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Home Articles Flashpoints Letter to India, Pakistan Prime Ministers

Letter to India, Pakistan Prime Ministers

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Dear Prime Ministers Imran Khan and Narendra Modi,

I am writing because I am deeply concerned over the possibility of nuclear war in the Indian Subcontinent, which has been treated as an all too real possibility in recent days.

No political, social, or even religious objective can be so important that it ever can justify initiating a nuclear war. No objective can ever be so important that it can justify even the slightest risk of such a conflagration, given the catastrophic regional and global consequences thereof.

Both of you have even demonstrated by your own statements – that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan would have no winners – that deep in your own hearts both of you do both understand that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Yet by indulging in nuclear brinkmanship both of you court that risk.

Your own statements show both of you understand that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan – Pakistan with approximately 150/140 warheads, India with 140/130 – would result in the complete destruction of both societies.

Once more one has to ask 'what could possibly be worth the complete destruction of both Indian and Pakistani societies'?

What indeed, could be worth even a small risk that such an event sequence might, possibly, take place?

Even a small risk of subcontinental nuclear war is unacceptable, and the risks both of your court now are not small.

It must be emphasized here that we are not talking about a relatively small number of military casualties. Nor are we talking about the deaths of even a percentage of the total population such as during WW-II. Even such catastrophes are recoverable from, though it is doubtful that even these are justified by the real injustices done in Kashmir, or in order to diminish risks of terrorism. We are talking about the complete destruction of both India and Pakistan as functioning societies: And we believe that actually, both of you in your hearts (and minds) if you are honest with yourselves, really know this.

Maybe there will turn out to be no particular risk at all. The heated rhetoric will hopefully die down and be replaced by stumbling and half-hearted dialogue, or by posturing that is posturing as dialogue.

Or maybe not. Events have a way of spinning out of control, as they did in 1914. Heated rhetoric has a way of translating into military postures, and moves that would in other times be seen as almost routine (such as missile launches) become immediate military threats, requiring reciprocal action.

Reagan and Gorbachev in 1985, stated jointly that a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.

A nuclear war in the Indian subcontinent can never be won and must never be fought.(and must therefore never be initiated).

If one or both sides of a nuclear – armed and more or less equally matched duo such as India and Pakistan threaten nuclear war,(with or without actually placing nuclear forces on alert) that can only increase the risk of such an event actually taking place. That doesn't mean it will definitely take place – presumably one or both sides are playing 'chicken' hoping the other side will blink – but if neither side, out of misplaced macho – 'blinks', or if someone miscalculates or something goes wrong, then the result could be catastrophe. Its not a certainty, but it is an absolutely unacceptable risk.

The results of such miscalculation will far outweigh any atrocities whatsoever they be, taking place in Kashmir, and will far outweigh any rational calculation of any benefit that might have been gained by a seeming 'victory' by one side over the other.

Kashmir warrants rational discussion, not threats of subcontinental or global destruction, because no rational consideration warrants such threats.


We urge both sides to step back from the brink.

Specifically you should:

--Avoid military postures that might seem provocative or that might be responded to or percieved by the other side as a threat or potential threat.

--Avoid missile launches of whatsoever kind, and cancel any that are routinely scheduled, whether Agni, Prithvi, Ghazni or Ghauri.

--Withdraw troops from borders including especially the line of actual control.


--Refrain from threats of any kind, rhetorical or in terms of military posture.


--Commence a process of military to military confidence building.


Whatever the provocation, the potential destruction of India and Pakistani societies and cultures, not to mention a potential prompt body-count in the tens to hundreds of millions as well as global climatic consequences, are not justified and cannot be justified by anything whatsoever.


Truly, nuclear war between India and Pakistan cannot be won and must never be fought. Your governments must proceed knowing this is so and act accordingly.


John Hallam

Co-Convener, Abolition 2000 Nuclear Risk Reduction Group

Human Survival Project

People for Nuclear Disarmament

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Last Updated on Monday, 02 September 2019 16:08