A nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India would quickly turn into a "nuclear Armageddon" affecting the whole world, Sardar Masood Khan, president of the Pakistani-administered jurisdiction of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has warned.
"If there was a nuclear conflict between the two countries, 20 million people would die immediately," Khan said, speaking at a conference organised by the Centre for Islam and Global Affairs in Istanbul, Turkey, with his remarks cited by the Anadolu Agency.
Among the three wars India and Pakistan have fought, between 1948 and 1971, two of them were over the Kashmir region, with low-intensity conflict raging inside the divided Kashmir region for decades, claiming thousands of lives and occasionally spilling out into broader tensions.
"The conflict in Kashmir is not only related to politics, economy and geopolitics, but it is also a human tragedy," Khan noted, adding that India and Pakistan might turn to the United Nations and neighbouring powers in a search for ways to resolve the problem.
Earlier this week, a Pakistani Armed Forces spokesman urged New Delhi not to "test" Pakistan's "resolve," saying that nuclear weapons were "a weapon of deterrence that should not be mentioned lightly."
According to a recent estimate by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Pakistan and India have a total of between 140-150 and 130-140 nuclear weapons, respectively. Both sides also have access to air-launched, land-based and sea-based nuclear delivery systems.
'World nuclear forces: reductions remain slow as modernization continues'. Global stockpiles:— SIPRI (@SIPRIorg) 19 июня 2018 г.
New data and analysis in #SIPRIYearbook 2018, out now: https://t.co/mXkzspTZJW pic.twitter.com/GLYzUKsRma
Tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours escalated in mid-February, when al-Qaeda* affiliated terrorists believed to be operating from the Pakistani side of the border in Kashmir attacked an Indian security convoy in Pulwama, killing 40 personnel. India retaliated by launching airstrikes inside Pakistan in late February, with these resulting in a series of clashes along the Line of Control border area which have continued to this day.
*A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.