly, solid monitoring and verification arrangements.
It took the Soviet Union and the United States at least 15 years to put these conditions in place. To stop the crises in Berlin. To refrain from nuclear brinksmanship, putting weapons in each others’ backyard. It took us 15 years to do this, to reach a stable equilibrium. None of the conditions for strategic stability and nuclear safety are now in place in South Asia. Not a one of them. India and Pakistan are walking on a dangerous tightrope without a safety net. Should President Clinton change the subject and talk about micro-credit, economic growth rates and computer chips. Well, yes, he should talk about all these things and he will talk about all these things. But nothing is more important than reducing nuclear dangers and creating stable conditions with respect to Kashmir.
These issues belong at the very top of President Clinton’s private discussions with Prime Minister Vajpayee and General Mudharraf. Thank you.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Thank you Michael. Jagdish—
Mr. JAGDISH BHAGWATI (Columbia University): Well, broadly speaking I agree with the position that the nuclear situation is something you want to worry about. But I think we have a very exaggerated position here on the part of Michael Krepon that that’s the only thing that matters and that somehow the situation is one that is on the boiling point.
We’ve had situations like that. The very fact that for fifteen years you people went through that and did not have, essentially, a nuclear war. You came close, you came away, so on and so forth. Fifteen years you managed at very primitive levels, like these two countries have, and the experience shows that you did not have a nuclear war and therefore the confidence with which you say—which I think is a slightly contemptuous attitude toward the capabilities of people like the Indian government, the Indian intellectuals and the policy wonks that they will not be able to handle this at all and that the President should actually have the ability to teach these people.
That’s exactly the attitude which I think you people ought to get away from, actually I shouldn’t say “you people,” I, myself, am a naturalized American. But that’s what we should get away from vis-a-vis India because that’s really the main thing that’s going on now. After years and years of the Indians really feeling that the relationship in Washington was really one where you were trying to equate it to Pakistan, which was a much smaller country. Finally the situation is changing dramatically, not because you and I think we ought to move in a certain direction, but because the dynamic of the situation. And I think that how you handle the nuclear issue, which I agree is a difficult one, has to take that shift of reality into account.
In a way, I think of an analogy, which was that the Indians were always saying, for the past few years, that “Look, we’re a democracy and Pakistan has had three dictatorships, military dictatorships. We are a secular country. We have problems with communalism and so on, but we try and fight it. The Islamic theocracy is really what Pakistan is into and that has actually been intensified. India is a much bigger country. Pakistan is a smaller country. And if the Americans, Washington would just listen.” And it drove the Indians up the wall. And this is exactly, in my judgment, an ironic situation, because earlier on the Indians were driving the Americans up the wall with the doctrine of non-alignment and they kept saying, the U.S. and Soviet Union must be treated with parity and, of course, Washington always pointed out, how could an empire which was by and large one by invitation and example, to use the international relations literature, how could that be compared and put on a parity with the Soviets who were really an “evil empire.” And the Indians would listen. Finally the reality has sunk in. Which is that the Soviet Union has collapsed. Indians cannot any longer take that point of view and Indians recognize that the United States is different. Not just that it has emerged as the bigger power, but that the United States has no essential parity with the Communist system.
In the same way I think the reality is sinking in in Washington entirely because of India’s success, at least now, vis-a-vis the collapse of, on the part of commerce, of Pakistan. And unless you take that—and I think this is what’s happening the President going there. Of course he’s worried, just as the Indians are worried and the Pakistanis I’m sure are worried, Mahnaz and others, about the nuclear situation. But he’s going there to reaffirm, in my judgment, a basic shift in the way you look at the sub-continent in the relationship between the two great democracies between a country that is really now coming of size in a very big way also because the Indians were shooting themselves in the foot without talking policies and very low foreign investment so the advantage of enormous size was reduced by its own policies. In 1991 you had $100 million dollars of inward investment in India, which is smaller than the Columbia University budget, at least I hope so. And that was the situation. Now the economy is growing rapidly. The economy is opening up. It creates an interest on our part. I think India is now moving into a phase which is so clearly different from what it was. So I see this as a tilt that is inevitable. I mean, nothing that you and I say is going to make it any different.
