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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Kashmir: Has war been averted?
Tension between India and Pakistan over Kashmir appears to be easing.
The Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, said in a newspaper interview that the threat of war is now minimal.
And India is said to be considering conciliatory measures towards Pakistan, after Pakistani assurances that it will clamp down on cross-border infiltrators.
However, shelling across the disputed border in Kashmir has continued.
And with hundreds of thousands of troops massed in the region, the situation between the two nuclear powers remains volatile.
The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has arrived in Delhi to begin a two-day diplomatic mission to the region.
Has the threat of war receded? Are you or people you know thinking of leaving the region? What would be the consequences of a nuclear confrontation?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Yes, I think the tension is easing. Now would be a good time for Indians to realise that India is not a rising super power, as most Indians would like to believe. A large number of the people in India are living below the poverty line and perhaps its high time their government spent more money looking after the welfare of its citizens.
I may fear nuclear war between India and Pakistan; but what it truly frightening is that a seeming majority of Indians and Pakistanis don't seem to share that fear. Patriotism on both sides recalls public sentiment in Europe just prior to the First World War. Both sides were eager to declare their dominance, both predicted the war would be over "by Christmas" 1914, and both, incidentally, were arguing about effective control of territory that didn't belong to them.
It is time the UN became the force it needs to be to make ANY country in the world think twice before attacking others or causing its people to suffer. The consequence of such aggressive action should be the immediate invasion of that country and the removal of that country's current regime replaced by a UN interim government. From then on the priority would be provide that country with the tools (education, health care, funding etc) to ensure that the country is free, fair, respects human rights and is tolerant of others. Whether the UN has what it takes to do the 'bad guy' role before 'killing them with kindness' is doubtful but it would certainly ease some of the worlds suffering populations.
Guru S., USA
Yes, I think war has been averted, but as always the root cause, the status of Kashmir, still festers. There are only so many times that the threat of war can be avoided.
The recent visits by Armitage and Rumsfeld to broker a de-escalation of tension between India and Pakistan are misleading. The threat of war has not receded. The Indian Army is so roused up; its morale at an all-time high, and its formations in an attack position. It would be very difficult to extricate itself from the current impasse. Within the next 2 months there are several windows of opportunity for attacking the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan. It will all depend on the weather, opportunity and political willpower. If any of the two sides resorts to nukes first, it would be Pakistan. It is this Pakistani irrationality that India has factored into its calculations if it decides to declare war. The consequences would be horrendous for both. I think its high time the UN initiates a permanent session on resolving this crisis and start a multilateral agreement to abolish nukes from the world.
Let us not forget that India's two famous Prime Ministers, Jawaharla Nehru and Indira Gandhi, were full-blooded Kashmiris. They seem to have been quite content with Kashmir being a part of India!!!
Whilst the Kashmir problem is unresolved and terrorists can operate there freely, the risk of war will remain.
I don't believe that the two countries will go to war. They are both aware of the devastation nuclear weapons will cause and will do everything in their power not to use them. However, a conventional skirmish, like the one in 1998 in Kargil, is not out of the question. They will exchange a bit of fire across their borders and then go home at the end of the day. One must remember that the most important outcome that both countries want is saving face. One does not want to seem weaker when compared to the other.
Aasim, Islamabad, Pakistan
Many people are talking about giving the Kashmiris a voice. India is supposed to hold an election there later this year but with terrorists coming into their country that seems a little difficult. And I find Pakistanis who claim that India has quelled the Kashmiri spirit to be amazingly hypocritical. Pakistan occupied Kashmir has an unlimited supply of training camps. Where are terrorists being trained in Indian Kashmir? A nation has every right to defend itself. India is looked upon as a villain even when they try to give Kashmiris a voice. I'd like Pakistan to show me how much representative power an average POK citizen has!
