For immediate release, February 26, 2002

For further information contact:

Arjun Makhijani or Michele Boyd: 301-270-5500

Press Release

Nuclear-Armed India and Pakistan Must De-Escalate Military Buildup, Work Toward Disarmament

Washington, DC, February 26, 2002: The danger of large-scale war that might include nuclear weapons is greater today than it has ever been, according to Admiral L. Ramdas, retired chief of the Indian Navy. He is on a tour of the United States to speak about the military situation in South Asia it relates to terrorism and the risk of nuclear war, and the hurdles facing nuclear disarmament in the region and the world. Admiral Ramdas is currently the Chairperson of the Indian chapter of the Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy and a member of the National Committee of India’s Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace. The tour is jointly organized by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) and Women’s Actions for New Directions (WAND).

“Right now, India and Pakistan are eyeball-to-eyeball with the largest military buildup in their history – a million soldiers confronting each other at the border,” said Admiral Ramdas (ret.) “The risks of escalation – from a conventional war over the disputed territory of Kashmir to a nuclear exchange – is greater than it has ever been. The governments of both India and Pakistan must immediately de-escalate the military buildup on the border, revive people-to-people contacts, and come together in the cause of global nuclear disarmament.”

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated rapidly in the wake of two terrorist attacks last fall – one on the Kashmir’s Parliament and the other on India’s Parliament House in New Delhi. India has accused Pakistan of harboring and supporting the terrorists responsible for the attacks. Pakistan has taken some actions to arrest suspects, but not to the satisfaction of India.

“Pakistan’s leader, General Musharraf, has imposed a ban on many terrorist groups functioning out of Pakistan, including two groups identified by India,” explained Admiral Ramdas. “General Musharraf has also made it very clear that no terrorist groups will be permitted to function from within Pakistan to carry out militancy outside Pakistan, including in Kashmir. One hopes that this will be translated into action on the ground in the near future.”

“At the same time, greater U.S. presence in Central and South Asia as a sequel to the “war against terror” is not a positive development in terms of regional stability and peace,” continued Admiral Ramdas. “There are indications that US presence in this region to be of a longish duration. This may trigger a new demand for other forms of emerging strategic partnerships and the possible commencement of a Cold War II — with the US and the West on the one hand, and China, Russia and India on the other.”

General Musharraf has proposed a “No War Pact” with India and “denuclearization” of South Asia. India has rejected this offer, claiming that denuclearization in South Asia has no meaning without global disarmament. “Unfortunately, this offer to discuss nuclear matters has been rejected by the Government of India,” said Admiral Ramdas. “Similarly, timing of the test of the Agni II solid-fuelled rocket was inadvisable and unfortunate.”

“The United States and Russia could help ease tensions between India and Pakistan by advocating a policy of taking all weapons off high-alert that applied first of all to their own weapons,” said Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER). “A program of verified de-alerting between the U.S. and Russia would increase the likelihood of India’s acceptance of a similar program, leading to a zero alert status in South Asia that would greatly increase the region’s and the world’s security.”

“India and Pakistan lack effective command, control, communication and intelligence systems,” stated Admiral Ramdas. “When these infrastructures are not there, it makes the whole system more sensitive, accident-prone, and therefore dangerous. Global zero alert would be a major step towards providing a de facto security guarantee.”

Admiral Ramdas’ writings on Indian-Pakistani relations, nuclear matters, peace, and disarmament have been featured in many newspapers and journals.


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