Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 12:25 GMT
India-Pakistan: Can war be averted?
Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air:

  56k modems

A regional summit of South Asian leaders has ended in Nepal, with no sign of any breakthrough in the tense military stand-off between India and Pakistan.

Although Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee shook hands with President Pervez Musharraf at the conference, they did not hold any face-to-face talks.

Relations between the two countries - which have fought three wars over Kashmir - have deteriorated following a 13 December suicide attack against the Indian parliament.

India blamed Kashmiri separatists and accused Pakistani military intelligence of masterminding the attack.

Pakistan is reported to have arrested more than 100 militants but India says the moves do not go far enough.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is currently visiting the region and is expected to urge India and Pakistan to pull back from the brink of war.

Should India be satisfied with Pakistan's actions so far? Should the international community intervene in the dispute? Can India and Pakistan avoid a descent into war?

We took your calls on this subject in Talking Point ON AIR, the BBC World Service and News Online phone-in programme which was presented by Robin Lustig. Our guest was the BBC's former Correspondent in Delhi, Andrew Whitehead. Use the form at the bottom of the page to add to the debate.

  • Your comments since the programme
  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments before the programme

    This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

    Kashmir is an integral part of India, and there are no two ways about it. If a referendum has to be held on the basis of religion, then all Indian Muslims should be allowed to vote.
    Arif Khan, Mumbai, India

    Even after half a century there is no solution to Kashmir dispute in sight that is acceptable to all. History has proved that the partition of the subcontinent on the basis of religion did not work. The subcontinent has wasted all its resources to salvage this dysfunctional partition on the basis of religion. If there is political will, first we need to undo this dysfunctional partition on the basis of religion and then think about a new political structure for the whole subcontinent, perhaps like European Union.
    Satya Mandal, USA

    Pakistan should cooperate to end terrorism in India in the same spirit as it did with USA.

    Zaman Mehdi, Pakistan
    India calls itself the biggest democracy, yet it declines to give the same democratic right to Kashmiris to choose their fate. India is a member of the UN, was the first party to go to UN over Kashmir, yet it declines to implement UN resolutions in Kashmir. Isn't there a paradox? Similarly, Pakistan should cooperate to end terrorism in India in the same spirit as it did with USA.
    Zaman Mehdi, Islamabad, Pakistan

    Both the Indian and Pakistani governments are responsible for this terrorist attack. If Pakistan's Government doesn't support terrorist then they should hand terrorists to Indian government. Pressure from Indian government is right, but they should not build up troops at the border. India should try to solve this problem in diplomatic way. War is not the solution and it won't make any difference. Terrorist attacks will continue even after war.
    Brave, UK

    The West are hypocrites. When WTC is attacked, you wage "war against terrorism". When our Parliament is bombed, you ask us to show restraint.
    Indira Chauhan, India

    I think Pakistan needs to understand that the Kashmiri king acceded to India in 1947, and in the same way they the other territories acceded to each country, so did Kashmir. It has been an integral part of India since then. Pakistan needs to deal with that - regardless of Kashmir being a Muslim majority - since the whole of India has more Muslims then Pakistan anyway and holds the second largest Muslim population of any other country after Indonesia. In that case, Pakistan might as well lay out the foolish claim that every square kilometre of India where there is a Muslim majority should belong to Pakistan. If the leaders of Pakistan cannot accept this reality, then India will have to use force and punish Pakistan.
    Shaukat Rahim, Istanbul, Turkey

    There are millions and millions of Muslims who live in Muslim-majority pockets all over India - I myself am part of one such enclave. And, we DO NOT want to cross over to Pakistan (or to be Pakistani agents here for that matter). Pakistan is no promised land to us. We have always been Indian. A few hotheads apart, most Kashimiris too would feel the same I am sure. I have been there and know what I am talking about
    Adnan Qamar, Pune, India

    A nation has the right to defend its sovereignty

    Roshan Chainani, Hong Kong
    India has been the target of numerous terrorist attacks for many decades. If the U.S is justified in immediately retaliating to "defend" it's soil and can declare "war" on terror, why is India not allowed to fight its own battles against terrorism? A nation has the right to defend its sovereignty, why is India denied this right? There is also great concern over nuclear war (and rightfully so) but many fail to realise that all governments know the risks of nuclear fallout and realistically would not actually use weapons of mass destruction. They are simply a deterrent. People tend to think that India is an unstable country yet fail to realise it is the world's largest democracy and is governed by an elected prime minister and parliament as opposed to an autocratic military dictator.
    Roshan Chainani, Hong Kong

    Pakistan's attitude has always been very anti-terrorist. A key member in America's anti-terror war, Pakistan has now frozen the bank accounts of the terror-suspected organizations within Pakistan and has also arrested more then one hundred people. Above all Pakistan has also offered India to share intelligence and other sources. Now the world knows where Pakistan stands - it is a nation against terrorists and stands for peace!
    Uzair Qadeer, Philadelphia, USA

    War should be averted, it is necessary and desire of the peoples of both India and Pakistan. But we should keep in mind that the attack on Indian Parliament by the terrorists, is an attack on our nation, our people and democracy. India has full right to hit the terrorist training camps operating inside Pakistan, as American did in Afghanistan. But India is showing passions and tolerance and now Pakistan too is taking positive steps by arresting terrorist. But it is not enough to avert war, Pakistan should do some more and take India in its confidence and give assurances that Pakistan will not be used as a base for terrorists.
    A.M.Pasha, Dubai

    They are still calling it the war against terror

    Sanjeev Khurana, Brisbane, Australia
    I am an ex- Indian Army doctor and saw active service in Kashmir from 1987-1990. It appears to me that the Western press has lost sight of the fact that as far as India is concerned it has practically been at war with the proxy forces of Pakistan for the last 15 years now (in Kashmir and Ladakh). What we are seeing now is hopefully the 'end game'. As far as restraint is concerned, don't forget that were it not for the recent aggressive posture on the Indian side, there would have been no admission on the Pakistani side that there are indeed terrorists operating from Pakistan who need to be arrested. And I don't believe I heard anybody use the word restraint in the aftermath of September 11 - they are still calling it the war against terror.
    Sanjeev Khurana, Brisbane, Australia

