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    australian newspaper article....

    Time to turn away from the culprit in Kashmir
    The Australian
    June 25, 1999

    The West can no longer afford to be cold towards India

    By Greg Sheridan

    The most dangerous place in the world right now is not Kosovo or the Korean
    peninsula, or even East Timor. It is Kashmir, the majority Muslim State in the far
    north-west of India, on its border with Pakistan. It is the most dangerous nuclear
    flashpoint in the world, a regional conflict of immense importance to Australia and
    one in which we are making a singularly counterproductive contribution.

    Kashmir has been in dispute since 1948, when its ruling maharajah decided to join
    India instead of Pakistan after the State was invaded by Pakistani tribesmen. A UN
    resolution at the time called for a vote on which nation it should belong to.

    It was never possible to hold such a vote, though then, as now, probably a majority
    of Kashmiris would prefer independence. A line of control functions as a de facto
    international border, and has done for more than two decades.

    Pakistan has recently infiltrated hundreds of Muslim guerillas, veterans of war in
    Afghanistan, and apparently some Pakistani regular soldiers, into high mountainous
    positions such that it has taken over some hundreds of square kilometres of Indian

    New Delhi is, naturally, determined to push the Pakistanis out. The acute danger at
    the moment is that the most effective way to do this would be for India to bomb
    supply lines and artillery inside Pakistan. Instead India, at the cost of hundreds of its
    own soldiers dead, is pushing the Pakistanis back, inch by inch, without violating
    Pakistani air space.

    The incursion into Indian territory was certainly planned months in advance. Yet in
    February Pakistan's Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, was conducting high-profile
    face-to-face diplomacy with India's PM, Atal Behari Vajpayee, declaring a new era
    of peace.

    Only two conclusions are possible. Either Sharif was engaged in the most barefaced
    duplicity in his dealings with Vajpayee, or, more likely, the Pakistani military and its
    intelligence agency, the ISI, did not tell Sharif what they were doing.

    Pakistan is a broken-backed and nearly lawless State. It spends 22 per cent of its
    budget on defence, and 44 per cent on servicing debt. It is awash with corruption.
    The Sharif Government is increasingly repressive and looks to Islamisation as a
    political expedient. Its military, and the ISI, are a law unto themselves. The ISI
    created the fundamentalist Taliban movement that rules in Afghanistan.

    India, on the other hand, for all its problems and its frequently brutal misrule in
    Kashmir, is infinitely more democratic than Pakistan and did not act to disturb the
    status quo in Kashmir.

    Washington has traditionally been an ally of Pakistan and used it to destabilise
    Soviet rule in Afghanistan. But the Group of Seven leading industrialised nations
    recently condemned the activities of "foreign intruders" in Kashmir and Bill Clinton
    rang Sharif to tell him to pull back from Kashmir. This represents a significant
    turning away from Pakistan by Washington.

    Washington needs to make a big play in India. It is well past time that the world's
    two greatest democracies, India and the US, finally put aside their respective Cold
    War hang-ups and got together.

    Of course India's chaotic politics and ultra-loquacious diplomatic style make this
    hard work for Washington. But the Americans need to break through their
    Pakistan-induced fog with India. They need to treat India as an emerging great
    power and work to integrate it into the global system.

    It is difficult to fathom the timing of Islamabad's offensive in Kashmir. It has always
    tried to internationalise the Kashmir dispute, and more blood and death contribute
    to that. But why now? It can only be interpreted as an act by the ISI in a domestic
    power struggle.

    The only other longer-term rationale is a Pakistani hope that it could so destabilise
    India at a time of lame-duck government leading up to India's election in
    September, that it would seriously weaken, or possibly even permanently fragment,
    its giant neighbour.

    But this only shows the destructiveness of Pakistan's course. Every bit of progress
    in Kashmir is repeatedly destroyed by Pakistani support for terrorism. The West
    should abandon its perverse neutrality on this issue and fall in solidly behind India
    and the existing territorial boundaries.

    Australia, for its part, absurdly continues to apply sanctions against India for its
    nuclear tests last year. These include a ban on military contacts and a ban on any
    but humanitarian aid. Canberra continues to apply these sanctions when Washington
    has effectively signalled its acceptance of India's new status and is making progress
    towards a fundamental reassessment of India. This is a really stupid position by
    Canberra, ensuring that we have no influence at all with the second largest nation in
    the world (and one with whom we have a booming trade, heavily in our favour).

    The West collectively has made a mess of its policy towards India, partly because
    of a foolish Cold War bias to Pakistan. Both idealism - India is a democracy - and
    Realpolitik - India's size and importance - indicate it is time for a reassessment.

    Greg Sheridan is The Australian's foreign editor.

    autralia and india RULE!(india a bit more) actually a lot more...




      I think this kind of temporary bias for India is to make India US or international involvement in Kashmir more acceptable. This is only a part of the game. Once international powers get involved, who will benefit India or Pak is anybody's guess. Most likely outcome could be something in which they themselves get benefitted, e.g. permamant NATO foces in entire Kashmir including Pak controlled, though they dare not touch China controlled Kashmir, at least now.


        The question is if India should indeed try to go for a more global and powerful role or stay isolated. I would say staying isolated and taking care of one's own interests is enough for now. India does not have economic, military and technological muscle to take care when the plan messes up or it comes in conflict with any other major power, say west tries to use India as platform against China, should India take the risk? I guess not.

        A huge involvement and interest west is showing in south asia is not in india;s interest. It may not be in Pak's interest too. but we have to at least be able to guess the plan before responding.

        india's future ambitions should be realistic and should not be higher than its economic strength. Kargil adventure of Pak is a clear story how a country fails in its ambitions when economy does not support its aspirations of power.

        [This message has been edited by ZZ (edited July 24, 1999).]


          Good insight, ZZ.

          Fata Morgana