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Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Published at 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK


World: South Asia

Analysis: India wary of Pakistan army

Events in Pakistan overshadowed Mr Vajpayee's swearing-in

By BBC News Online's Sanjoy Majumder

The overthrow of the Nawaz Sharif government in Pakistan has serious implications for neighbouring India.

Pakistan in crisis
Both countries are now declared nuclear powers and were involved in a recent military conflict in the disputed region of Kashmir.


India correspondent Daniel Lak: "Intense concern in India over the turn of events in Pakistan"
India is wary of the Pakistan army. It is also concerned about the influence of hardline Islamic elements within the military and their likely role in the new regime.

But India is also used to dealing with military rulers in Pakistan and some observers suggest that a stable administration could help ease tensions between the two countries.

Suspicion

The Pakistan army is viewed with suspicion in India. Many feel it is the army which was behind the confrontation over Kashmir earlier this year, when Pakistan-backed forces took up position in Indian-administered Kashmir.


[ image: An Indian soldier guards a bridge in Kashmir]
An Indian soldier guards a bridge in Kashmir
Some analysts also feel that General Pervez Musharraf did not approve of the peace moves initiated by Nawaz Sharif and Atal Behari Vajpayee, when the Indian prime minister made a historic bus journey to Lahore in February.

"He is the man who attacked us in Kargil. We should be much more alert about General Musharraf," said J N Dixit, a former foreign secretary and advisor to India's National Security Council.

Kuldip Nayar, a columnist and former diplomat, said Mr Sharif may have been punished for his conciliatory moves towards India.

Concern has also been raised in India about who will be in charge of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

"Prospects for peace are severely diminished now," said defence analyst Rahul Bedi.

Kashmir

Nowhere is the situation as grave as in the disputed region of Kashmir.


[ image: Security outside the Pakistan mission in Delhi]
Security outside the Pakistan mission in Delhi
Following the withdrawal of Pakistan-backed forces after the conflict in Kargil, Kashmiri militants have targeted Indian troops and security forces in a series of attacks.

India blames Pakistan for actively supporting the militants.

On Wednesday, one Kashmiri militant group welcomed the military action in Pakistan.

"It is good to see military rule in Pakistan but the step is delayed," a spokesman of the Hizbul Mujahideen said. "It should have come earlier at the time of the Kashmir war when Nawaz Sharif betrayed us."

Optimistic outlook

However, there are some observers who believe that a stable regime in Pakistan could actually do business with India.

There was even a hint of this in remarks by the Indian Prime Minister.

"We are willing to talk to any regime in Pakistan," Atal Behari Vajpayee told reporters soon after being sworn in.

"It is for Pakistan to create a climate for resumption of dialogue between the two countries," he said.

Military leaders have governed Pakistan for nearly half its 52-year history and successive Indian governments have had a working relationship with them.





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