So the question then is how do we handle issues, including the nuclear one? I see Pakistan, and correct me, I hope we’ll have a discussion, I’m just going to up a hypothesis, that this is a situation which is very hard for Pakistan to take because it continues to be obsessed with the need for parity. During the Cold War it was naturally, for the reasons that we all know, it was able to establish parity. Now the real problem seems to me, not how to handle India but Pakistan on the nuclear issues. Because the desire to get the United States back to thinking in terms of parity, must mean that they must indulge in nuclear blandishments in trying to use nuclear blandishments again to start thinking in terms of being able to fight wars, which they might win, but basically to bring the situation up to a boil where Washington has no option but to think along the lines of Michael’s speech. But I don’t think that that’s going to result in war fare. You’ve had three limited wars and each time Pakistan got beaten. And the fourth one, you said a generous thing, they would not have gotten beaten, but they were in fact. Kargil was vacated in the end. I think this is a case where the President has to think whether or what kind of messages to deliver to Pakistan in this kind of situation. Ultimately, do we try and say, “Look, first strike is out. If you do it, just as Madeline Albright organizes the things around Bosnia and elsewhere, is really—we’ll come out heavily against anything like that. We do not encourage talk like that. Two, if you continue to give us problems in Kashmir, which should be solved down the road, just as Chinese and the Indians have cooled the thing and hope down the road the border dispute will be solved. There’s no point in keeping this on a boil, particularly when you are nuclear. And if you are going to indulge in terrorism then down the road we’ll have no option except to say we are going to have to declare you as a terrorist state.”
It seems to me that the Bud McFarland approach of carrying the bible, or whatever he did, to Iran is not the solution because that cannot work in this. Because at the moment Pakistan, in my judgment, is even more traumatized than ever before, because they see the reality which is easily seen. That the tilt that is nothing that we want to do from Washington is inevitable, it is happening for a variety of reasons in favor of India. We have to handle Pakistan’s psychology, I don’t know how to do it. But that is to me, that bi-lateral relationship has become much more important.
I would like to actually also prevent nuclear exchanges, breaking out not wittingly but un-wittingly. And I think that that is the most important that the President can do which is to give the experience of these particular years and the enormous experience we have with maintaining contacts and of course, these two countries are so close together that errors can have fatal consequences quickly. That is something we want to do. But I think that the witting move toward nuclear war is something which had to be simply stamped out. That is what I am worried about, sort of witting blandishment of nuclear weapons—“this is going to be on the boil unless you bring pressure on India.” You’ll never be able to bring pressure on India any more anybody else brought pressure on United States effectively. It simply is not going to work. And today the President, I think, has accepted that reality, in my judgment.
So I think, yes this is a real problem. But I think your diagnosis—unless you say that this is the biggest issue, yeah, ok, this is a big issue, you’ve got a nuclear war, I meant that is the biggest thing that could happen, but I think that the diagnosis is extremely important, in my view, this is happening right now, because, precisely, Pakistan is in a difficult situation, that’s where ingenuity, massaging, whatever, threats, tough love, I am not a foreign policy specialist. I mean that is where we have to go. I mean nothing is worse than to have a superiority complex and an inferior status. That is what Pakistan is going through right now, vis-a-vis us. We’ve been long time friends. This happened also with India, which had also shrunken to a lower status with bad policies. And India, of course, was getting edgy also, as a result, in world affairs. It’s beginning to change. So I would like to have Michael’s thoughts really. I mean, if this diagnosis has anything to it then how do we handle the situation. I’m in favor of handling it, obviously, how could we not handle it, it is in interest of all three parties and the world, actually, not to have war break out. So I do—
Ms. ISPAHANI: Accept the reality of India’s status and really focus on Pakistan’s capabilities, is that a realistic policy approach.
Mr. BHAGWATI: That’s not quite what I said—
Ms. ISPAHANI: Well, it’s my interpretation. It’s what I said. Is that a realistic approach?
Mr. KREPON: Well, in some ways Strobe Talbott and the Administration as a whole have bowed somewhat to ground realities, the nuclear programs of both countries. But, a let by-gones be by-gones approach is not very wise if you believe that the nuclear business is one long chain reaction. And a blessing of one country’s nuclear program usually does not make its neighbors any safer and tends to lead to additional nuclear capability. Nuclear dangers are growing globally. And no where are they growing more than in South Asia and a blessing of these programs, or one of the two programs, does not strike me as being a way out of this morass.
Jagdish, I did not say, for clarity, that nuclear issues are the only things that matter. Let me be clear about that. A lot of things matter in the U.S. relationship with India and with Pakistan. The economic transactions matter. Opening up sectors of the economy in these countries. Corruption matters. Lots of things matter. But nothing is more consequential than the nuclear issue. If we get everything else right and the nuclear issues spiral into some God-awful mess—where are we? We’re not in a good place.
You say that the U.S. and the Soviet Union managed to deal with nuclear dangers during this 15, 20 year long period of testing each other. Yes, we did. Through the grace of God. There were so many close calls—That would still be green if you hadn’t asked me your question. There were so many close calls. There were so many risks that were narrowly averted. There were so many technical glitches that, thank God, did not spiral out. Its precisely because I am very sensitive to the near misses that I raise the issue whenever I go to India and Pakistan. Believe me it is not about a supercilious approach to people of a different skin color—
Ms. ISPAHANI: Michael, on that note, let me interrupt you and turn to Jagdish to respond.
