India and Pakistan have fought four wars since their independence, including one after each broke out as a nuclear weapons power in 1998. A little more than 20 years ago, the two countries became the first nuclear-armed neighbors to fight a protracted conflict. In February 2019, after a terrorist attack in Indian-administered Kashmir, India became the first nuclear-armed country to use conventional airpower against its nuclear-armed neighbor. In August, the Indian government, after winning a historic electoral mandate in May, moved to abrogate the autonomy of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir remains at the center of broader disputes between India and Pakistan. Three of their four wars since 1947 were fought over that territory, which today remains highly militarized-a tinder box susceptible to be lit at any time.
In this context, what are the risks of a serious conflict in South Asia today between these two nuclear-armed neighbors? 21 years since their nuclear breakout, how have India and Pakistan operationalized their nuclear forces? Finally, amid Asia’s broader shifting geopolitics, how might the United States play a role in managing nuclear risks in the region?
Ankit Panda is an award-winning American writer, analyst, and researcher specializing in international security, defense, geopolitics, and economics. His work has appeared in a range of publications, including the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, the Diplomat, the Atlantic, the Daily Beast, Politico Magazine, and War on the Rocks. He is currently a senior editor at the Diplomat, where he writes daily on security, geopolitics, and economics in the Asia-Pacific region and hosts a popular podcast. He is also an adjunct senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, where his work focuses on nuclear and conventional force developments in Asia, deterrence, and nuclear strategy.
Panda has additionally published scholarly research in journals including the Washington Quarterly, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and India Review. He is additionally a contributor to the International Institute on Strategic Studies’ Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment and Strategic Survey. Panda is also a consultant for a number of governments, international institutions, and corporations. He is a frequent participant in Track-2 and Track-1.5 dialogues in Asia, Europe, and North America. Panda is a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He lives in New York City and tweets at @nktpnd. His forthcoming book, Kim Jong Un and the Bomb: Survival and Deterrence in North Korea, published by Hurst Publisher will be available in 2020.
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