Cold war part two?
By Michelle Demeyere
Now that the smoke has settled from India's five nuclear weapons tests in mid-May and Pakistan's nuclear response of six tests last week, the reality of a nuclear arms race in South Asia or even a nuclear war, appears to be more daunting.
Salim Mansur, an international relations professor at Western explained the stand-off between Pakistan and India is dangerous because it does not garner the same kind of respect the "mutually assured destruction" or MAD policy offered the United States and the Soviet Union in their 45-year long cold war.
He added the two countries have outstanding issues, unlike the early cold war relationship. The ownership of Kashmir, a mountainous area known for its beauty and cradled between Pakistan, India and China, has been the cause of two of the three wars since Pakistan separated from India as a Muslim state in 1947.
"They are not the same kind of ideological differences as between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.. It's more direct between these neighbours. Pakistan is obsessed with India and has a history of playing catch-up with India," Mansur said.
Hussein Hamdani, president of the Muslim Students' Association at Western, said there is no irrationality in the actions of Pakistan. "Pakistan was completely justified in testing their nuclear bombs. What they did was consistent with the Quran message to prepare for war with strength to deter the enemy."
Pras Chatterjee, president of the Indo-Canadian Student's Association, echoed the sentiment of many Indians in Canada and in India. "Why shouldn't a country that has one-sixth of the world's population decide their own nuclear fate?"
Angela Misri, a graduate student in journalism originally from the Hindu part of Kashmir, was not optimistic the realities of a nuclear arsenal or economic sanctions will be much of a deterrent. "The Indian government is taking advantage of people's ignorance. People cheering in the street think a nuclear bomb is just a bigger gun. In the meantime, everything is so corrupt, they don't know who's going to push the button."