Escalation between two nuclear powers worrying for entire region, say experts
Dhaka is monitoring the escalating situation in Kashmir evolving from the February 14 terrorist attack in the Indian-occupied part of the disputed territory, and Indian fighter jet strikes in the Pakistan-held part of Kashmir, violating the line of control on Tuesday.
Bangladesh hopes that nuclear-armed India and Pakistan will immediately take measures to deescalate the tension.
Meanwhile, experts say the prevailing situation involving Kashmir is worrying for the entire region, as both India and Pakistan are regional powers with large arsenals of conventional and nuclear weapons.
They stressed that New Delhi and Islamabad should immediately deescalate the mounting tension by holding alks and finding a solution to the crisis.
India said its warplanes struck a militant training camp inside Pakistan on Tuesday and killed "a very large number" of fighters, raising the risk of conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
The airstrike near the town of Balakot, some 50 kilometres from the frontier, was the deepest cross-border raid launched by India since the last of its three wars with Pakistan in 1971.
Although Pakistani officials denied there had been any casualties, Islamabad condemned New Delhi’s action and said it would respond at a time and place of its choice.
“We are indeed monitoring the situation involving Kashmir. We hope that the tension will deescalate soon for the stability of the entire South Asian region,” a top official of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday.
“A war never produces good results for any country,” said the official.
Former foreign secretary Touhid Hossain echoed: “Since we live in the region, we have to be worried. The countries involved in the crisis are armed with nuclear weapon which makes the people of the region even more concerned.”
“We want peace. We do not want conflicts,” he said, expressing optimism that common sense would prevail and India and Pakistan would put more efforts into solving the problem through discussions involving the people of Kashmir.
The former diplomat, however, also asserted: “The first priority of New Delhi and Islamabad should be to deescalate the tension.”
Larger impact on the region
“The situation is still at the local level. If it is not contained locally, it will have a larger impact on the wider region,” said Maj Gen (retd) ANM Muniruzzaman, president of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies.
“As we are part of the region, definitely we will be affected,” he added.
He said existing confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan should be activated.
Two countries are “fighting” over Kashmir, but the people of the territory do not have any say, he observed.
Expressing similar concerns, Dhaka University’s international relations teacher, Prof Imtiaz Ahmed, told the Dhaka Tribune: “When it comes to any prospect of a conflict, you have to remember that both [India and Pakistan] are regional powers and people feel more nervous as they possess nuclear weapons.”
“No one will benefit from a war, so it will be better for these two countries as well as the whole region, if they engage in talks to solve the crisis,” he said, describing the ongoing situation as dangerous.
“Look, India is going to hold elections shortly and if the escalation has something do with Indian domestic politics, it will be unfortunate as well as dangerous,” he added.
Bangladesh and other countries in this region can think of a concerted effort to diffuse the tension between India and Pakistan, Imtiaz suggested.