- The Washington Times - Monday, July 1, 2002

KARACHI, Pakistan A lone campaigner who says he wants to "restore sanity" among political and military leaders beating war drums in South Asia believes that at least 2.8 million people would die in the first hours of an all-out nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan.
Ardeshir Cowasjee, a 73-year-old Pakistani businessman spending his own money in his campaign, is not reluctant to blast leaders of both nations for making irresponsible statements about using nuclear weapons.
"They are mad," he said in an interview, and pointed out that with most targets less than five minutes from their launch sites, there is no possibility of an early warning system. Both sides would probably unleash their entire nuclear arsenals within minutes of the first missile being launched, he said.
A self-written and well-researched pamphlet that Mr. Cowasjee has begun circulating quotes U.S. physicist David Albright as saying Pakistan has 30 to 50 nuclear weapons and India has 50 to 100. The nuclear weapons on the South Asian subcontinent are of the same destructive power as those used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki the equivalent of 10 to 15 kilotons of TNT.
Five cities on either side that would probably be targeted include Bangalore, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and New Delhi in India, as well as Faisalabad, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi in Pakistan. All 10 are high-density population centers. The total population within 3 miles of grounds zero is estimated at 14.63 million on the Indian side and 9.41 million on the Pakistani side.
His estimated figures for the deaths in the first hours of the strikes total 1.65 million on the Indian side and 1.17 million on the Pakistani side. Another 892,000 would probably be seriously injured on the Indian side, along with about 615,000 on the Pakistani side.
These would perish shortly after their injuries or from nuclear poisoning, but the fallout from the radioactive clouds created by the explosions would affect millions of others, and slow deaths from diseases such as cancer would continue for years.
Those who were vaporized in the first flashes would be the luckiest, he says. They wouldn't even know they had been hit.
Mr. Cowasjee does not believe American diplomacy has ended the threat of war. He argues that the spirit of adventurism among political leaders and generals on both sides is too high, and he suggests that India's recent decision to de-escalate the tension was not the result of U.S. diplomacy, but the weather.
"It's the monsoons," he said, referring to the season of heavy rains that begin in late June or early July and continue through to September on the subcontinent. Once the monsoons are over, tension could rise again.
In a separate interview, Pakistani military analyst Ikram Sehgal made light of India's announcement that it was withdrawing its warships from strategic positions in the Indian Ocean. "During the monsoons, the Indian Ocean is the worst place for the navy, so they have an interest in getting their navy back to base," he said.
As for allowing Pakistan to resume civilian flights over Indian territory, he said, the move primarily served to benefit Indian civil aviation. "For every two flights that Pakistan sends over India, India sends 30 flights over Pakistan," he said.
However, a high-ranking retired naval officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the monsoons did not necessarily rule out a conflict: "If they want war, they can start one. How can the monsoons stop them?"
Mr. Cowasjee also rejects the idea that the deployment of nuclear weapons will serve to deter a war on the subcontinent.


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