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Thursday, 27 July, 2000, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Can the arms race between India and Pakistan be stopped?
It is one year since the conflict in Kargil - described by some as the "fourth war'' between India and Pakistan. Delhi saw the outcome of the conflict as a decisive defeat for Islamabad.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Vineet Thapar, USA
The conflict is much deeper than Kashmir. Kashmir is just Pakistan's way of getting even with India for the creation of Bangladesh. The actual problem lies in Pakistan's lack of self-identity. In Pakistan their entire identity is defined vis-à-vis India, India-bashing and convincing themselves that they deserve the same importance and place in the geopolitical hierarchy. The solution lies not in Kashmir but the actual acceptance of reality on both sides.
The future of Kashmir will be as India decides. India does not have to accept external interference, Pakistani or UN. India is a sovereign country and Kashmir is an integral part of it.
India cannot be called a country. It is a collection of states and different religions and by not accepting the right of the people of Kashmir, Punjab, Tamils etc, it is forcing itself through self-destruction. Indian leaders cannot solve their problems, as they are so massive so they find escape by blaming everything on Pakistan. Pakistan knows that its security and prosperity lies in a stable India and it is a matter of common sense which Indian leaders are closing their eyes to.
If the developed nations are really concerned, they should announce a ban on arms sale to Third World countries.
There's a lot of mistrust between Hindus and Muslims in the subcontinent. They attribute every atrocity executed by an Hindu as Hinduism and by a Muslim as Islamism. Frankly, no religion is perfect. Lack of development as a whole is creating a big mess. If the subcontinent has to be improved there's only one solution - educate people and crack corruption.
Can someone please explain to us why these two countries can't ask the UN to resolve the Kasmir problem???
India should gladly give up Kashmir with a rider to kick all Muslims out of India.
This is a dream that will never come true.
The rivalry between the two nations speaks of their failure to reconcile with each other's identity. India has failed to recognise Pakistan as a democratic manifestation of the Indian Muslim's will. Pakistan has failed to accept India as the country from whose womb it emerged, and with which it will always have strong cultural and historic links. The solution then, should be an ideological reconciliation between the two states. Kashmir must be either made independent or her fate decided on the basis of a plebiscite. At the same time an All India Confederation of States should be created.
A rogue nation like Pakistan should be prevented from building up arms before it becomes another Iraq.
Sushrut Vaidya, USA
The problem of Kashmir has nothing to do with Kashmir. It is primarily Pakistan's search for an identity and India's anxiety to integrate its 130 million Muslims
It's very easy to sit in some other part of India, and say that Kashmiris should accept India as their "own" country, but if you were to experience what a Kashmiri Muslim goes through under Indian military rule, you would feel a little different.
Kashmir is integral part of India. India will never let any foreign country to occupy its land. Pakistan is a rogue state. I don't know why Muslims love terrorism. Can anyone name any Muslim country/ state, which is not involved in some kind of violence? No one can because there is none.
Neither Pakistan nor India is actually responsible for this sort of arms race. It is a simple secret that the developed countries wanted both India and Pakistan to become part of that immature Cold War. Thus the developed countries forced a situation in which the Indian and Pakistani natural rivalry could be exploited to the fullest extend. Now that the Cold War is over, the people who were the cause of all these things are making noise. Both India and Pakistan should understand this trap and start building their economy, and avoid such exploitation in future.
Aijaz Malik, Canada
Pakistan will clearly be doing itself no favours if it continues to pursue its policy of illegal expansionism. It can already stake a claim to semi-pariahship. India is happy to extend the hand of friendship to its North-western neighbour, the only prerequisite being a swift return to democratic norms with the resulting enhancement of regional stability.
I do not for see a downward trend in the weapon build-up between India and Pakistan.
Neither of the two nations actually wants to draw a line where it stops. Foreign intervention is based upon the foreign nation's policies, and at the moment it's pretty obvious that they don't care two hoots about the situation.
The only solution is to reunite India and Pakistan as it was on 13th August 1947. The two-nation theory based on Hindu-Muslim was and is absolutely bogus.
Some other things that should be taken into account.
Firstly, if India gives up its part of Kashmir, it will be strategically cut off in the region - it will be surrounded by "enemies" on all sides.
