It is said that those countries that take the interests of their enemies into account, develop faster. Often, that has not been the case, and countries have been fighting their enemies, trying to overwin them. Both countries would have war casualties and other losses.

There are many examples of this, such as in the turbulent Europe history, perhaps even up to the formation of the European Union; the countries fought big wars against each other, whether it was World War I or World War II, and Italy and Germany are not many hundred years old as countries. In the wars, one side won and the other side lost. But then these countries shifted their priorities from war to peace and united for mutual development. Other countries, too, have given up armed conflicts whether they have been domestic or regional.

The difference between traditional and non-traditional war is that in a traditional war, one country attacks another country. In a non-traditional war or conflict, one country does not directly attack its enemy but still inflicts damage on it. It can, for example, be through economic measures, or propaganda and accusations. It can also be through the support of opposition organizations within the country.

An example of this is that during the COVID pandemic, when the new coronavirus spread, some people in the West called it a conspiracy and accused China of attacking other countries, including such that one might not have wanted to affect. The economies in many countries were affected, but China’s economy grew more than before. China was accused of having created the virus in a lab, and its move was linked to a non-traditional threat. Yet, currently, contradicting the conspiracy theories, China itself is now still fighting the pandemic.

As the world is progressing and the frenzy of war is also decreasing because if a country invades another country, other countries will impose economic and other sanctions on the aggressor. Because of this fear, countries are afraid of being an aggressor, and good is that. Some large countries with strong economies do still attack smaller countries, and economic sanctions against them would not affect them much. Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine is one typical example of sanctions. USA’s military earlier attack on Iraq is another example, where sanctions on the attacker played a limited role.

Generally, though, economic sanctions have a significant effect on smaller countries. For twenty years, Pakistan and India have not fought a traditional war. They know that whoever attacks first will be subject to economic and other sanctions, as well as criticism from countries and activist groups.

Although India does not attack Pakistan directly, Pakistan has complained about non-traditional attacks or a lack of constructive cooperation. During this year’s monsoon season, overflow water from Indian rivers has affected Pakistan badly. The Pakistan Foreign Office has expressed concern over the release of water by India into the already flooded rivers of Pakistan, saying that the practice under these circumstances has been a “recurrent” problem.

Torrential monsoon rains have wreaked havoc in many parts of Pakistan with over 1,500 having perished, including children. Huge property damage has taken place, and an estimated 1.8 million houses have been washed away, close to one million livestock have been killed, and more. During a natural catastrophe, it has been claimed that India released huge quantities of water downstream, measured as 300,000 cusecs, into the already flooded rivers of Pakistan.

But here is a question. Pakistan recently celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Before this, we youth witnessed three devastating floods in Pakistan which came in 1992 and 2010, and now again in 2022. Yet, Pakistan has still not been able to save its people from the major flood disaster. We focus on India’s lack of cooperation, but at the same time, we could have done more to prevent the recurrence of floods ourselves. As of July 2019, the total number of large dams in India is over 5,000, and about 450 new, large dams are under construction in India. In terms of several dams, India ranks third after China and USA. Pakistan has just about 150 dams spread across all the provinces. Pakistan must give more focus to projects that have long-term and preventive effects, being a defense against India’s lack of cooperation during recurrent flood disasters in Pakistan.

Akhtar Khan

The writer is a journalist and social media activist based in Islamabad. He tweets @akhtarkhanviews