Mr. BHAGWATI: No, I think it’s very valuable for people like Michael and for the President, for that matter, to point out that things like de-alerting—and the variety of techniques that you and Soviets developed during these years ought to be put into place. But it seems to me that in the end, you are going to talk about these things in a context—in a political, international relations context. And I see the danger coming really from the fact that the whole tilt has moved away from Pakistan to India. And the fact that in Pakistan, because of the fourth military dictatorship right now, and 25 years of military dictatorship and increasing turns to religious fundamentalism, it seems to me that the ability of people like Mahnaz and others who are intellectuals there, to really freely debate possible issues—
Ms. ISPAHANI: Actually, I’m not, but—
Mr. BHAGWATI:—I know, you’re an American like me, but you know— intellectuals there. Their ability to articulate, without being heroic, dissent, to develop alternative proposals, to even respond to Michael Krepon and say “yes, you have a good point there.” That is limited. It seems to me that, I think as a long run policy where you are going to try and manage this thing, aside from de-alerting and so on, you really have to be able to suggest ways in which Pakistani public opinion is going to be able to develop. Because as long as it tends to be discouraged, and that is the lack of democracy, I just don’t see how you are going to be able to develop the alternative scenarios—the way you get people writing in public and talking in public about different solutions to the Kashmir crisis, how to do it. There are people who even say give it away. Who say go for the line of control. Partition, de facto. And a variety of things the way Indians, like Americans and the French, talk all the time about all sorts of things. But the democracy permits you to do that. But it seems to me that if you don’t have that in the same degree because of this drought over time, in my judgment, within Pakistan, because of the success of military rules. That I think we need to nurture that.
I would like to see the President think of a longer-run solution. There are no quick fixes to this. Absolutely no quick fixes. Even if you got CTBT you still are going to get—these weapons are still there. You may get de-altering, but you may still get some mad general still going ahead. We have generals, they would also be mad generals, going ahead and trying to do something. So I think that we have to work not for quick fixes, of course altert the sub-continental people to the dangers of running this current situation. But I think we have to work, as best we can, to support the public opinion in Pakistan. Encourage it to come forth. Which means telling Musharraf, maybe not even shaking hands with that guy, and saying “look I am just going to talk to the people at large.” I don’t know whether the President will be able to do but maybe he can’t do it on this one, he’s too nice a guy, but that is the kind of policy option we have to have. Then you would be able to solve Kashmir down the road. You could launch an Oslo process because there are intellectuals and people on both sides. That is where we want to go, I think. I am confident, I mean Pakistan is after all the same people as Indians, they were divided. Maybe I’m too optimistic about that kind of rapport developing and Kashmir being solved, in which case the nuclear issue also begins to be contained. But I think we have to think very differently from the way we have so far. This is to complement your point, not to refute it.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Let me just ask both of you. You just mentioned Kashmir in passing Michael. Obviously, I don’t quite agree with you that this is a down the road issue because I think that it’s one of the imminent and very prickly sources of nuclear dangers that are being faced in the region. Is there anything effective that U.S. leadership can do in the case of Kashmir, publicly or privately, or do you think that is off the agenda given the, as Jagdish describes it, the tilt toward India?
Mr. KREPON: Well, it’s off the agenda publicly in India. It’s not off the agenda privately and I suspect it will be on the public agenda in Pakistan as well as the private one. Pakistan’s Kashmir policy is killing Pakistan. And it’s killing a fair amount of Kashmiris too. India’s Kashmir policy is also a failure. Flat out. The level of alienation—I go there every year, to the valley, and the level of alienation is extraordinary from the Indian government. There’s an Alphonse and Gaston act going on between India and Pakistan. India knows where it wants to come out. It wants to come out at the line of control. But it doesn’t want to vocalize this. It wants to save it for the negotiating end-game. Pakistan hates the line of control solution and is not going to initiate new ideas on Kashmir. So they’re stuck.
One thing the President could do, if he were so inclined in India, would be to encourage this Indian government to be a little more pro-active on Kashmir and more creative about end states and more creative about vocalizing end states. They might be surprised about how much of the international community echoes these idea. But the central point for me about Kashmir is that this dispute is not becoming more soluble over time. Letting things cool off, for ten years, which is one idea I hear a fair amount in India is not going to work. If this dispute continues as is for ten years, there will be hell to pay even compared to today’s level of violence.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Let me ask you Jagdish. I wanted to ask you one other question. Often, U.S. policy towards the region has been very crisis driven, short term interventions, and there is a great deal of historical baggage that we carry in the region. You talk about a new approach and a real turning point in U.S. relations with the region which really involve an emphasis on the relationship with India. I hate to see this opportunity to discuss what the future of the relationship should be limited to the crisis that is being faced in the region. What are the building blocks of a longer term relationship—the most important?