    Since 1947 both the India and Pakistan governments have been playing games of accusing the other of terrorism. Yes, terrorism exists in every corner of the world but to label it to any group without evidence is not justice.
    Mario D'Sa, Pakistan/Washington, DC

    We should give Kashmir political autonomy and let the people choose if they wish to remain under Indian federal sovereignty or Pakistan sovereignty. If this issue is not taken in hand and resolved it will be a thorn in the side of both countries for years to come.
    Alf Fazal, Birmingham, England

    May I offer a simple and rather practical suggestion to the Kashmir chaos and practically every other tribal discord on earth - that is to hold a plebiscite. This model allows the population to exercise the right of national self-determination via the ballot box. Here in Canada we also have separatist issues with Quebec. The Quebecois achieve political action through democracy not violence. This is an essential lesson to the whole world.
    Linda WS, Toronto, Canada

    Your comments during the programme

    The attack on the Indian Parliament was a deplorable act in all contexts of humanity but at the same time one must not forget to listen to the whispering voices of the people of Kashmir yearning to achieve their right of self-determination. The international community must act to establish peace and security in the region.
    Habib Hemani, San Francisco, USA

    India has to recognise the reality of Pakistan

    Saqib Hussain, UK
    Before we can begin to talk about peace in South Asia, India has to recognise the reality of Pakistan. Only then can we have peace in the region. People talk about a secular India, but may I remind the world that it is India that has a Hindu fundamentalist government, not Pakistan.
    Saqib Hussain, UK

    One possible solution is to give Kashmir political autonomy within India. Technically it would be within Indian federal sovereignty but local elections would mean that it was governed by Kashmiris.
    N. Reda, England

    I am puzzled as to why the Indian Government is totally unwilling to discuss the Kashmir issue with Pakistan. I feel that a referendum is the right thing to do. This conflict (not unlike the Palestine-Israel problem) is a ticking time bomb. My big concern is that a regional nuclear war in the Indian subcontinent is in the works unless the international community forces India into dialogue with Pakistan on this issue.
    Dr S. A. Sherif, Gainesville, Florida, USA

    India's position is very clear

    Arun Vasudevan Nair, India
    India's position is very clear. A war will not be averted at the cost of India suffering another few decades of terrorism. A war now might be the ONLY opportunity to denuclearise Pakistan and block the most likely conduit of nuclear weapons to terrorists forever.
    Arun Vasudevan Nair, India

    As a Taiwanese, I think I live under the same critical atmosphere as that found in India and Pakistan. I hope the leaders will calm down and work out a compromise for a peaceful future.
    Hsin-chi Huang, Taipei, Taiwan

    The December 13 attack was an insult to India's resolve as a nation. The country now has no choice but to act. If the world is serious about peace and containing terrorism, then further international pressure must be exerted on Pakistan to be accountable for its actions. If this is not done, war will only be postponed, not averted.
    Ramana, Sydney, Australia

    Neither country is blameless

    Candi Bain, London, UK
    I would like to see other countries going to the same lengths to help India and Pakistan resolve the Kashmir issue that have been made in the Middle East and Northern Ireland. Neither country is blameless, over the years they have both been aggrieved and both have done wrong but it's time to stop this sabre-rattling and move on.
    Candi Bain, London, UK

    War will only be avoided if both sides have realistic expectations. I find statements like "Pakistan must do more to fight terrorism before we can meet" just as counterproductive as the equivalent statement by the government of Israel to the Palestinians.
    William Spillman, Floyd, Virginia, USA

    We have spent 51 years trying to kill each other. Isn't it time to reflect on what both countries might have achieved if they had not been at each other's throats all those years?
    Aakn, London

    Your comments before we went ON AIR

    The time has come to emphasise not what divides India and Pakistan but what unites them

    Gaurav Gaiha, Chicago, Illinois, USA
    War must be avoided at all costs. The time has come to emphasise not what divides India and Pakistan but what unites them. The two nations have too common a heritage and culture to be unable to peacefully resolve their differences. The truth is that there will be no winner if Pakistan and India engage in war. For the two nations to prosper and attain their true stature in the world they must cooperate. The time is now.
    Gaurav Gaiha, Chicago, Illinois, USA

    Can the Western nations be trusted to be honest brokers of peace and not look at the current situation from a "strategic angle"? Just a few months back the West and especially the US was not willing to do business with the military dictator of Pakistan who had seized power after over-throwing the elected government of the country. Then came the September 11 attacks and today, the West seems unable to move without Musharraf on its side. Does reality and ideology change with time or was it all just a pretence?
    Anil Shukla, Allahabad, India

    Why not think about the poor people living on both sides of the border?

    Adi, London/Bombay
    I think India and Pakistan should think of their economies before going to war. Why not think about the poor people living on both sides of the border whether in India or Pakistan. They are the ones who stand to lose the most.
    Adi, London/Bombay

    I believe this is the first time that two nuclear-armed states have faced each other in open conflict. A very dangerous situation for the world indeed. Blair is anxious to broker a peace settlement yet he is head of a government that has armed both India and Pakistan and made them the military powers they are today.
    Sean Walsh, Bristol, UK

    All the people asking for a plebiscite in Kashmir are forgetting/neglecting one important point. India has a larger Muslim population than Pakistan and Kashmir combined. If Kashmir is divided from India, what will happen to the remaining large Muslim population? More riots, bloodshed and communal disorders?
    Rajaselvan Ganesan, Madras, USA/India

    How about letting the people of Kashmir decide their future in a referendum as a UN resolution recommended over 50 years ago?
    Andreas, Greece

    I see many of our friends are talking about India's tyranny in Kashmir and the UN resolution. Perhaps they need to know more about Kashmir. The three points of UN resolution was:- 1. Pakistan withdraws its entire army . 2. India maintains a minimum presence of troops in region. 3. The future of the region is to be decided as per the wishes of people. Now let us see who violated these resolutions.