Secondly, how can Pakistan which has huge debts, justify the arms race? India has never attacked Pakistan?
Finally, how would Pakistan like it if Indian militants invaded Karachi????
I think if you see the animosity between the two countries in true perspective then there is hardly any issue except Kashmir, which is disputed and recognised by all international forums. Let us solve it and I think policy makers in both countries will have a much-weakened case for keeping large armies.
If the financial interest of arms sales persists, then there is no possibility of halting the arms race.
The real question is not can but rather "how" to stop the arms race between these two closely related countries. Neither nation, with their burgeoning populations and lumbering financial positions can afford the needless luxury of an unwanted arms race.
One should question what perpetuates the conflict. Is it merely history or the need to make Kashmir a part of either country? If the people had a decent lifestyle (food, education, job security), I wonder if this would ever be an issue?
The arms race between Pakistan and India can only be stopped if the core issue of Kashmir is solved in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir. The Indians should realize that if the "fire" in Kashmir continues to burn, it will spread across India and lead to a much broader disintegration of the country similar to that of their long-time friend, the former Soviet Union. The Indians have to get out of Kashmir and stop being the bully of the region.
Let the people of Kashmir decide what they want. The most unfortunate part is that neither the US nor UK is really interested in solving this matter. The second worst tragedy in this whole episode is that the media is onesided when it comes to atrocities against the Muslims.
Pakistan attacked India 3 times so it's India who has been victimised. We are just defending ourselves and Kashmir is legally ours.
Kashmir is the bone of contention between India and Pakistan. Unless the problem is solved according to the wishes of the people of Kashmir, the arms race in South Asia will accelerate. There is no doubt in my mind it could escalate to a nuclear war - a war no one can win.
The only solution to India and Pakistan tension is to give the Kashmiri people the right to choose their own government.
Hindu leaders of India have always believed in the philosophy of "Greater India" and to become a regional power. If it continues to do so by expanding its arsenal of both nuclear and conventional forces, it doesn't leave much choice for its neighbours but to follow suit and do the same.
The arms race between India and Pakistan can be stopped if there is a will to do so.
For the time being the issue of Kashmir should be kept aside and both the countries should focus on
working towards literacy , health services, employment and an overall economic development and once this
is achieved the other issues can be resolved amicably. An arms race is going to benefit none but the arms manufacturers.
Ganesh Sunararajan, Canada
Solution: I guess there is no point in looking for a solution here. Since India being the
democracy. It is in the well being of Kashmir that it stick with India and India for its
part should give greater autonomy and promote economic growth in this state.
India-Pakistan relations are at the worst
since their independence. It is mainly
due to big power politics and feeling of
insecurity. Both countries are fighting for their
belief, democracy for secularism for India and
Islam for Pakistan. In this tussle Kashmir is seen
as a prize for their struggle. Pakistan should realise
that it's religion based politics do not work and even
if it succeeds it only lead to self-destruction
(e.g. Bangladesh). A full-stop to violence is a pre-requisite
for any meaningful talks between India and Pakistan.
Burhan Arshad, Pakistan
Pakistan should stop calling the militants religious fighters, fighting for their Muslim brothers against Hindu rule, and thus justifying it's military support. India as promised, should allow Kashmir to decide it's future, but not before moving the displaced Kashmiri Hindu's back home. Let some sense prevail over religious hatred.
Pakistan can certainly not afford to get involved in an arms race with India, but it has a right to defend itself as it has done win the three past conflicts with India. The Pakistanis know this and it has only been a response to Indian actions such as when India first tested a nuclear device and ballistic missiles. Pakistan only tested its nuclear weapons after India had done so. Every country has a right to defend itself.
The arms race in the world was not started by either India or Pakistan. Also the arms race in south Asia is not because of India. All sane and peace loving people of this world should try to solve these problems instead of trying to find solutions to those problems which do not exist.
Until the status of Kashmir is finalised there can be no peace in the region, therefore arms build-up will continue. India has her head in the sand and thinks by ignoring Kashmir the problem will go away. There can be no solution unless both sides agree there is a problem (i.e. Kashmir) which India refuses to accept. Third party mediation is needed, once the Kashmir dispute is settled according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people, the arms race will go away too.