Mr. BHAGWATI: I think certainly for India, and I don’t see why Pakistan should be ruled out from it if it is able to transcend and get the military orientation out of its regimes—it should be able to get back into the kind of shape that India has. I don’t think the rot has gone that deep. I don’t think it’s a failed state. But I think with India certainly, the relationship is now more one of an embrace of the kinds of commonalties which two countries have. I think Pakistan lacks that a little bit. Not just on the regime. But as far as India is concerned. There are two factors on this end that are very important which have, in my judgment, to do with Pakistan’s regimes.
You look around and see people people like Radha [Kumar] and me and all sorts of Indians, not a day goes past without stuff like Barbara [Crossette], I don’t know if Barbara herself does it, but some newspaper, some media celebrating some achievement at a very very high level. I mean I often say that we are the next Jews of America, the Indians. Merit oriented, highly successful. 1.2 million of them. I’m not even talking about the medical profession and so on. Literature, arts, sciences, journalism, everything. Literally everything. That is giving an enormous presence. That is where Pakistan is at such a big disadvantage because you don’t see. I mean I think that the high super-star level, or even the star-level Pakistanis you don’t see them, too many, in this country. That astonishes me as to why because it is the same people.
I remember when I was in Cambridge College the Nobel Laureate, Abdul Salam, was from Lahore and there was a famous mathematician from Lahore. I mean it is the same thing. They are highly gifted. Where have they gone? You just wonder about it. I think it has to do with the collapse of the educational system under these kinds of forces, fundamentalism, and military rule, because you have to have that spirit of inquiry. It’s very hard to sustain it so, few people escape, but you don’t have enough. I think that gives India an enormous advantage. True, you can’t get to the President necessarily without fat contributions or something but you know—I know Les Gelb and Les Gelb knows the President. Or I know Frank Wisner and Frank Wisner knows the President. So, because we are mixing with the elite. Because it is a merit oriented society our point of view gets heard, whether you like it or now. So that’s one enormous impact.
And now with the Silicon Valley all the numbers are astonishing. You have huge amounts of money sloshing around in the community that is also going to the different parties and that works wonders in Washington. I think those are the new realities, in my judgment. Those two new realities mean that the U.S.—Indian relationship is on a completely different course now.
I think what we have to do is to see how can we use this to really bring about some feasible way, relationship with India and Pakistan getting on. But I don’t think you can do it by going from here alone to India and telling India how to handle it. I think you really have to—the real problem is working on Pakistan. Unfortunately, we don’t really have too many people from there to really work the Indian route, as it were. India will change. India is bound to change in the direction of some sanity because of the way it’s set up right now, which is it’s great strength. So, I think it’s really a wonderful thing that’s going on—and not just because I’m from India—even if I was from Pakistan and I was looking at it more broadly I would say good, this is really getting the United States into the region which is really different than playing off one power against another, getting involved in all this ridiculous parity business and so on. Getting into it only when crisis are coming. Now there is real interest developing. Admittedly only in India at the moment, but I think you guys have to really get your act together. And I think that in some way the U.S. has to play that role of encouraging that. It’s the hardest thing. We all know. Social engineering of that kind is virtually impossible. But I think the very fact that when Musharraf took over one official came up and talked to some of the judges who refused to take loyalty oaths which means that the spark of liberty, democracy has not died out. It cannot ever die out. There are groups, there are people. We should be able to nurture them and then hope that in five or ten years it will work out. But who knows.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Thank you. We would like to open the floor to questions now.
Mr. STANLEY HEGINBOTHAM (The New York Academy of Sciences): I think Michael was very persuasive in arguing the seriousness of the threat of nuclear confrontation. The U.S. has been working this issue for a long time and we’ve generated a great deal of hostility on the parts of both governments with respect to our—So one part of the issue of priorities is what matters. The second part is what can we influence. Where can we have an impact? And I presume that Jagdish thinks we can have an impact on economic change in South Asia. I presume you think we can have an impact on security issues. I wondered if you would discuss what we can actually do that will have the consequence we want to have with respect to the issues that matter to each country.
Mr. KREPON: I think one thing we can do, Stan, is to clarify the abyss that India and Pakistan are heading toward. There is a great deal of confidence in the region that things can be managed. And then they get into war and war reserve stocks tend to be two weeks to three weeks only. And then a degree of panic sets in. The nuclear forces, added to this equation, will increase the level of concern once the next war starts. So one thing we can do it to clarify how dangerous this game is. It is awfully hard to be confident that you can keep the war limited when you have nothing in place to do so.