    Pakistan as per first part of resolution (after which only the second part is applicable) never withdrew its army. Betraying Kashmiris they handed some part of it to China called "Aksai chin". Next it has changed the demographic structure of the part controlled by it by settling Punjabi ex military men. Can Pakistan take back land from China and withdraw troops? NO. So the resolutions are obsolete. India on its part all it could for for Kashmir. There is a democratically elected government and Kashmir is given more autonomy under Article 370. Another last point we must not forget is that Kashmir was not a part of Indian imperialistic design. It became part of India by choice, and is a symbol of India's secular and democratic values.
    Abhishek, India

    India's democratic patience has run out

    George Yin, Singapore
    War cannot be averted. India's democratic patience has run out. For over five decades Pakistan has tested this great nation by sponsoring terrorist acts in Kashmir. I don't see India doing anything but punishing the culprits. Go on India. Make a statement. Let the whole world know that India can act just as firmly as the situation demands and that its democratic ideals are no handicap to safeguard its sovereignty.
    George Yin, Singapore

    A sense of terror prevailed for a few days, now it seems to be calming down due to the mediation and timely intervention by Tony Blair. India needs to be bridled and harnessed or else it will suffer a terrible defeat for its aggressive attitude. Wherever negotiations play their part they must be exploited or there will be more wanton attacks. Mr Blair, please provide us with a buffer to avert war.
    Asim Chattha, Faisalabad, Pakistan

    Pakistan is going beyond what it should be doing to appease India. India has yet to provide any proof as to who conducted the 12/13 attacks. Pakistan is still complying due to international pressure. India needs to share its proof. It is evident to me that India must have no fool-proof evidence and is just playing on a bluff. We want to avoid war, war will result in nothing positive. We need to come to a diplomatic end. Pakistan waited before it reduced its Consulates sides, Pakistan said it wants to meet in Nepal, but India is saying no and is waiting for something. I hope India can make a positive move before things get too bad.
    Shaje Ganny, USA

    The people of India and Pakistan do not want war

    K Pulikeel, India/USA
    The people of India and Pakistan do not want war. If they are allowed to express their opinion freely they will say no to war. In spite of divisions, religious conversions and all internal fights that have taken place through centuries there is an invisible spiritual thread binding the people. A whisper from the Himalayas will echo from the waves from the Indian ocean. This is a country with a soul. It is Hindu, it is Islam, it is Christian. it is everything. Its history is more than 5000 years old. The events of the past 50 years from partition or of the past decade of misguided Kashmir movement cannot change the psyche of the masses. They were not party to those events.
    K Pulikeel, India/USA

    Let's be realistic. India and Pakistan are too far along in dispute to back off now. War is pretty much inevitable. However, I do think that nuclear devices will not be used. This is because of India adhering to the 'no first use' policy and Pakistan being incapable to deliver the warhead anyway, in the event they do receive help in building one.

    Even during their ground nuclear tests, the US government indicated that evidence showed weak testing performed by Pakistan, not to mention exhausting all materials and efforts they may have to continue in this field. The only way out for Pakistan is to hand over all the terrorists to India, just as the United States demanded from Afghanistan. Otherwise India should take the same action as the US did. India's conventional power is more than enough for Pakistan, let alone nuclear. I think Pakistan should give up their terrorist beliefs that are taught to every child from birth and stop propagating violence in Kashmir. Pakistan itself also belongs to India. Don't wake the sleeping Lion.
    Raj Singh, USA

    Pakistan must make peace by arresting all the terrorists, handing over occupied Kashmir to India, handing over Karachi to Mojahirs, handing over Bin Laden to USA, handing over Balichistan to Ahmediyas, handing over SW Pakistan to Pushtuns and paying reparations to India for the damage it caused to India by supporting terrorism for the last fifteen years.
    Sam Sharod, USA

    As a Kashmiri, I say let us choose who we want to be with. I think both Pakistan and India have to stop now. War would do us no good. There should be election for us to choose which party we want or if we'd rather be alone. First of all, all the thinking in both countries is wrong - we are neither a part of India nor Pakistan. We should be viewed as the free nation of Kashmir.
    MOE, USA

    How can two countries as poor as India and Pakistan spend the little money that they have on nuclear weapons? Nuclear War is mentioned on this talking point like it's an everyday occurrence. There will be no survivors. No more India, no more Pakistan, no more Kashmir, just an inhospitable wasteland condemned for ever. People may remember who started it but, sadly in the aftermath no-one will care.
    Rob, Australia

    The world community must come together and help resolve this problem once and for all by non-military means. Over 50 years of tensions has caused many problems, the death of 50,000+ people, tragic human rights violations by Indian forces as highlighted by Amnesty International and the growth of Islamic militantism in Pakistan. The UN simply has to impose it's age old resolution which called for the Kashmiri peoples right for self-determination, and make sure that these elections are not fixed. Once this is done the whole world can stop worrying about this issue.
    Nadeem Khan, UK

    Hold a plebiscite in Kashmir? Yes but not only in the part administered by India but also the part held by Pakistan. That is what the UN resolution says. Kashmir is neither belongs to India nor belongs to Pakistan, it belongs to Kashmiris - regardless of their religious belief. If Pakistan is true in her support of Kashmiris in their freedom fight, then it should declare the part it holds as an independent state and help it to obtain membership in the UN and support their fight to reunite with the rest.
    Abdul Rahman, Madras - India.

    How about rejoining India and Pakistan?

