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Kashmir & Prospects of N-War in South Asia: The Contraditions of the Indian Position.......
by Saima Alvi
24 May 2002 12:28 UTC
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War clouds on the horizon (of South Asia)
By Ghayoor Ahmed

According to P.R. Chari, an Indian defence analyst, "India's strategy of 
putting pressure on Pakistan to end cross-border terrorism in Kashmir has 
clearly failed. India has made itself a hostage to fortune. It cannot de-
escalate its military build-up without completely losing face." 

The Indians claim that the United States had given them an assurance to 
address the question of terrorism in the occupied Kashmir once their 
mission in Afghanistan was over. It is hard to believe that the United 
States would have fallen victim to India's vociferous propaganda which 
portrays the freedom fighters in Kashmir as terrorists only to hoodwink the 
public opinion. 

By no stretch of the imagination, can the concept of terrorism be invoked 
by India against Kashmiris' struggle for self-determination, the legitimacy 
of which has been recognized by the United Nations. The state of Jammu and 
Kashmir is a disputed territory, as declared by the United Nations, which 
means that the inhabitants of that state, at present under the illegal 
occupation of India, are not Indian subjects by any definition. The 
Kashmiris are struggling for their legitimate cause and cannot be accused 
of undermining India's territorial integrity, as Kashmir is not a part of 
that territory. Thus, the concept of territorial integrity cannot be 
invoked by India in this case. 

Taking advantage of the international community's resolve to fight against 
international terrorism and to detract world's attention from its own state 
terrorism in the occupied Kashmir, India has, of late, raised the pitch of 
its propaganda against the freedom fighters in Jammu and Kashmir while 
unleashing a reign of terror against them. Since long, India has been 
accusing Pakistan of supporting cross-border infiltration into the occupied 
Kashmir. Time and again Pakistan has denied this allegation. The indigenous 
struggle of the Kashmiri people had neither been sponsored by Pakistan, nor 
had ever been supported by it materially. 

For more than a decade India has deployed more than 700,000 troops in the 
occupied Kashmir to suppress the on-going freedom struggle there. Following 
the December 13 attack on the Indian parliament by some unknown persons 
India also massed more than 500,000 troops on its side of the Line of 
Control and along its international border with Pakistan. According to 
India's own declaration, the area immediately behind the Indian side of the 
LoC has been heavily mined to a width of five kilometers. Under these 
circumstances, any large-scale infiltration into the occupied Kashmir is 
practically impossible. 

Indian prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, has recently admitted in the 
parliament that the cross-border terrorism has declined during the recent 
months. A senior intelligence officer in the occupied Kashmir has made a 
similar admission, although attributing this reduction to heavy snowfall in 
Kashmir. Paradoxically, however, the Indian ministry of external affairs' 
spokesperson Nirupama Rao said, last week, that the figures for 
infiltration of militants into the occupied Kashmir closely match those of 
previous years. Obviously, this assertion is only a figment of her 
imagination unless, of course, India has devised some method to keep an 
account of infiltrators into the occupied Kashmir. 

India seems poised to indulge in adventure against Pakistan, ostensibly, 
for its failure to stop the alleged cross-border "terrorism." CIA Director 
George Tenet has warned that the chances of Indo-Pak war are very high. 
Douglas Feith, the US defence department's policy chief, has given a 
similar warning. 

India's hostility towards Pakistan is not a new phenomenon. It has imposed 
three wars on Pakistan during the last fifty years or so. The reason for 
India's present belligerent attitude towards Pakistan is, however, 
explained by Sunil Khilani, a respected Indian historian, in these 
words: "Mr Vajpayee's Bharatya Janta Party has lost every state election in 
the past year. What better issue than Pakistan to restore its popularity?" 

According to P.R. Chari, an Indian defence analyst, "India's strategy of 
putting pressure on Pakistan to end cross-border terrorism in Kashmir has 
clearly failed. India has made itself a hostage to fortune. It cannot de-
escalate its military build-up without completely losing face." On the 
other hand, Ashok Mehta, a retired Indian general, has recently revealed 
that "Indian generals are telling the politicians that they cannot remain 
fully mobilized indefinitely." 

It seems that India, which is on the horns of a dilemma, is now looking for 
a face-saving device to end its existing predicament. No wonder, if it is 
contemplating a symbolic strike on Azad Kashmir so that it may be able to 
de-escalate its military deployment with some semblance of grace. However, 
India needed a solid pretext to embark upon its military adventure against 
Pakistan. Apparently, it wants to avail itself of its oft-repeated 
allegation of cross-border terrorism against Pakistan to salvage its 
position. If so, India owing to its shortsightedness will be treading on 
the path of destruction. 

Given India's superiority over Pakistan in conventional forces, the 
political and defence analysts are apprehending a nuclear war between India 
and Pakistan, with loss of life and property on a scale the world has never 
witnessed before. The United States, alarmed at the possibility of a 
devastating nuclear war, is doing its best to reduce tension between the 
two countries. Ms Christina Rocca, assistant secretary of state, recently 
visited India and Pakistan for this purpose. However, her mission did not 
succeed owing to India's usual obduracy. According to media reports, the 
deputy secretary of State, Richard Armitage, is also expected to visit the 
region very soon for the same purpose. 

It is, however, intriguing that the United States, being closely involved 
in efforts to reduce the danger of war between India and Pakistan, should 
have chosen this very crucial moment, to have joint military exercises with 
India in Agra. The US should have exercised extreme caution to establish 
its credentials as an impartial peace-broker. The US has also publicly 
endorsed the upcoming elections in the occupied Kashmir which, as in the 
past, are being opposed by the Kashmiris. Regrettably, such ill-conceived 
moves, on the part of the United States, may not only dilute its own 
leverage in Pakistan but may also create difficulties for President Pervez 
Musharraf in is fight against terrorism. 

It is time that Indian leaders gave serious thought to resolving the long-
standing Kashmir dispute by peaceful means rather than embarking upon an 
adventure against Pakistan. Posterity will never forgive them for their 
irresponsible and ruthless behaviour. 

Posted from DAWN INTERNET EDITION (dawn.com) for 22 May 2002  

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