Number two, I do agree with Jagdish that in Pakistan it is extremely important for us to clarify to Pakistan the penalties attendant to their current policy vis-a-vis Kashmir. And we need to do it somehow in a way that doesn’t repeat the choreography of the Pressler amendment, which I fear. Remember the Pressler amendment very well. The U.S. put into public law a requirement that the President pull the plug on Pakistan if he could not declare that Pakistan had not crossed a certain threshold. There was a procession of very authoritative government officials who traveled to Islamabad and even more importantly to Rawalpindi where the military headquarters is located and said don’t cross this line, we’re really serious. And then the activities continues. We kind of erased the line that we had drawn in the sand and we drew a new line. And by the time President Bush imposed the Pressler amendment, Pakistan felt jilted. It was a terrible chapter in bi-lateral relations. We’re repeating that now. I have a hunch that President Clinton will go to Pakistan and say, “you know you really are in danger of being placed on the list of states that support terrorism. You have to sit on these groups for the well being of your country as well as for the future of our bilateral relations.” But the mere fact that he is going, that he is there, may suggest to some at general headquarters that we won’t pull this plug. The relationship is too important.
Jagdish says, declare Pakistan a terrorist state if they keep it up. If we do that, and it may come to this, then watch how the nuclear dangers multiply. And watch how the ability of the U.S. to influence Pakistan’s behaviors diminishes. We have to speak privately and clearly to both countries about Kashmir. The central irony of South Asia is that what Pakistan most desperately wants, that is to say international involvement to help sort this out, is unlikely, if it ever happened, to be comfortable to Pakistan. And this international involvement that India so peremptorily rejects and so desperately needs is likely to be comfortable to India. You have two nuclear weapon states, it’s awfully hard—changing the geographic ground truth in that region by force of arms is not on. And if you can’t change it by force of arms you’re unlikely to change it by diplomacy. But India can’t get there. It can’t get to the place of saying, “we really need some help here.” India needs help for its Pakistan problem and its folly to think that they don’t.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Thank you Michael. Radha.
RADHA KUMAR (Council on Foreign Relations): I had actually a series of questions related to what Jagdish has said. Number one on the question of the nuclear problem. I think everyone will agree that in the current situation and tension between India and Pakistan it poses an enormous threat and an enormous danger. Where there is disagreement—[inaudible]—if I might put the points very clearly. If there is an interest in handling the nuclear problem with India, then the most effective strategy would not to be simply to question the command and control, adherence to treaties, roll-back, de-escalation or establishing safeguards on both sides, because India doesn’t seem to—.and lead to questions of—even the argument that—.Indians, it is quite well known, are incredibly backward when it comes to understanding either nuclear issues or their operations. Very much worse than Pakistan on this. Where you can work with India when you talk of disarmament at a much wider level. There you have something that—.[end of side A]
—[tape resumes]—first of all for them the nuclear question is one of India. And it is a question of having to match or—.In terms of how you deal with the nuclear question as far as Pakistan is concerned. One you could actually talk treaties, command and control and more. Operations, deployment questions with Pakistan because they operate within that framework and they understand it very well. So number one it seems to me that you have to ask, how do you separate if you are talking about actually trying to get to a point of nuclear restraint if the two countries are going to have two different strategies. How do you do that?
Question number two within that context is, after all, the U.S. the best person to spearhead such an endeavor? Perhaps you need to think about what other countries need to be involved in this or could more fruitfully be effective.
Number three is Kashmir. While it is perfectly understandable that there should be a link between the nuclear dangers and Kashmir. That is, as far as the sub-continent is concerned, is really more a temporal, it’s a coincidental rather than an integral or essential link. So how do you begin to deal with Kashmir without always putting it into the context of the nuclear threat?
Ms. ISPAHANI: Are there any other questions related to Radha’s two questions?
HERBERT LEVIN (America-China Forum): I’m a little disappointed that no one, including Radha, has suggested that maybe the Kashmiris ought to have a voice in this. The idea of the Kashmiris as some kind of a bone for two dogs to fight over seems to me—an alternative should be explored for that. Kashmir is India’s West Bank and the question is how the hell do they get out of there. They can’t kill enough Kashmiris to make the residents love them. So we have to start off the controversy inside democratic India so that they leave. And if you spend time in Madras and Calcutta there are a lot of people who say get out of there. So the idea that the Indians are absolutely fixed and that you just have to get the mad Muslims back into shape bother me. But I think both presentations could be improved upon.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Thank you. Why don’t we take a moment to answer the questions. Mr. Talbott, do you have a question related to the Kashmiri issue? I guess everything can be connected to the Kashmir issue.