It's unnecessary to spend so much money by two countries which are poor. So the outside world should compare
the difference and never let an aggressor with military government
get the same respect as a democratic and secular country.
In response to John in the UK, it makes
little sense to have a referendum in
Kashmir when the politics of the state is
hi-jacked by militant groups. Also, both
sides of the Line of Control are heavily
manned by Indian and Pakistani troops.
Even if these troops were to leave, there
still remains the militants, most of whom
are Pakistani nationals trained in Afghanistan.
India is celebrating "Victory" day? The entire might of the Indian armed forces were unable to remove no more than 500 fighters. It was also left to Clinton to tighten the screw. Reports I have read on CNN reports thousands upon thousands of Indian soldiers met their maker as a result of this conflict, with a few brave men who were sold out by their political leaders. India should be mourning the dead soldiers and thinking of the families of these people rather than parading around pretending they won that particular tussle. The fact that 500 of our men with NO support from the rest of our armed forces took on India with such impunity should fill every Indian with terror. An all out conventional war may prove a different ballgame.
Shaun Mathew Zachariah, USA
The arms race will continue as long as Pakistan exists. The need to have economic, political, and military parity with India is so deeply rooted in the Pakistani psyche that the country's state mechanism has not functioned correctly since it came into existence. While India has grabbed the world's attention through its exploding information technology industry, Pakistan lives on alms.
All problems can be solved if India lets the issue of Kashmir go to the United Nations.
The issue of war between these two states depends solely on Kashmir. In a modern, democratic world of high technology and business, India cannot afford to oppress a whole people.
Until the power hungry military is curtailed in Pakistan, there is no way the two neighbouring countries can enjoy peace. All efforts by civilian governments are in vain every time the military returns (after short breaks). The Pakistan army has learned dirty tricks from politicians to fool the general public through various excuses in order to gain their favour. It is time for the Pakistani people to wake up and put these distracters in their proper place. Otherwise the army will only strengthen itself by taking big bites from the country's limited resources and the poor will only get poorer.
Give independence to Kashmir. Neither India nor Pakistan ha the right to control Kashmir.
Vineet Thapar, USA
India has much larger arena to look for besides Pakistan. At the same time, India should do the same to Pakistan what USA did to Russia. Pakistan cannot afford this arms race for long and will collapse on its own burden. Pakistan cannot afford to launch a nuclear attack on India. They know it very well that retaliation will be massive and those generals or mullahs will not be left to see the ruins.
Kashmir has long been a PROBLEM. I don't think it can be solved, Pakistan won't let it go, India won't it give up. When such a situation is reached, there is no solution. In simple words, these two countries will keep fighting.
Ahsan Z Ansari, USA
Until Pakistan stops acting as a sole saviour of the world Muslims in front of the outside world and it adopts India independent policies, this arms race will continue, and both countries will loose their vital resources.
Democracy in Pakistan has nothing to with the wishes of Kashmiri people, like me whose grandfather kept dreaming going back to his homeland where he was forced to leave by fanatic Indians in 1948. It is so simple to let Kashmiris decide their own future but then we all know what they want and India knows it well. India needs to leave Kashmir gracefully while it can or it will be forced to leave.
Anand D, India
I think when Kashmiri's are given the right of self-determination by India, only then would there be peace on the subcontinent. That will start an era of true progress for 1.4 billion people, many of whom don't even have basic utilities in life.
Both Pakistan and India are strong enough with their nuclear weapons to defend their portions of Kashmir, so I don't believe either of them will win the whole Kashmir. So fighting wars over Kashmir both countries would loose interns of lives, financially and economically. India has intentions to be a world power so it is developing weapons. But Pakistan can't just rest, because if India gets too strong then it won't be able to defend itself. So developing arms is important for Pakistan to some extent..
Firstly, it is necessary to restore democratic rule in Pakistan. Next, set up an international commission to work out a power sharing agreement over the future of Kashmir. Let the people of Kashmir vote for their chosen representatives (like the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland) and then India and Pakistan can live peacefully as neighbours and address their real economic and social needs.
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