    Shambu Linga, India
    How about rejoining India and Pakistan? India is anyway a secular country with a high population of Muslims co-existing with Hindus and Christians. Being such a big country, adding Pakistan back would not affect the environment much and would be the most wonderful thing that could ever happen in history. I think this is the only bloodless solution that we can come up with!! It will greatly increase the power of the sub continent and reduce the tension. We have to be careful only of the Hindu-Muslim conflicts. Since Muslims will be closer to Hindus by number in the united land, we can have much more harmony in the country.
    Shambu Linga, India

    India and Pakistan can very easily sort out their differences if the Hindu Extremist Government in New Delhi is treated with the contempt it deserves by the world leaders and not accepted as a supposedly normal democracy. These people in New Delhi are the ones who are responsible for this crisis. Which actually seems to come about because America doesn't want to be friends with Delhi - REALLY!?
    Dr Z . Singh, London, UK

    Firstly, war should be avoided. Neither country can afford a war. The Indian government must present to the international community, including Pakistan, the evidence it has collected against the two groups involved in parliament house attack. It should also give President Musharraf (and Pakistan) the time to act on the evidence. Based on the actions of President Musharraf in the last few months (and even since the start of his presidency), I believe he is more inclined to help in resolving this issue. One must remember that resolving such issues takes time. Military action must be the last option for India. If (and only if) there is no response from Pakistan should India resort to using its military.
    Rajeev, India / USA

    It is almost impossible to satisfy India. Although Pakistan has gone too far in arresting the freedom fighters. The only way out to implement the UN resolutions regarding Kashmir before it is too late. Moreover, nobody has the right to call the people fighting for their right of self-determination-given by UN, as terrorists. It is the state of India that is sponsoring terrorism by not allowing the UN or a third party to intervene and doing massive human rights violations in Kashmir.
    Serkan, Istanbul,Turkey

    Why is everyone not remembering that Pakistan was the country that backed the Taleban for years. They brought the Taleban to our country and terrorism, why aren't the American war planes not targeting Islamabad and Pakistan's major cities, why should the Afghan children suffer, why should the widows of Afghans, our mothers and sisters die with cries of pain, why should our Afghans go hungry at night and suffer the bitter cold. Whom am I blaming all of this upon, Pakistan. I sympathize with the poor people of Pakistan, a poor man is in pain any part of the world, and it's the ISI and the Pakistani government that needs to be blamed. We Afghans have suffered too much at the hands of Pakistan, our business men built Pakistan, our war/suffering boosted the Pakistan economy, the weapons at which the Afghans were supposed to fight the Russians filled the Pakistani military.
    Yousaf , London, UK

    War can and should be averted

    Wasim, India/USA
    First things first. War can and should be averted. It is up to the Pakistani people to exercise their right to peace and to prosperity. War is not a solution for this problem. Kashmiri People will definitely want to stay with India, which is a secular democracy.
    Wasim, India/USA

    I would like my Indian counterparts to stop using religion, political system in Pakistan, the ISI, the so-called militant movement, etc., as excuses to blame Pakistan for the current crisis. The hands of the Indian government are not clean either. We all remember the massacre in Punjab, the current insurgent movement in Nagaland, the problems in Assam, the role of RAW, and not to mention the 50,000 civilians who have been killed in Kashmir. It is in the best interest of, both, Pakistan and India to remove all types of complexes from their minds and then sit down with each other to solve the Kashmir issue. History is witness that no one has successfully ruled a large population of people by force forever. The killings in Kashmir have to stop and a just and balanced solution must be agreed upon by the two countries.
    Masood Abdullah, USA

    In response to Masood Abdullah: Yes, there are problems in Assam and Nagaland. India is a behemoth of a country, and there are bound to be unruly elements in a mega-state like India. The problem in Punjab has been sorted out in a civilised, democratic way. It is true that there are a few fanatical elements in the country, but India remains a staunchly democratic, pluralistic and secular society. About the role of RAW - you only need to read the newspapers to find out who really is creating problems everywhere - RAW or ISI. Pakistani ISI agents are known to be harbouring terrorist elements in Kashmir, for aiding al-Qaeda militants in Afghanistan, and for propping up the extremist Taleban regime in the first place. Why, Jihad is even a compulsory course in the Pakistani army. Who, then, should be blamed for those 50,000 lives lost in Kashmir? The killings in Kashmir must stop - you are dead right there!
    Sanjoy Das, India

    War can be averted between India and Pakistan only if the world community realises that the 'freedom struggle' in Kashmir has a new terrorist face today. The majority (70%) of attacks in Kashmir are carried out not by ethnic Kashmiri separatist groups but Pan- Islamic groups who have proven links with the Al Qaida network and whose activities can only be described in one word- terrorist. The closure of these groups, operating mainly from Pakistani territory, is vital for any reduction in tensions between India and Pakistan. The closure of these groups can only be good for Pakistan-eager as it is to project a moderate and tolerant face to the world community.
    Alex , India

    One thing is clear- India has gone mad. Having suffered heavy losses at Kargil they are now boiling with rage and want to take revenge. But they have forgotten that if they attack Pakistan they will also be destroyed. They should think about this.
    Arifa Haq,Canada

    India has to show some satisfaction for the Pakistani action. The international community wants to ease the tensions but then again you need both hands to clap.
    Qasim, USA

    Both India's and Pakistan's claims that they "do not want war" seem rather dubious, given their actions. It reminds one of Jack Nicholson's line in "The Shining": "I'm not going to kill you, I'm just going to bash your brains in."
    Peter Vogel, USA

    I appreciate the desire of Tony Blair to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve their differences on the table instead of battle field. Poor people of both the countries should not suffer as the result of bloody wars between both the countries. India is the largest democracy in the world. India should give the Kashmiris the right of self determination. After all what is the mistake of those people living in both the parts of Kashmir. All the leaders of the advanced nations should ask both the leaders of India and Pakistan to forget about the past and should sit together and resolve the centuries old disputes. The people want peace and harmony to progress in the world. War is destruction of the civilization and it should be kept safe at all costs. I pray peace and tranquillity takes its place in our hearts and we all make this world a heaven on the earth.
    Fakkiah Irrum, Pakistan

    It has been proved time and again that Pakistan has been the hub of terrorists and that the Pakistani government has been sponsoring terrorism for more that two decades. It is high time the Pakistani people realize that nothing can be achieved by harbouring and sponsoring these terrorists who have no goal but to terrorise. They have been killing innocent Hindus and Muslims alike. Pakistani leaders have been taking the Pakistani people for a ride for a long time. They have been supporting these activities in order camouflage Pakistan's utter failure in social and economic fronts.
    Ramesh Bobbili, USA / India