Mr. PHILLIPS TALBOT (Asia Society): I wonder what the panel would think of the proposition that with all the dangers in the nuclear capability there is also now an element of stability in the relationship between India and Pakistan that has not existed before the nuclear capability. For the first time, really, Pakistan thinks it has an answer to India’s overwhelming great strength and they sometimes are over-encouraged by this, as they are in Kashmir, but I would have thought that in Delhi and Islamabad there are people who do understand the nuclear weapon, who do understand that the prevailing winds are from Pakistan to India so that if the Indians should let one go in Pakistan the suffering would come back into Indian territory. People in Pakistan who understand that the Pakistani capability cannot match the Indian capability and therefore if Pakistan should start something it would be destroyed. It does seem to me that the Americans are not the only people interested in this nuclear confrontation. The Indians are. The Pakistanis are. And basically the ultimate decisions to what happens there will be in those two countries. My question is this, as I said, would the panel agree that the stability does change the analysis of the whole situation and how we should then go at the other questions, including not only Kashmir, but trade and exchange, the development of better strength in Pakistan.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Can Jagdish go first on this one? There are three or four different questions—
Mr. BHAGWATI: It’s hard to know where to begin, but it seems to me that certainly what Mr. Talbott said fits in with what I was saying which is that really the solutions to both the nuclear issue and the Kashmir issue have to come from within these countries. I don’t think that it’s going to gratuitously come from outside. Radha was also to some extent speaking to this, which of the powers might be useful. There is nothing wrong with the United States, after all it is a major power which is supposed to be interested now, certainly, it had a tilt towards Pakistan now it has a tilt towards India. So, it’s all balanced out, ok? So it has the element of neutrality if you take an inter-temporal approach to it. But maybe Britain, after all that is the mother country for all three powers, right? I mean, the United States, India and Pakistan. It might be wonderful if Tony Blair brought our great friend, Vanessa Redgrave out of moth balls. She used to be the CND. I used to go and watch her in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Unilateral. That was an idea before its time. It would be wonderful if Tony Blair said, “we don’t really need these weapons.” He could destroy them. What does he need them for? Before the economist starts lecturing to the sub-continent saying the President should not really go to these countries that have violated these things. Here is a country who could set an example and then play a role. So one could, in fact, seriously think about ways in which people, other powers, that have traditionally been involved in the subcontinent could make their own gestures and say “look we are going to do some things and kindly match us.”
There are all kinds of ideas one could come up with. I think it could be, but the basic initiative has to come from within the powers in my judgment. I think I would just say one thing. I don’t know how Mr. Levin got the impression that people were, maybe it was Michael Krepon you got it from, that somehow it was the Muslim factor in Kashmir that was the important one. But it seems to me that you’re right, absolutely, that the Kashmir situation has become worse and worse for India. But we have to admit, I don’t want to make a defense of India—you said, go and settle them or kill people. India throughout never went in for a settlement policy. That was because it was a democratic country. There would have been hell to pay if people had actually gone ahead and said, “let’s go and settle and swamp the population, that solves the problem.” We never did that. We even have Hindus being attacked and turned into refugees. We still haven’t reacted by going after the Muslims. So it is a bit of a tragedy from India’s point of view.
India has played it well from a human rights point of view, but now is in a situation where it is, in fact, because of the army being so deeply involved, in a bit of a problem. So, I do think the problem has to be solved and that’s what a lot of Indians think. Absolutely. But you’ve got to have somebody to match it with at the Pakistani end where you throw different solutions around and arrive at something that will accommodate both parties.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Thank you. Michael, could you address —
Mr. KREPON: I’m going to go from last to first. Mr. Talbott, the violence in Kashmir coincides with the period of time where both India and Pakistan had covert off-setting nuclear capabilities and when they went over it, they had a war. It was the first war in a generation. So, off-setting nuclear capabilities have not yet let to stability between India and Pakistan. They’ve led to brinkmanship. And maybe some way down the road, if we have space and time, they will lead to stability. But the evidence sure doesn’t point that way so far.
Now, Herb, there is no Arafat in the Valley of Kashmir. The Palestinians were fortunate to have only two choices. Arafat and Hamas. In Kashmir there was a time, then years ago, when there could have been a unified group with broad political representation that the Indian government could have talked to, but they killed it. They killed the leadership and now it’s a total mess. You get everybody and their brother-in-law speaking for something and someone. And what makes it difficult is that if you could somehow get—they would want to talk to the Indian authorities as a corporate entity, the Hurriet, which means that somehow you’ve got to, even if the Indian government would permit that, nobody within the Hurriet could step out and take a risky political position because he would get his legs cut out from under him by everybody else. So, it’s a real mess. The horse that the Indian government has chosen to ride is a loser and he has lost the confidence of the Kashmiri leaders. I can’t tell you how disturbing it is for me to walk the streets of Shrinagar and see how depressing that is and then go by the golf course and see a huge security force protecting the links because the chief minister is playing golf. It’s a mess. I haven’t even begun to talk about Azad Kashmir.
