ISLAMABAD - Former Premier of Canadian Alberta province Alison Redford has said that instead of ignoring the complicated dynamics in the region vis-à-vis India-Pakistan conflict and relying on history, the international community should assess all the incidents on their merits.

In an article recently published in a Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, Redford said there had been times when both countries had been accused of being involved in unwarranted actions against the other and the international community was quick to ignore the complicated dynamics in the region and rely on history.

“Instead, each incident should be assessed on its own merits to avoid dangerous rivalries from being perpetuated.

With a real nuclear risk, we cannot afford to be complacent,” she opined in the article.

Redford, who now studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, believed that the consequences of the animosity of these two nuclear powers extends far beyond their own borders.

Redford stresses int’l community’s role to avoid exacerbation of rivalries

“We need to examine the events of the past week to support more constructive dialogue in the region and reduce the risk of growing military and nuclear conflict.

The various alliances that India and Pakistan have with China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United States and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) mean that if hostilities increase, there is the risk of many countries becoming involved in the defence of their traditional allies. We have seen what this has meant in Afghanistan for the past 30 years and how that has affected the rest of the world.

The international community must look beyond the mounting narrative of historical misdeeds and stop allowing rhetoric to exacerbate this dangerous rivalry.

Global powers have to stop relying on their historic biases in this conflict and must insist that unproven accusations are not sufficient to justify acts that can lead to war and escalation of the nuclear threat.

Redford who had also served as a consultant to the World Bank on energy regulation in Pakistan said for too long, Pakistan’s actions have been unreasonably characterized as aggressive. The primary conflict between India and Pakistan has focused on Kashmir, which continues to exacerbate a dangerous cross-border relationship.

Mentioning the recent skirmishes between Pakistan and India and downing of Indian aircraft by Pakistan Air Force in retaliation to Indian attack and releasing of captured Indian pilot by Pakistan, she said there is no dispute as to the events that took place, but the characterization of them has made resolution more difficult. 

She said in various media outlets this week, Pakistan had been characterized as the aggressor in this latest round of military activity. However, the facts demonstrate a different reality.

Indian military jets breached the line of control and launched an attack on civilian targets in Pakistan, (even boasting of civilian deaths), based on an unproven allegation that the insurgents responsible for the Kashmir attack against Indian soldiers were supported by Pakistan.

First, in media reports, India refers to 40 years of terrorist attacks against India by Pakistan without equal mention of terror attacks perpetrated by India on Pakistani soil, as recently as three months ago in Karachi, or India’s support for insurgents operating in the Northwest of Pakistan over the past 10 years.

Second, although in the past there have been allegations that Jaish-e-Mohammed has been supported by Pakistan, the organization has been banned in Pakistan since 2002.

Yet, India continues to assert this position, without providing evidence to support it.

Third, it is against the fundamental principles of international law to launch a military attack on civilian targets, which can be considered an act of war. In those circumstances, one can argue that Pakistan had the right to defend itself and that its response was both measured and reasonable.

On the Kashmiri question, Pakistan has called for United Nations mediation, but India has refused, saying that it is an internal issue, while violently suppressing a growing, and younger, local insurgent movement.

Redford said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized India for using excessive force in 2017. More than 500 people, including 100 civilians, have been killed in 2018.

In recent months, India’s tactics have been increasingly violent, leading to more international criticism of its conduct and occupation of Kashmir, including most recently by British parliamentarians, and two resolutions at the OIC this past weekend condemning its violent actions in Indian-occupied Kashmir.