    Kashmiris are fighting for freedom, simple as that

    Masood, UK
    India is blatantly trying to get political advantage out of the current anti-terrorist climate. Kashmiris are fighting for freedom, simple as that. Over 50,000 Kashmiris have been killed by the Indians. Countless have "disappeared". Human rights violations are the norm (just look at the evidence Amnesty International has on them). Why does India fear holding elections? Because it will not serve its purpose. Funny that, for a democratic country isn't it.
    Masood, UK

    From the comments here, I can see that Indians and Pakistanis both want a war. It looks like the mature way is to blame the other party and not look at us, right? It's pity that we are in a generation of communication and globalisation and we still has mistrust in humanity. In this situation both countries have done wrong, and we are trying to blame the other party for the cause of the current dangerous situation. Both are saying that we don't want war but we are going to build up the army at the border, stop the communication with the other, and hate the other but not go to war. I am a Pakistani and love my country, but that does not mean that I have to hate someone to prove my patriotism to my country. The solidarity of my country is to have a friendly neighbourhood. And we would never live in peace and harmony with the passage we are taking. For some reason I had a belief that people of both countries want peace and its the Army and Politics that is stopping us, but reading the comments here I have to change my stand on that. It's even sadder to see these kinds of comments from people who are living abroad and very frequently communicate from a person of the other country. I think we should stop living in past and mistrust and try to harmonize the societies and make peace with our neighbours and ourselves. Stop looking at evil before searching for GOOD.
    MA Shahzad, USA

    In response to the views of Arif Ahmed from Bangladesh, I would like to say that a nuclear war although improbable can not be the India's "complete responsibility" as it has a 'No first use' policy as far as the use of nuclear weapons is concerned. Therefore if there is at all a nuclear war, it is possible only after Pakistan decides to use these weapons first. To respond to Michelle from UK who believes that Pakistan has a democratic past, one only has to look at the number of years Pakistan has spent under military rule and the continuining pivotal role the military plays in Pakistan's politics, foreign affairs, even its economic decisions to know who really calls the shots there-military dictators or democratically elected political leaders.
    Vinay, India

    What is the UN doing to avert any clash across the border?

    Humaira Amjad, Saudi Arabia
    What is the UN doing to avert any clash across the border? As per previous UN resolutions they should intervene and hold a plebiscite under supervision of UN peace keeping forces.
    Humaira Amjad, Saudi Arabia

    After all that has happened, it seems rather unlikely that either countries are going to forget it in a hurry. But yes, war can still be averted if both the countries take a step towards diffusing the situation.
    Dev, India/London

    I hope war is avoided, but is there a chance that these militant groups, allegedly backed by Bin Laden, are creating a diversion on a different frontier so as he can escape Afghanistan? Are India and Pakistan being used as pawns in the larger game and war will be a good result for Bin Laden?
    Dave Francis, UK

    If India thinks that they are in a similar situation than the US because of the terror attacks, they are wrong. The US, unlike India, is not responsible for the massacre and displacement of thousands of Kashmiri people. I belong to that region and my family had to move out of there because of the atrocities committed by Indian forces. So Mr Gupta and Mr Gopal or whoever think that they have an opinion should keep it to themselves as they don't belong to Kashmir like I do, and Kashmir does not belong to them. And the thought that the Indians are going to cross the border and induce justice on whoever they like is more of a fantasy than a reality. India feels left out of this international coalition so these actions justify their feelings of neglect from international community.
    Malik, Kashmir/USA

    Learn to co-exist with and tolerate other religions

    Koushik, India/USA
    Those people who keep saying that India should allow Kashmir to separate because of its predominantly Muslim population should also start advocating for independent nation status for a lot of different parts of India like Old Delhi, Deccan in the South, Lucknow and so on. The point is, India is a secular country and has always been, so just learn to co-exist with and tolerate other religions. It is just like US or UK where most of these vehement advocates of Kashmir reside. So instead of making beyond reasonable demands just live and let live.

    When India was partitioned to create Pakistan a lot of Muslims who did not want to co-exist with non-Muslims moved to the newly created Pakistan and a lot of non-Muslims living in the land that was labelled Pakistan moved to India. So why did these Muslims who wanted a separate Islamic nation stay in India instead of moving into this great new Islamic nation of Pakistan. The assumption that most Indians made at the time of partition was that all Muslims that stayed are for India.
    Koushik, India/USA

    The over-simplistic argument that a plebiscite should be held in Kashmir is flawed on several counts. First, in the case that the Sunni Muslim majority were to decide to cede to Pakistan, what would happen to the minority Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and even Shia Muslims? Pakistan as an Islamic state whose official policy of intolerance of even Ahmediyas (leave aside Hindus or Sikhs) is well known, would be no place for these unfortunate minorities. The majority Sunni population occupies only a small 9% of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Why would India have to lose all the rest of the territory? Lastly, would Pakistan evacuate POK as a UN mandated plebiscite would warrant?
    Sanjoy Das, USA

    India is trying to put army pressure on Pakistan just like USA did on Afghanistan. Chances are slim that there will be any war. Because neither of the countries is clean. India is trying to escalate matter so they can get international sympathy and put international pressure on Pakistan. India has no evidence that there is Pakistan terrorist involvement. The bottom line is neither party is interested in resolving this matter now or in the years to come.
    Kamal Singh, USA

    The people fighting Indian tyranny are true freedom fighters

    Sharjil, UK
    It is incorrect to compare the suffering of the USA on 11th September with the so-called "suffering" of India at the hands of "terrorists" over the last few decades. Whatever grievances we may have against the USA, it hasn't been brutally occupying a defenseless nation, in clear violation of United Nations resolutions demanding a democratic referendum. The people fighting Indian tyranny are true freedom fighters, like the French and European resistance of World War II. Do not let the free world be tricked into thinking that any oppressive regime can now suppress any indigenous freedom movement under the false pretext of a "War on Terrorism".
    Sharjil, UK

