WMU News

Will India and Pakistan use 'the bomb'?

June 13, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- As India and Pakistan mass troops on their borders to prepare for a possible conventional war, concern is rising that a confrontation between the two bitter enemies could become nuclear. Those fears have been fueled by recent statements from high-ranking officials from both countries, says Dr. Lawrence Ziring, a WMU professor of political science and an internationally recognized authority on hostilities between the two countries.

"We who have studied these countries tend to think that they don't comprehend as well as they should the magnitude of this weapon of mass destruction," Ziring says. "They say they do, but I've heard a representative from each side indicate that these weapons could be used in a conventional war. So that gives you pause. If, in fact, they do truly believe that such weapons are usable, that something can be gained from it in their use, then we are in deep trouble."

Ziring says that since both countries are highly populated, particularly India, estimates show that 15 to 30 million people could be killed in the first phase of a nuclear confrontation. Furthermore, both countries are ill equipped to deal with the health crisis that would follow, Ziring adds, and many more people would die in the weeks and months after a nuclear exchange.

Ziring says a nuclear showdown could come about if a full-scale conventional war erupts and intensifies. But ultimately, he believes the two countries will refrain from using nuclear weapons.

"I have to believe that these people, when it comes down to the moment of decision, that their more rational side will will out and they will not consider this an option," he says.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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