Stimson Center’s Visiting Fellow Rafi Khan argues that continuing hostility between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, an issue at the core of three conventional wars and one limited one between the two neighbors, has assumed critically dangerous proportions due to both countries’ nuclear capabilities. Thus far, all bilateral efforts have failed to bring about a lasting peace because of “an absence of trust, strong political will to resolve the Kashmir dispute, and dispute resolution mechanisms, monitoring, and enforcement.” In light of a lack of stable deterrence between India and Pakistan, Khan calls on both countries to establish nuclear risk reduction centers (NRRCs). NRRCs could be used to facilitate a rapid exchange of relevant information through official channels among other key functions and would essentially serve to prevent unintended signals from leading to a crisis or inadvertent nuclear escalation. Khan emphasizes that NRRCs cannot and should not replace the political and diplomatic process of conflict resolution sorely needed in South Asia; nevertheless, NRRCs have a crucial role to play in not only demonstrating responsible nuclear stewardship and minimizing the risk of a nuclear confrontation but in fostering an environment of greater trust which can feed into breaking the current political deadlock between India and Pakistan.
The author is the Deputy Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs, Strategic Plans Division, JSHQ, Pakistan Army