The Donald Trump White House will have a fairly crowded foreign policy roster to deal with. From what has been said of the president-elect’s agenda for his initial months in office, Russia, the threat of ISIL and the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, tensions in the South China sea, and his promises to renegotiate or abandon certain international trade pacts are likely to be his top priorities. South Asia does not seem to have made this list. And yet, the region presents some of the gravest threats to global security. Islamist terrorists and the conflict in Afghanistan remain huge challenges. But even greater is the danger posed by the threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan.
The world has recently been reminded of just how tenuous the India-Pakistan relationship remains. Bilateral tensions have been alarmingly high since a September 18 terrorist attack in Uri in the disputed territory of Kashmir killed 19 Indian soldiers. India blamed Pakistan, and responded by using military force inside Pakistan-controlled territory. Since that incident, both sides have continued to exchange fire across the Line of Control that divides Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, resulting in significant military and civilian casualties. The situation flared up significantly last week after India claimed that Pakistani commandos had killed three Indian soldiers. Days earlier, Pakistan reported that it had lost seven soldiers to Indian firing in one night.
India and Pakistan are the only regional nuclear states in the world to be locked in an acutely crisis-prone relationship. Heightened crises offer terrorists the most realistic opportunities to breach Pakistani and Indian nuclear security protocols and gain access to their arsenals. Further, experts predict that an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange could “blot out the sun, starving much of the human race.”. It could be the end of the world as we know it.