Even as a full-fledged India-Pakistan war seems a few stages away - unless Pakistan retaliates, which it might be tempted to after India's surgical strikes - there is much that both nations will have to weigh in terms of the price that they will incur if there is an all-out war.
All sorts of calculations, both in terms of human lives and infrastructure, will have to be paramount for the decision makers. Sushant Sareen, strategic affairs analyst and Pakistan expert, says that the India-Pakistan trade is too marginal to bother about, but if this situation continues, the ramifications will have far-reaching effects on both the economies. "Even as an exact amount cannot be pegged in terms of Rupees, something as basic as a shell comes at a steep price," he points out.
As per estimates, the Kargil War cost India Rs 10,000 crore and in subsequent years the defence expenditure in the budgets was increased from Rs 39,897 crore in 1998/99 to Rs 47,071 crore during the year of the Kargil conflict - 1999-2000 - a jump of 18 per cent. Such increase in outlay would obviously translate into shifting allocations from other ministries and development programmes, which are cardinal for any developing nation, be it India or Pakistan.
"Then the next question is of a conventional war or a nuclear war, and its costs in terms of human lives, infrastructure, environment and rehabilitation… one cannot even arrive at a figure on this," says Sareen.
However, the bigger issue is who can take the hit better. "Which country has the buffer to withstand the economic aftermath of a war? The relative size of the economy will decide the preparedness to deal with the aftermath. Pakistan was just about stabilising economically, and would it want to get into an all-out war at this stage?" questions Sareen.
In a conventional war-like situation, even 50,000 shells and artillery cost the exchequer a lot of money. Imagine what a nuclear war would cost?