The Scenarios of the India-Pakistan Confrontation

There’s an article over at Reuters listing some of the possible scenarios that might emerge in the confrontation between India and Pakistan. I think the article is best described as an editorial.

A mixture of opinion and superficial analysis, if it had a by-line it would be an op-ed. It’s not a news article since it’s not reporting the news. It’s too lightweight to be analysis. It’s basically a blog post but, since it comes from a legitimate news outlet, I guess it’s an editorial.

The editorial lays out three possible scenarios. War:

If conflict were to begin, analysts see the most likely scenario as an Indian strike on what it sees as militant targets in Pakistani Kashmir or in Pakistan’s Punjab province. The Pakistani military has vowed to respond to any such strike “within minutes”. Tit-for-tat missile strikes would be followed by the rapid mobilisation of troops along the line separating the two sides in disputed Kashmir and along their international border that runs south to the Arabian Sea. Both sides have hundreds of thousands of soldiers and large amounts of a range of military hardware based near their frontier. Their navies would face off in the Arabian Sea and analysts say India would probably try to block Pakistan’s main port of Karachi.

The fear is that strikes and counter-strikes would rapidly escalate between two countries armed with nuclear weapons and various ways of delivering them.


India has imposed a “pause” on a peace process begun in 2004, which had brought better ties. Pakistan has said it regrets the move but there is nothing it can do if its interlocutor doesn’t want to talk. For the time being, a resumption of the peace process would be unpopular with the Indian public so the pause is likely to last at least until May elections in India.

In the longer term, India probably realises it’s better to engage Pakistan than ignore it, and it would like to help civilian leaders establish authority over the generals.

And “none of the above”:

If, analysts say, the Pakistani military refuses to abandon old jihadi assets, there will be no war and no peace. Instead there’s a real danger both sides could use non-state proxies to try to destabilise each other. India says Pakistan backs violence in Indian-controlled Kashmir and other areas while Pakistan says India stirs up trouble in western and northwestern regions on the Afghan border. The world would be haunted by periodic crises and fear of nuclear war between the neighbours.

It seems to me that whatever happens will be determined not by the merits of the case as the editorial suggests but by domestic political considerations in India and Pakistan. As I read the tealeaves Pakistan’s internal political situation prevents its government from acting and India’s political situation requires the government to act. That certainly looks like a formula for escalation to me.

But Reuters is a wire service, for goodness sake. Can’t it do better than this?

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Eneils Bailey says:

    There’s not to be peace in this region for years to come.

    Given the GWOT, a phrase to be held in great disdain to the far left, India must sustain a a resistance force to Pakistan to the West.
    Afghanistan, must be held and controlled by Allied forces to prevent the spread of terrorism by Pakistan from the West. Iran lies to the West of Pakistan, located between Afghanistan and Iraq, which could put their nuts in a vise.

    Listen, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my children, my grandchildren, or any US citizen have their life threaten by any thirteenth century barbarian who has not realized the world has changed: please adjust your religious thoughts to reflect six or seven centuries of change.

    I doubt that will happen; many more people may have to die…