Ms. ISPAHANI: But I think you should turn your attention to the other questions as well.
Mr. KREPON: All right. Radha, India says that it’s not about Pakistan, the nuclear issue, it’s about China. It’s about Pakistan. The nuclear threat from China is not brandished. It’s not even visible. The nuclear dangers that India now faces come from Pakistan. The weaknesses of Pakistan and corruption of Pakistan, the decline of Pakistan and the commitment of military authorities in Pakistan to use the nuclear card to further their military actions in Kashmir. It’s all about Pakistan. It ain’t about China, at least not now.
Ms. KUMAR: If I may—my central point is that India’s nuclear program has very little to do with threat perception. Their tests have very little to do with threat. They have to do with establishing some historical notion of being a strong country, a strong political party. They would have an absolutely different set of imperatives to handle it.
Mr. KREPON: I agree with your analysis, I think, of why India went nuclear. It has a lot to do with domestic politics, but the BJP has opened a can of worms.
Ms. KUMHAR: Indeed, I agree.
Mr. BHAGWATI: But Michael, there is a dynamic to this also. Many people are not aware of thinking—not thinking in terms of China because ever since then people have become aware. After all if you were just looking at it objectively I would justify going nuclear on this basis but your problems with Tibet, because of the refugees, you won’t hand them over simply because Beijing wants it. You have the problem of China arming Pakistan on its program. You’ve got an unsettled border, which is low key, but it’s unsettled. How could you say that China is not something that Indians shouldn’t worry about—
Mr. KREPON:—I didn’t say that—
Mr. BHAGWATI:—I mean we can say that—because I think that in that context once you begin to think about this as a result of the nuclear—maybe it did not, the nuclear test didn’t come about as a result of that but certainly a whole lot of people who never thought about the issue now in retrospect think it was a damn good idea.
Mr. KREPON:—What I said was that the nuclear dangers that India faces come from Pakistan—
Mr. BHAGWATI:—Oh, yeah, you’re right on about that. The immediate ones definitely and very big ones.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Let us take two more questions before we have closing comments.
Ms. CORA WEISS (Samuel Rubin Foundation): I wanted to raise two points. One on the role of civil society. A year ago in The Hague, hundreds of Indians, Pakistanis and Kashmiris met virtually around the clock for five days and came out with a fantastic joint statement, a statement of very sincere desire to get together and protect each other and reject the governmental fighting over their land and they very much felt that they are never consulted and they are very smart people. And the same effort at mounting a civil society campaign happened just a few weeks ago in Dakha, Bangladesh when Indians, Pakistanis and Kashmiris met at an anti-nuclear conference which emerged with a declaration against the use of nuclear weapons. But India and Pakistan are not the only countries in the world with nuclear weapons. And there is an NPT conference coming up in a few weeks at the UN, another review, and as long as the nuclear weapon states are not going to get rid of their weapons, why should India and Pakistan.
Ms. ISPAHANI: There’s the question.
Mr. KREPON: Well, Radha mentioned it as well. Any hope to be successful with India on nuclear issues has to be couched, the initiative has to be couched, within the framework of disarmament and the U.S. over the last ten years has dismantled something like 10,000 war heads. Quietly. It is a very dangerous practice, takes some time, but we’re doing it. We are gradually building down the Cold War arsenal. But on treaties the U.S. record is bad, over the last five years and on nuclear doctrine and theology, the US record is worse and the United States Senate, of course, didn’t help matters much when they rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. So we don’t have the best standing in the world to talk to India about reducing nuclear dangers but there is a lot of wisdom in India and they ought to be able to see the wisdom of our experience in nuclear reduction measures, confidence building measures, reliable lines of communication, avoidance of brinkmanship and the like. That’s where I think the international community should speak with one voice. If not the United States, who? It’s not going to be Japan because Japan is under the nuclear umbrella and therefore they can’t talk to India. It’s not going to be Russia. Because Russia won’t sell military equipment to Pakistan and is India’s back pocket. It’s not going to be China, that’s not going to work in India. The only country that can really take the lead, I believe, is the United States. It would help if we walked the talk.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Thank you Michael. We’ll just take one last question and then have closing comments. You’ve been waiting. Could you identify yourself.
Ms. KIMBERLY ZISK (Barnard College): I’d like to follow up on Professor Baghwati’s comment about the mad generals. What would you think about the notion that a major part of U.S. policy should be encouraging nuclear safety measures, both in terms of the handling of materials in India and Pakistan and in terms of ensuring technological command and control so that a mad general can’t get in the way of whatever rational decision making there may be by the leadership in both countries.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Michael, could you wrap this into your closing comments.
