Perception, Politics, and Security in South Asia: the Compound Crisis of 1990

Perception, Politics, and Security in South Asia: the Compound Crisis of 1990

Perception, Politics, and Security in South Asia: the Compound Crisis of 1990

Perception, Politics, and Security in South Asia: the Compound Crisis of 1990

Synopsis

This book provides a detailed examination of the compound crisis between India and Pakistan that brought the region to the brink of a nuclear war in 1990 and places the crisis in the context of concurrent international events.

Excerpt

In early 1990, a major crisis broke out in South Asia between India and Pakistan. This crisis has - with good reason - been much studied and discussed. However, it was not a single event but a confluence of actions, statements, and perceptions that interacted over the brief period of four months - it was thus shorter than other crises that have occurred in South Asia and elsewhere (such as the events that led to the war of 1971 between the two states, or the slow-mounting crisis that led to World War I), but it lasted considerably longer than the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The crisis of early 1990 was preceded by the Brasstacks crisis of 1987, which lasted, in its critical phase, no more than a week or two. The 1990 crisis was followed in the next few years by several alarms, lasting two or three days at most, and then in 1999 by an even more serious confrontation between India and Pakistan in the Kargil region of Kashmir. In 2001-2 there was an extended crisis - some have called it brinkmanship, others have termed it “coercive diplomacy” - that brought the armed forces of India and Pakistan on a high state of alert for nearly six months.

In the minds of many outside observers, South Asia has become identified as a crisis-prone region, and since 1990 these crises have carried the threat of escalation from harsh diplomacy, to limited war, to a wider conventional war, to the possible use of nuclear weapons.

The crisis of 1990 was also significant in the sense that both participants and observers believed they were witnessing a progression of events that portended direct conflict. However, perspectives of the crisis differed significantly among observers and participants and have been judged differently with the benefit of hindsight.

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