India/Pakistan escalates--who else gets sucked in?

Now that (nuclear) India and (nuclear) Pakistan are exchanging gunfire again on a regular basis, if they go to all-out war, what other countries would get sucked in, and on what sides, if any? We’ve got the USA parked in Pakistan and Afghanistan at the moment, and China just over the border. Any WAGs?

Well, if you want a little bit of worst-case, sky-is-falling, apocalyptic drumming, I’ll be happy to provide a scenario.

India and Pakistan begin thumping on one another. Indian mobile units focus on all of Kashmir, while Pakistan attempts to distract by performing a similar invasion into Indian territory to the south.

Days into the conflict, the Arab League throws its support Pakistan’s way. Saudi Arabian and other modern air forces begin patrolling deep into the Indian Ocean. Reinforcements are sent through Iraq, and Iran allows passage into Pakistan. In the meantime, China also begins massing troops in its part of Kashmir and demands an Indian withdrawal, which is refused. Chinese artillery begins shelling the Indian North flank.

But by then, Indian forces have fought their way through the Pakistani highlands and are beginning to sweep south, endangering Pakistani nuclear facilities. The Pakistanis begin readying their liquid-fueled rockets. American spy-satellites spot the characteristic heat signatures of rockets being fueled, and gather up their special forces–already in the area–with a plan to capture the launch vehicles before they can be sent.

As the situation rapidly begins to spin out of control, Rangers are parachuted around the perimiter of the launch facilities, while Special Forces and Delta troops are helicoptered straight in with the mission to prevent the launches by any means. They are successful, but as a result, China begins sending troops across the border into Indian Kashmir.

American and Indian elite forces are trapped inside Pakistan, with opposing reinforcements on the way from the North and from the West.

American supply-drops into the launch facilities begin to be contested by Pakistani air forces and AA. In the meantime, Palestine boils over once again and Israel, noting that Arab “reinforcements” to Pakistan are staging just across the Jordan River from the West Bank, preemptively hits their supply columns with air strikes. The IDF is fully mobilized.

As the military situation begins to deteriorate, India announces that if their troops are not allowed to withdraw back to the line of control in Kashmir, undisclosed targets outside of Pakistan will be subjected to attack. Chinese airspace is deeply penetrated in a conventional bombing run, while Indian naval aircraft, launched from their single aircraft carrier, suddenly clash with Saudi Arabian F-15s in the Arabian Sea. American naval units are attacked in the Persian Gulf, chasing our carrier group into the Indian Ocean.

Terrorist strikes are launched against India, Israel, and America, enraging them further. America demands a complete cessation of all hostilities or it will begin defending its interests throughout the region. American airbases in the U.A.E. are probed, and armored columns are seen to be advancing upon the bases in Saudi Arabia, which are lightly defended.

Finally, India announces that if a cease-fire is not met within forty-eight hours, Mecca, Medina, and Karachi will be subject to nuclear retaliation. China states that if nuclear weapons are used, American cities on the West Coast will be considered for retaliatory strikes. America states categorically that if attacked with weapons of mass destruction, they will respond with overwhelming force against the attacker.

And everyone holds their breath. Sleep well, my children.

I agree with the beginning of Sofa’s scenario, but the member states of the Arab League are more notorious for going to war with each other rather than forming large-scale alliances.

Iraq offers to send to military reinforcements, but Iran, remembering their bitter war with Iraq, refuses to allow passage of any large military column. Rumours abound, perhaps confirmed by American satellite and SR-71 intel, of small-scale movements of Iraqi missile units into and through Iran, under heavy Iranian guard, with the possibility of delivering chemical weapons to the Pakistanis. The Indians, remembering the Union Carbide disaster, announce that any attack involving chemical weapons will meet with “grave repercussions”, which everyone takes to mean nuclear. China goes on full alert as a matter of course and several divisions of the PLA start moving south-west.

The Pentagon, of course, goes completely apeshit and starts evacuating all but the most elite forces from Afghanistan/Pakistan. Wildcards like Israel and North Korea wait to see what will happen and the Canadians plead for calm (I had to throw them in somewhere). The American 7th Fleet hovers off the coast and there is screaming in the U.N. to declare the Kashmir a Peacekeeping zone. If they succeed, the area is soon filled with blue helmet-wearing Canadians and becomes the Cyprus of Asia. Otherwise…

Sooner or later, somebody screws up. A suicide bomber attacks the Indian Parliament, which inspires large-scale conventional air attacks on Pakistani civilian targets. The Pakistanis start fuelling their missiles. Meanwhile, George W. Bush has to be constantly reminded that sending in cowboys won’t work against these “Indians”.

Sweet dreams.

nice scenario Sofa.

Don’t get me wrong, I love doomsday-scenario discussions but this one doesn’t work (for me).

Why would China get involved? Their economy is just getting going and they have their own problems with Islamic extremists. They would be highly unlikely to weigh in on Pakistan’s side. Especially if that means antagonising America. No way would China start threatening American cities in retaliation for Indian use of nukes.

Likewise, the arab countries would stay out of it. Their hearts would be with Pakistan but their wallets would be with America.

In the event of a war between India and Pakistan, I think everyone would stay out of it in order to try and limit it to a regional conflict. They’ve had wars before, those two. If it went nuclear then that’s all the more reason why other countries would want to stay out of it.

However if we did see the doomsday scenario of a world wide conflict, my guess is we’d see America, Russia, China and possibly even the EU allying themselves with India. In other words, Pakistan would be in big trouble.

This is because Pakistan has long been a state-sponsor of terrorist groups. In the past, these groups were mainly confined to Kashmir but recent years have seen the emergence of al Qaeda (who are at home and protected in the lawless regions of north Pakistan) and also other terror groups. These other groups have been active in Russia (Chechnya) and in China.