    In Resonse to Sharjil: you said that people fighting in Kashmir are freedom fighters. India got freedom from Britain through non-voilence. Today in Kashmir fighters are killing minority Hindus and they are attacking government establishments, so fighters can never be identified as freedom fighters instead of millitants. Pakistan should stop supporting millitancy so there should not be any violence. Pakistan is responsible for killing of 50,000 innocents in Kashmir. If Pakistan did not stop supporting terrorists then we should use force to stop this barbaric act because Pakistan has taken freedom without any effort
    Murali Kulkarni, India

    One can avert the war for a short period but no one can restrain two nuclear powers in the long run. Some biggies like the UN and US have to come forward and intervene if they really want to stop this fight across the Indo-Pak border.
    Ajay Dogra, India/UK

    It is appalling to see the selfish interests that America has displayed and continues to do so. The pressure on both India and Pakistan from America is to protect its battle against Al Qaida and appease the Americans that their government is taking action. It doesn't have the interests of two countries in mind.
    Piyush, Germany

    I speak as someone of Indian origin (and who lost a relative in the '65 war) but I have to say that there is no justification for Indian occupation of Kashmir. The population is overwhelmingly Muslim and the state should have gone to Pakistan when the subcontinent was divided. Now the solution is obvious- both countries should pull out and a unified Kashmir given its independence as a neutral state. With its small population, spectacular scenery and freed from the squabbles of its neighbours on the plains, it could be a real success.
    P. Roy, UK (born Calcutta)

    Pakistan did have a history of democracy and election

    Michelle, UK
    Murali Gandluru I would like you to realise one fact - Pakistan did have a history of democracy and elections, and had some popular leaders. Military coups and suchlike have absolutely nothing to do with religion, as they happen all over the world for various different reasons. I do wish people would stop taking these opportunities to further attempt to make out Islam as some kind of evil religion. How can it be, when it is the single largest religion and fastest growing one in the world?
    Michelle, UK

    The ball is in the court of Pakistan. India is undoubtedly superior when it comes to the army. In its entire existence, Pakistan has remained a 'shadow' of India. doing whatever India does, but still remaining the 'darker' part of it. Pakistan has never developed an identity of its own. Pakistan suffered a defeat at the hands of India in Kargil and still they keep on supporting Islamic militants from Pakistan to go to India and carry out terrorist acts. It's about time they realize that in order to have peace in the region, they have to stop those anti-Indian activities.
    Jitendra Sikotra, Norway

    Certainly, war can be averted. Pakistanis have to act, and act fast. As it would benefit them more than any other country. If Musharraf really wants to cleanse Pakistan of extremism, here's his greatest opportunity.
    Pranav, India

    What is good for Kashmiris should be good for Pakistanis too. So let Pakistan get itself a democratic government, and then they can hope to talk to India about Kashmir. Gen. Musharraf's cronies talking about a plebiscite in Kashmir is the devil citing scripture. Hopefully the Pakistanis will take enough steps to convince the Indian government about their (still-to-happen) change of heart regarding terrorism; otherwise India has no other option but to go to war.
    Pavan, India

    It's time India stood up and said, enough's enough

    Rahul, England
    It's time India stood up and said, enough's enough. For years Pakistan has been funding terrorist groups in Kashmir and Afghanistan and the west turns a blind eye. The attack on the Indian parliament is the latest in a long line of attacks in India by Pakistani backed terror groups. Now who are the Americans to say to us show restraint?
    Rahul, England

    It would be ridiculous to divide land on earth based on what religion people follow. People have to develop tolerance , patience in living together and importantly nations have to honestly follow this principle.
    Krishnan, USA

    No country in the world is truly democratic, but if we assume that India is one, surely a referendum in the disputed regions, monitored by the UN would be the best solution? India seems unwilling to discuss the issue of Kashmir on any level, and instead is relying on its greater military strength to maintain its position.
    Amran Majid, UK

    I don't think that India wants war. What India wants is action from Pakistan in eliminating this terrorist element emanating from within its borders. It is so interesting to see Bush asking India to restrain itself when the US refused to do anything of the sort. Smacks of double standards?

    Also, as a side note I would like the world to realise 2 facts. You make your pick:

    1) India has been an officially secular democratic nation for almost all of its 54 years.

    2) Pakistan has been an officially "Islamic State" with no democratic traditions whatsoever. History is littered with coups/army interference and ISI sponsored terrorism.
    Murali Gandluru, USA

    It might be that war can be delayed, but not averted. When two sides in a conflict have completely different beliefs about what is right, and what their destinies, futures, are to be, eventually there is a conflagration. Islamic Pakistan against polytheistic India is an issue. Other elements of the conflict go back more thousands of years to the time of the Mahabharatta, the Indian epic concerning war.

    In human history delay, where there are such extreme differences of belief and ways of life has only led to worse consquences as to more powerful weapons and greater potential for mass destruction being acquired and developed under the guise of diplomacy. Eventually the tinder would ignite no matter what diplomatic steps are taken and holding the two combatants apart might take all the world's military resources and prove impractical.
    Robert Morpheal, Canada

    Where are the United Nations now? It appears that the West is happy for the two countries to go ahead and fight. So they can go in and help rebuild and gain financially. India and Pakistan should be ashamed of themselves for getting to a stage where they are on the brink of war. The only people to suffer will be innocent people from both sides. Both economies will suffer.

    The BJP seem to be hiding from the no vote of confidence and not resigning in July over corruption scandals, by trying to put the country to war hence diverting attention. I would like to see these politicians on the front line and then they might think twice about calling for war.

    For the sake of our nations Pakistan and India which took a lot of bloodshed and sweat to build. For the sake of humanity don't fight. It's good to TALK.
    Khalid Mahmood, England

    India is doing the perfect thing, by giving diplomatic time followed by action. No country in the world has the right to restrain India. The very heart of democracy has been attacked and this is absolutely intolerable. Kashmir "may" be the reason, but Afghans and Arabs are fighting the terrorism war. Every foreign muslim is claming himself as Kashmiri and using Pakistan's border to fight against India. This indicates Pakistan's direct involvement in allowing its country for war against India. No proof is required.