This is more than certain that there will be no war, at least in the way we think a war happens. But at the same time, the war really has been going on for over a decade. More soldiers and civilians have died in last ten years than the war in 1971. I guess the daily shelling and firings at each other does vent off some of the fury both parties have. However, terrorism is the real and present danger. Pakistan's leadership is handicapped, as far as its cracking down on terrorism is concerned, because that will be a hugely unpopular act. President Musharraf has already sacrificed much to save Pakistan's face, he cannot let go of Kashmir as well. This might spell his political doom.
I see it from a different angle to the present war like situation between India and Pakistan. The Americans have an agenda for having their presence in this part of the world. The reason is not yet clear why. They need a strong ally which they find in Musharraf. In a true democratic set up Musharraf has no place in Pakistan. The recent referendum has revealed the true state of affairs regarding the popularity of the military dictators. Hence the Americans have asked the Indian government to put pressure on the Pakistan boundaries so that the attention of the common people both in Pakistan and India be distracted from the real domestic problems. I don't see Musharraf and Vajpayee fighting for anything. In fact they are working hand in hand for advancing the interests of the present US set up. Just recall the world how it was a month before when Bush took over.
My relatives, who live in target cities, do not fear this war threat. Maybe they knew that this kind of Indian war threat can only make the world understand and accept the reality of terrorism being bred and exported from across the border.
Unni Krishnan, Melbourne, Australia
India does this militant drama every year to get media attention and sympathies from all over the world.
I think its time for India to re-evaluate its strategy for fighting terrorism. India should realize that they are dealing with guerrillas and the usual rules of engagement don't apply to them. I came across a figure of about $150m that India spends on counter terrorism but where is all that money is going? I think they should conduct more overt operations and come prepared with more evidence to show the rest of the world what exactly is going on...
I think that everyone has to go back in history to find who's right and who's wrong. All the people who say Kashmir should go to Pakistan because there is a Muslim majority there, I say: India has more Muslims than Pakistan and all those Muslims have more rights than Muslims in Pakistan. Pakistan should also know that a regional superpower like India will never give up, they have most of Kashmir already. Taking it back and occupying it would be like the situation in Israel.
The real solution is implementation of the UN resolution calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir.
Kunal, India / USA
From the talk of Pakistani people here, it is clear that they are not interested in welfare of Pakistan or anything else but want to give this issue international fame. And as far as India is concerned we are restraining ourselves. The best way for Pakistan is to stop terrorism. We will surely respond to their positive steps.
Hypocrisy is everywhere. The bottom line is: US, UK, China and Russia all want a war between India and Pakistan. At the same time they also want the credit for advocating peace.
I don't understand why the foolish Pakistanis don't get this?
This conflict is like two bald men fighting over a hairbrush.
Pakistan should be forced by the international community to halt all terrorist activities, including support to either Al-Qaeda or Kashmiri terrorists. All Indians ask of Pakistanis is to be left alone. All I ask of Musharraf is stop the infiltration, agree to peace, and look inwards to correct his own rotten systems.
Imran from India: you say India is the best place for Muslims to live, and there is no problem towards Muslim in India. Didn't you hear about Gujarat where hundreds of Muslims were killed, woman raped, burned alive?
If India were to try to attack Pakistan, they would be wiped off the face of this Earth.
No army has ever been able to win in a guerilla warfare. Kashmir never ever belonged to India, so to keep on claiming to be an integral part of India is wishful thinking. The $500b spent on Kashmir since 1947 could have been better spent on clean drinking water
Imran Lakhwera, Chicago, US
I think a viable solution to this deadlock is both countries accepting the LoC as the international border. Kashmiris who prefer to join Pakistan should move over to the Pakistan side of Kashmir while those who prefer to be called Indian citizens should move to India. And those Kashmiris who want to be independent can join India too since India is a secular country with freedom of speech and religion!
I have seen two Indo-Pak wars in 1965 and 1971 and still the pain is there. The war is so ugly and destructive that it spares nothing, the people, cities, economy, basic human values and just everything it destroys. I still fail to understand why the nations go to war and what they gain out of it? I belong to Khemkaran the border town of Indian Punjab, and I shiver at the thought of the war.
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