Since hi-tech innovations transformed the world into a global village, the Earth has also been threatened by the inventions of deadly nuclear and thermonuclear warheads. The weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which were introduced and warehoused by the big powers in the name of security, dragged smaller nations into the race: developing the same deadly weapons to keep abreast of the superpowers.
Unfortunately the two key
rival countries in South Asia, India and Pakistan, became competitors in the development of atomic warheads because of a reciprocal fear ensuing from 50 years of geo-political disputes.
During his last visit to Pakistan, US President George W. Bush said, “The best way for Kashmir to be resolved is for leaders of both countries to step up and lead”.
In today’s global situation it is hard to conceive that the United States would dictate to Pakistan or India on Kashmir. Pakistan is playing a vital role in the US global war on terrorism: on the other hand, the US needs India to be on its side to deal with the rising power of China in the region. Therefore, the US administration needs the support of both countries.
During his last visit to India, President Bush said, “India and Pakistan have an historic opportunity to work towards lasting peace. Prime Minister Singh and President Musharraf have shown themselves to be leaders of courage and vision. And I encourage them to continue making progress on all issues, including Kashmir.”
President Bush has spoken vigilantly about taking a firm stance on Kashmir but has not emphasised that India and Pakistan should attempt to resolve the dispute with bilateral negotiations.
South Asia, which is home to the most ancient civilisations, beautiful cultures, age-old traditions, an important trade market with major agriculture cultivation landscapes and pool of multi-skilled people, remains one of the most disadvantaged parts of the world.
The dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and the political flux in other states of the region are the major causes of instability of South Asia. The Indo-Pakistani border skirmishes; ferocious religious and caste-based politics in India; corrupt and undemocratic ruling powers in Pakistan; Sinhala-Tamil ethnic violence in Sri Lanka; military dictatorship in Burma; political shakiness in Nepal and Bangladesh: these are the major obstacles to South Asian stability.
One-third of South Asia’s 1.4 billion people live on less than $1 per day. Only 55 per cent of the adult population is literate, with the literacy rate for adult females only 44 per cent.
Rather than working for the welfare of their people - by improving the quality of life, accelerating economic growth and social progress, and cultural development - the ruling forces spend public funds on defence. In particular both India and Pakistan spend part of their annual budgets on nuclear weapons instead of spending it on human development and maintaining a better environment. In 2005, India’s defence expenditure was $19.04 billion or 2.5 per cent of GDP, whereas Pakistan’s defence expenditure was $4.26 billion or 3.9 per cent of GDP.
The major stumbling block for regional stability is the unresolved issue of Kashmir, which originated when British rulers dismantled their Indian empire, during partition of the subcontinent in 1947, and departed the subcontinent with the creation of Pakistan and India.
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