    Pakistan can easily avoid war, by putting an effective seal on its border and handing over all criminals of jehad movement to India or UN court. By not doing this, it is a partner to terrorism and initiator of war in Asia.
    Shashi Kumar, USA

    I think the world is duped by India of its perception and does not see the real India. It ignores the fact that it is an occupant in Kashmir. It has brutalised not only Kashmiris but the Sikhs, Muslims and Christians as well. It does not have cordial relations with even one of its neighbours, all have been brutalised by India at one time or the other. This is time that the world woke up to reality and pressurized to see reason and sanity.
    Ghazi Raja, US/ Pakistan

    I can't believe what's going on. It is quite ridiculous. All Pakistan has asked for is a little evidence that even remotely proves that the terrorists were from Pakistan. They have already done a lot by acting on these supposed culprits, and have made it clear that they are willing to help India in all this. The Indian government should be ashamed of what they are doing. Why can't they just try and get on with Pakistan? They always seem to be looking for trouble.

    This issue can be easily solved, and Pakistan is clearly trying to do so, but India is making it hard. After the events of September 11th, India was immediately trying to make Pakistan look like bad guys, even though it was obvious to the world that Pakistan was in a difficult predicament. Even against many of their people's wishes, they backed the UN in their fight against terrorism. Hopefully, the UN can return the favour, and help Pakistan out of this, while putting India firmly in its place.
    Shaun Makel, Miami, USA

    India is accusing the West (especially the USA) of double-standard towards the fight against terrorism. I think India is right. The fight, first, should be waged against double standard which is the root cause of terrorism in the World today.

    Interestingly, India itself is playing double standard by suppressing freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people, while it supported the freedom struggle of Bangladesh in 1971. The only solution to the problem I see is, India allowing the Kashmiri people independence respecting their freedom struggle, so should Pakistan do.

    Let there be an independent Kashmir, end of double-standard, and end of the endless conflicts between Pakistan and India.
    Tanbir, Canada

    Secular India has a larger Muslim population than Islamic Pakistan. India's Muslims may have genuine grievances but these are similar to those of any minority anywhere. At last India has democratic processes and laws to protect minorities. Many Indian political, academic and military leaders are Muslim (and Sikh and Christian and Jewish).

    Pakistan has no greater moral right to Kashmir than India. If Kashmir's accession to India under rules set by the departing British is open to debate, may I suggest that the accession of all territories to Pakistan should also be questioned ?
    Kamesh Chivukula, USA / India

    India is a multi-cultural country with people from various religious backgrounds with Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and they all together form backbone of Indian sovereignty.

    Any problem we have in Indian Kashmir is an internal matter of India which we MUST resolve. I am sure Pakistan will not like India's interference in its internal problems or start sending terrorists to its land and create atmosphere of fear and terrorism.
    Sanjay Sinha, UK

    I think that the war can be avoided between India and Pakistan. All that Pakistan needs to do is to close down terrorist camps based in Pakistan and POK regions and hand over the culprits who are responsible for the December 13 attack on the Indian parliament. India cannot be satisfied by what Pakistan has done so far.

    Well India has always voiced its stand about the fight against terrorism in several ways in the past at various levels say diplomatically, politically and even at various venues like the UN etc. But the world has always shown a deaf ear to all this and now it says the Indian government has to restrain itself.

    We have been restraining ourselves for more than three decades and I think that there is a limit to it. All that the world must do is ask Pakistan to stop harbouring terrorists and their groups and stop funding and supporting them in future.
    Chandra Sekhar, India/Germany

    No, now is the time for war not for talk. It is time to finally put Pakistan in its place.
    Sidharth Bhatia, USA

    Pakistan needs to do a lot more to avoid war. Unless Pakistan: 1) hands over the fanatical terrorists to India; 2) moves quickly to a system of democracy, India is left with little option but to punish the Pakistani military dictatorship, for aiding and abetting international terrorism.

    We must not forget that the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) was pivotal in the formation of the Taleban. India has recently handed over the evidence of Pakistan's complicity in the attacks on India's parliament to friendly countries (which include the UK, USA, and Russia).

    The ball now lies squarely in the court of the Pakistani military dictatorship to comply with India's demands.
    Rahul , UK / India

    Until the UN resolutions on Kashmir are implemented by India, and the US forces India to do so the region will never see peace. Both countries will spend resources on arms and not helping their own people. Just like the former USSR broke India must face the fact that it will not stay together if the people do not wish it to do so.
    Aftab, UK

    The west should stop having separate definitions for terrorism and its counter-measures for themselves and for rest of the world.

    The lives of people dying in other places due to terrorism are equally valuable as the victims of September 11 attacks.

    So, it is not right to befriend Pakistan for selfish motives. The American list of terrorist groups contains some that operate from Pakistan. The American act of being a friend of a country that harbours terrorism is an act of supporting terrorism itself.

    I think the west should first introspect and then decide if India needs to be tutored for restraint.
    Maneesh Soni, USA

    Whilst we all want to avert a war, it is being thrust upon India by the militants, the ISI and the Pakistan Government. India's domestic security is under threat and she must act to protect her citizens.
    Puneet Gupta, UK

    It's funny to see the politicians of two countries fighting like kids because one of them has become good friends with America. This reminds me of my primary school days. These two countries have so much to share and so little to dispute. I don't think there will be a full scale war. India knows that it's not strong enough to defeat Pakistan and same is true for Pakistan.
    Leo, USA

    I think India is using the Afghanistan situation as a decoy for its own gains. Why is the world not asking India to account for the 70,000 Kashmiris it has killed or are still missing in occupied India. Let the Kashmiri people decide our own future, then let the sub-continent start to deliver education, food, housing and employment to its people rather than built pointless military might. Will the killing of hundreds (on both sides) allow for peace and stability in the region - I think not.
    Khalid, Kashmir/UK

    The central problem of the conflict is Kashmir. If the current war tension abates this 54 year old problem will still be there and will inspire more tension and yet another war crisis in the future. The Indian and Pakistani governments will continue to commit too much of their limited resources on large military establishments at the expense of their many desparately poor peoples.

