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Mistrust & confusion turn Kashmir's dispute into crisis [The Guardian]
by Saima Alvi
01 June 2002 15:32 UTC
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Luke Harding in Srinagar and Jason Burke report on how
mistrust and confusion have turned Kashmir's bitter
border dispute into a crisis that threatens


- Much of the confusion has been sown by the man who
would have to order the start of the war. Atal Bihari
Vajpayee, India's 75-year-old Prime Minister, has been
giving out conflicting signals. 

-But Vajpayee and the hardline Hindu Bharatiya Janata
Party that he leads are under intense domestic
pressure. Now heading a fractious coalition
government, the party is in deep electoral trouble. It
has lost control of several key states and is heading
for defeat in India's next general election in 2004.
Over the past three months it has been criticised for
its complicity in the massacre of more than 2,000
Muslims in the western state of Gujarat. The prospect
of a war with Pakistan has banished Gujarat from the
front pages. A swift punitive military raid against
Pakistan might also re-enthuse disenchanted Hindu

-Since late last year India has been acutely jealous
of Pakistan's starring part in the war on terrorism
and has felt that its own strategic role as America's
key ally in the region has been usurped. Suddenly New
Delhi is the centre of attention again....'Just being
courted by Bush and the big boys could be enough to
soothe Indian egos. At the end of the day that is what
a lot of this is about: egos and men with nuclear
weapons,' said one Western diplomat. 

-The problem Vajpayee faces is how to respond to
another militant attack. Failure to declare war would
appear an act of weakness, domestically and
internationally. It is this scenario - and the
prospect of the war 'going nuclear' - that most alarms

Full article 


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