All these groups are basically the same bunch, the mujahadeen.

This is why I think all this that’s going on at the moment is just talk. Pakistan knows it has only so much room in which to manouevre. They’ll exploit this room as much as they can but they won’t go nuclear. If they did, India would wipe them out on their own - Pakistan only has 5 or 6 nukes whereas India has loads.

There may be a small scale war but it will be limited in scale and conventional in weaponry.

Just my opinion, of course.

Oh and Iraq ain’t going nowhere.

They’ve got enough problems of their own at the moment (with America knocking on their door) without getting involved in some age-old conflict in the middle of Asia.

[Sofa King: I’m sorry but IMHO much of your your speculation goes beyond “worst-case scenario” and into “utter fantasy scenario”.

Okay. So far we are following the pattern of every other Indo-Pakistan War. I’m with you this far.

Throw substantive military support Pakistan’s way? Never. What conceivable reason would nations like Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, or the anyof the Arab League nations have for going to war with Pakistan? Religious solidarity? Not bloody likely. It would never happen.

Statements that condemn “Indian aggression” or calls for “international mediation” or motions for blah-blah-bliddy-blah, sure. That I can see. But not the other. Especially not in the face of western resistance - Too many Arab nations are deeply beholden to the U.S. and wouldn’t dare slip the leash. At any rate, the Arab League doesn’t even remotely resemble NATO - It’s not a real military alliance and the task of co-ordinating their disparate forces would be well beyond them.

What other modern air forces? The Gulf States? A handful of planes. Iraq? snort NO Iraqi plane would be tolerated in Saudi airspace. Not to mention any other. Again, the nations that can bring substantial force to bear are either U.S. allies or boxed in and hamstrung. Syria, for example, does not have force projection capabilities in the Gulf ( and could give a shit about Pakistan anyway ). And again, the Saudi military lacks the logistic capacity to manage multiple foreign air forces on their soil without substantial U.S. aid ( they’re also a phenomenally conservative nation politically, as in cautious, and are about as likely to engage India as Brunei would be ).

NEVER happen. Whose large body of troops is Saddam going to let march through his stressed country? Syria? Nuh-uh. SA? Never. Eqypt? Hell, no. And what local nation would weaken their defences when Saddam could use a quick territory grab to bolster his domestic security?

Even IF your scenario panned out, moving substantial numbers of troops through the Iraqi desert is not particularly practical, especially given…

This, too, would never happen. Iran is not about to let large Sunni Muslim Arab armies trek across their soil - Not Iraqi forces, not Saudi Arabian, not anybodies. Nor are they friends of Sunni Pakistan. They too, will issue anti-Indian condemnations. That’s about it. They have no logistic capacity to intervene that far afield themselves and even IF they were to allow potentially hostile and formerly enemy armies to transit their country ( never, ever ) - Crossing undeveloped desert eastern Iran and hilly, arid, undeveloped western Pakistan to reach, intact and combat ready, the zone of Indo-Pakistani conflict, is a logistical nightmare even the U.S. wouldn’t ( and probably couldn’t ) tackle

This, I agree, is possible.

Very unlikely and no significant threat anyway. The Chinese could not credibly sustain a large campaign across the Tibetan Plateaux for any length of time and they mostly took back the disputed MacMahon Line territories in '62 anyway. Mostly it would be bluff and maneouvre.

Possible, I suppose, but not likely. Given the forces arrayed, the terrain involved, and the lessons of past history I expect that the ability of either ( definitely not Pakistan, probably not India ) to win a decisive victory in any short campaign is low. Instead what we’ll more likely see, as we’ve seen before, is a gigantic slugging match, with much destruction, but little substantive movement. Only if the war ground on for many months or years would a breakthrough become more possible. And again, past history indicates that diplomatic pressure would quickly stop them, once “honor is satisfied”. Neither country has any illusions, I think, of ever being able to “conquer” the other.

This IS a possible and scary scenario, I agree.

I don’t see why. Paranoid the Chinese may be,but they don’t want a nuclear exchange either and they’re not that close of allies with Pakistan, anyway ( their alliance was mostly one of convenience ). But even if they did, they’d go nowhere attacking into the teeth of the Indian army.

Pre-suppooses Chinese entry and success and Arab participation. As I’ve outlined I think none of those are realistically possible, let alone likely.

The rest gets progressively even more unlikely.

Now what do I think is the worst-case scenario? Some touchy, hyper-nationalistic, ignorant yahoo of a general on either side sees a temporary battle reverse or some such and sets off, deliberately or accidentally, a limited nuclear exchange on the sub-continent. Which is pretty horrific enough, as far as I’m concerned. And just a little too possible for my comfort.

But a strike against Mecca? Fantasy, IMO.

As to the OP - Who’s likely to get drawn in? Militarily? Probably nobody. Maybe in a very, very limited way China - If things went nuclear, the U.S., perhaps ( though even then they might sit back if it truly were a “limited” exchange, so as not to expose themselves ). The threat to international forces in Afghanistan I adjudge as being quite low. India has no compelling interest in getting bogged down there. The odds of them doing something silly like forcing the Khyber Pass is pretty minimal, I think.

  • Tamerlane

The Americans and Russians jointly and privately inform both India and Pakistan that the first country to use a nuclear weapon in a conflict will receive a jointly-adminstered conventional – and, if necessary, indiscriminate – ass-whupin’ so severe that the country’s military and civil government will effectively cease to exist. Any of the leadership who somehow survive will be tried as war criminals.

Islamic fundamentalist terrorists are chump change compared to the specter of countries lobbing nuclear weapons about. The first country to try it will need to be made an object lesson.