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A washingtonpost.com article from: alvi_saima@yahoo.com
by alvi_saima
07 June 2002 19:28 UTC
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You have been sent this message from alvi_saima@yahoo.com as a courtesy of the 
Washington Post - http://www.washingtonpost.com 
 To view the entire article, go to 
 Addressing Kashmir
  THE ENVOYS OF the Bush administration seeking to defuse a dangerous 
confrontation between India and Pakistan this week appear focused on two 
immediate objectives: inducing Pakistan to take visible action to stop the 
infiltration of Islamic militants from its territory to Indian-controlled 
Kashmir; and persuading the Indian government then to forgo the military 
assault it is contemplating and reduce its massive mobilization along the 
border. Those must be the priorities for now, and it will take considerable 
energy and diplomatic skill to accomplish them. But the United States and other 
outside powers will find this crisis difficult to manage if they overlook the 
fact that underlying India's nominal casus belli -- terrorist attacks sponsored 
by Pakistan -- is a deeper substantive problem, concerning governance of 
Kashmir, that has been obscured and distorted by the vocabulary of 9/11.
  Kashmir is a majority Muslim territory that lies in both India and Pakistan; 
it was effectively partitioned when the two states came into being a 
half-century ago, and they immediately went to war over it. The root problem is 
that many of the Kashmiris in India continue to reject rule by New Delhi, and 
India has worsened the situation by suppressing democratic government in the 
region and responding with brutality to both armed and peaceful opposition 
movements. Pakistan, for its part, clings to an unrealistic and 
counterproductive dream of annexing the Indian-ruled territories. Eighteen 
months ago, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee began an admirable 
effort to address the conflict politically, declaring a unilateral cease-fire, 
proposing negotiations with Kashmiri separatist groups and agreeing to discuss 
the issue at a summit meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. The 
summit, however, did not go well, and the cease-fire failed. The Bush 
administration's subsequent definition of terrorism as a global evil seems to 
have encouraged Mr. Vajpayee to aspire to a goal that would have been out of 
reach before 9/11: forcing an end to Pakistan's support for the Kashmiri 
resistance without addressing the underlying political issues.
  The calculation is correct in one respect: The United States, which has long 
sought to stay out of the Kashmir dispute, now unavoidably has a compelling 
interest in ending the cross-border terrorism. Not only does it violate the 
principles President Bush has forcefully laid out, but there also is good 
reason to believe that some of the Kashmiri extremist groups are linked to al 
Qaeda. But, just as in Russian-ruled Chechnya or the Israeli-occupied West 
Bank, to accept that the central problem in Kashmir is terrorism is to allow 
the dominant power in a longstanding conflict to duck the need for a deeper 
political solution. Even as it presses Mr. Musharraf to break decisively with 
terrorists and their methods, the United States must work to bring Mr. Vajpayee 
back to the strategy of negotiating with Kashmiris about peaceful and 
democratic solutions. That is the only way to end the crises that have 
regularly brought South Asia to war, and now to the threat of nuclear 


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