    India must honour the desire of the great majority of the Kashmiri people and allow a plebiscite to go forward in accordance with UN resolutions. It can reinforce its interests by insisting that Kashmir become an independent and neutral nation which would also serve as a buffer between itself and Pakistan.

    Sadly, the prospect of this happening soon is small given the preoccupation of those nations who might exert an influence on India and Pakistan. If the crisis becomes war and Pakistan is backed into a corner there is a real possibility of a nuclear conflagration. This would leave Pakistan destroyed and India devestated for many generations to come. Moreover, fallout from a concentrated nuclear exchange would have a terrible effect on countries living down wind of the war.

    The world's powers need to develop a great sense of urgency about this old dispute between these new nuclear powers or risk terrifying consequences in the very near future.
    Vinton E Heuck, Lancaster, Calif., USA

    No, war cannot be averted. No is its aversion desired. War will allow the air to be cleansed and will establish the basis for renewed relationships and better times.
    John Kimble, UK

    It is hard to see what action by Pakistan could appease India. They have been subjected to a very serious attack at the very core of their government. I try to imagine the effect that would have on our parliament in the UK.

    Furthermore, Pakistan and India have become rigidly fixed in an attitude of 'no compromise' with their long, desperate struggle over national boundaries, particularly in Kashmir.

    I can think of no major state that now has the moral authority to advise restraint from military action and to seek redress in a legal framework. All members of the coalition supporting the bombing of Afghanistan have forfeited any credible voice for such restraint.

    Nevertheless, I think India should provide evidence to Pakistan on the involvement of the groups it accuses of the attack. Pakistan should then close down those groups and put its leaders on trial. If Pakistan does not then take action India can then accuse them, rightly, of colluding with terrorism.

    If we are not all to become terrorists then every country should seek redress within an international, legal framework. Unfortunately the credibility of the World Court has been seriously undermined by the actions of the USA, the only state found guilty of international terrorism by that court.
    Robert Robertson, UK

    Had it not been for 11 September then this might have been avoided. India is able to demand the handover of terrorists due to the fact the US did exactly the same with Afghanistan. Therefore the US can't impose sanctions for India's tough stance.

    However, Pakistan can also take a tough stance because America depends on Pakistan for support in its war on terror. Therefore the US is in no position to pressurise these countries into diplomacy rather than military actions. While the US is powerless, both sides seem content to take advantage with a military solution. Therefore I think this will escalate.
    Iain Wood, UK

    It's best for India to settle this issue once and for all by crossing the LoC into Pakistan and to wipe out the terrorists.
    Shabbir Khan, India

    By attacking the seat of power of India, the terrorists are looking for a direct confrontation between India and Pakistan. The terrorists know that this will destabilise the whole region including Afghanistan. I think the two governments must work together this time and get rid of the so-called militants, who are clear sympathisers of Bin Laden.
    Abu, UK

    I think India is and has been looking for a conflict with Pakistan for some time now and the main reason is current Indian government's hatred for other religions (Muslims,Christians etc). To keep in power they will do anything to stay there.
    Nasir, United Kingdom

    The fact that the government of India wants a war for its own partisan benefits may or may not be true, but even from here in the USA, it is evident to us that the support for war comes from the grass-roots level... Please put yourselves in the shoes of the ordinary man in India and think if the option of allowing these groups to continue unabated is at all viable. Forget all the jingoism and concepts of electoral gains of the political leadership, the ground support for the war comes not because of Kashmir, but out of the need for self-defence. If you appreciate this, you can understand how serious the threat of war is.
    Samrat, India / USA

    I believe India is doing nothing but trying to divert the direction of the global force, unleashed recently against the Taleban regime in Afghanistan, towards Pakistan. Not accepting any third party mediation on Kashmir, a joint inquiry into the recent parlimentary attack and talks offer by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf should expose its design to the world community. India is trying to hide its own terrorism in Kashmir but portraying itself as a sufferer, like USA.
    Muhammad Shahbaz Ahmed, United Arab Emirates

    Both these nuclear rivals should sit and negotiate to end up this delayed issue of Kashmir. If Israel and Palestine can come to the table and talk, why can't we? Just imagine the scale of destruction both sides would bear if nuclear option is exercised, killing millions of people in the blink of an eye.
    Jawwad, Pakistan

    How come you never hear of any human rights abuses on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control - but always on the Indian side? It is a Muslim majority occupied state which should decide its own future - preferably with Pakistan, after all that it has done for the people of Kashmir. All I hope is that we go for war again and liberate Kashmir once and for all.
    Sajid, UK/Kashmiri

    India is playing a very dangerous game! If it descends to nuclear war (which is not at all impossible), then it's the Indian Government who will be COMPLETELY responsible for bringing that about (even if there is some shadowy connection between the ISI and the Parliament incident, a nuclear war certainly isn't worth it!!!) by its bullyish jingoistic militarist gestures and activities, for the death of TENS or perhaps HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE - a large proportion of which will be Indians themselves... No sane people can wish such a situation or able to forgive that.
    Arif Ahmed, Bangladesh

    Why don't President Bush, PM Tony Blair and other leaders of the Western World apply the same yardstick to the Government of Pakistan for their harbouring of terrorists as they did to the Taleban and al-Qaeda? Why is India being told to restrain themselves in their fight against terrorism? Apparently the West is only concerned as to how best their own selfish needs are served, especially financially.
    Edward S Lobo, Canada

    Ravi Sundar, Delhi, India
    "India's approach has been mature and balanced"
    Shaje Ganny, USA
    "Pakistan is complying to international pressure"
    Gregory Berglued, Marseilles, France
    "The Kashmiris are the third party in this conflict"
    Narendra Jamwal, USA
    "The situation in Kashmir has simmered for a long time"
    Asim Chatha, Pakistan
    "A good time for Mr Blair to intervene"
    Tarlok Sandhu, Perth, Australia
    "An act of terrorism took place"
    Yousaf Barikzai, UK
    "Why aren't American war planes targetting Islamabad?"
    See also:

    30 Dec 01 | South Asia
    India parties back tough stance
    Internet links:

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more Talking Point stories