Mr. KREPON: Yes, It’s just not possible for the United States to help emerging nuclear weapons states with command and control. We just can’t do it. We can’t provide them with permissive action links. We can’t bless nuclear arsenals. This is a political fact of life. Of countries that are outside the NPT. Of countries that are moving step by step in the wrong direction. We can’t do it. And if we did, it wouldn’t stop your mad general problem because a well connected can override the command and control arrangements. So, we have a problem here and I believe it is an insoluble problem and it’s part of a larger wave of nuclear dangers that are growing in India and Pakistan.
The most neuralgic issues for India, nuclear stuff and Kashmir, are also the most important issues. India does not now have solutions that point in the direction of safety and reconciliation. And I believe that it is the responsibility of the United States, not as a big brother, but as a friend of the region to help. Now there are ways to do it and ways not to do it. Giving a talk before the Indian Parliament about a solution to the Kashmir issue is probably not a good idea. But there are lots of things we can do privately. There are some things we can do publicly. The United States is entering into a new relationship with India. It’s as clear as day and it’s long overdue. Maybe as that relationship evolves, India’s comfort level with U.S. assistance in sensitive areas will grow. The United States’ relationship is also changing and all of the warning signs are flashing. Time is not working on behalf of the people of India and the people of Pakistan. The passage of time is the enemy. And the classic Indian approach of “let it lay. Let’s tackle this one later.” Isn’t going to work. At the same time we need to speak the truth to—and speak rather clearly to Pakistan’s military rulers because they are driving this country down. We can help.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Thank you, Michael. Your closing comments?
Mr. BHAGWATI: I think that Michael touches on the asymmetry of solutions we need to bring because there are two parties, India and Pakistan, and the situations are very different and the instrumentalities you would want to use to bring them together would be different because—I think Michael identified with India the problem is—they do not understand how important it is to get moving quickly and it reminds me of the time that, Carl Kasen, told me that when he and Averell Harriman went to India and met Nehru and said could we get Pakistan to withdraw troops so that they could be sent to the north to China and Nehru said “No, Ayub Khan Is not exactly our friend,” in very English understatement, and said “it won’t happen.” And then they went to Morarji Desai who said, “Oh, don’t worry, even if the Chinese come down it will be in another two hundred years or so we’ll kick them out.” So that time scale is—we here, one thinks immediately. I think to some extent you are reflecting that temptation and I think the Indians are probably too slow and have an extended time framework.
But the asymmetries in the relationships between—our relationship with India and Pakistan define the way in which we go because India is, in fact, democratic. It is not necessary for the United States government to go and tell people what to do. You go there. Dozens of people go there. You write things. You discuss things. And you have domestic public opinion that is also being formed. You also have ngos which are also working quite effectively. You can work from within. You have the instrumentality to bring out these points of view and a whole lot of Indians will change. I am told even the great hawk Subramanian, maybe because his son is a post-modernist historian in Paris, who might have convinced him within the family, but in any case, privately I’m told he has actually shown a willingness to move away from the rather more militant doctrines. Those are things which are possible in India. I think we as civil society, as intellectuals over here should be able to work the system that way.
In Pakistan you can’t do that. In Pakistan I think the real problem is the tilt having gone the other way and the generals running the country the moment you really have to work—they had the incentive to create the nuclear blandishments, so I think, something very different has to be tried like indicating to them clearly that we’re not going to get involved just because you say there is going to be a nuclear war. Take the incentive away, right? I’m not saying use punishments. But just say we’re not simply going to come in because you are blandishing something. You’re going to get hit. I mean if you want to talk real politics like Ken Waltz, just say it. It’s a much smaller country and India will survive and you won’t. You have to talk a very different language. And it seems to me that unless we distinguish between the kinds of regimes you are dealing with. What instrumentalities we have to be able to nudge both in the right direction I don’t think we’ll be able to have a reasonable policy. So we don’t need to have one unique policy because the two regimes have really moved apart, unfortunately, and that’s what you are seeing in the regional context. It’s no longer a matter of dealing with India and Pakistan together. They’re very different regimes. So my suggestion would be, golly you’re right, we better do something about this. I’ve become sufficiently American to want speedy reactions to these crises. But unless we recognize the kinds of regimes we are dealing with we are not going to get anywhere.
Ms. ISPAHANI: Thank you Jagdish. Thank you Michael. I think our speakers have highlighted for us some of the complexities of trying to make policies towards South-Asia. The problems seem very evident to us. The policy tools seem more elusive. It is an important part of the world and I urge the Council to continue to pay attention to it. Thank you for coming.