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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK


World: South Asia

Indian unease over military rule

Military vehicle in Kashmir: The army went on alert after the coup

By Daniel Lak in Delhi

It is clear the declaration of a state of emergency in Pakistan has caused some unease in Delhi.

Pakistan in crisis
For two days, ministers and officials had been sticking to a formula of cautious comment, avoiding strong words - but that was when there was a prospect of an early return to civilian rule.

Now that the army is consolidating its control under the man who India believes masterminded the infiltration of Pakistan-backed forces into Indian-administered Kashmir this year, there is less reluctance to express an opinion on the direction of events across the border.

The External Affairs Ministry spokesman described the situation in Pakistan as "effectively martial law" and said India would continue to watch the situation closely.

Peace talks affected

He said India had some concerns about the way that things were moving.

He said it wasn't clear when the two sides could resume peace talks, interrupted earlier this year by heavy fighting in the mountainous region of Kashmir.

Whether this means that India is now prepared to line up with other countries in condemning the military takeover isn't yet clear.

Hostility to India

There is still a feeling among some veteran observers of India-Pakistan relations that it may be more realistic dealing with an overt military regime rather than an elected government that has to follow the army's lead on contentious matters like Kashmir.

Newspaper profiles of General Musharraf - obviously drawn up with input from the Indian intelligence agencies - suggest that while, on the one hand, he has no sympathy for hardline Islamic thinking, on the other he is intensely hostile to India.

This analysis suggests that, as one of the rare generals born in India before partition, he has to be more hostile than those native to what is now Pakistan.

Whatever the truth of such observations, it is clear that Indian forces will remain on high alert for some time - up to and including whatever nuclear defences the country has.



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