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Pentagon worries Pakistan will resume hostilities with India.

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    Pentagon worries Pakistan will resume hostilities with India.

    Pentagon worries Pakistan will resume hostilities with India.
    WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (AFP) - The longer the military remains in control in Islamabad, the greater the likelihood that political pressures will drive Pakistani military leaders to resume hostilities with India over Kashmir, a senior US military officer said Friday.
    But Washington has little leverage over coup leader General Pervez Musharraf, who, while considered "very pro-western" is one of few Pakistani armed forces chiefs not trained or educated in the United States, the officer said.

    "About all we can do is push wherever we can to get back to a civilian-controlled government, to allow the elections to take place and to move on," said the officer, who spoke to reporters on condition that his name not be used.

    Washington has moved gingerly since the coup in attempting to defuse the situation in Pakistan, which last year tested nuclear weapons for the first time, in a duel with its long-time rival India.

    The administration has refrained from expressions of outright condemnation of the coup, and initially refused even to acknowlege that the military had taken over.

    Musharraf is scheduled to visit the headquarters of the US Central Command in Tampa in November, and that invitation still has not been withdrawn.

    A precedent may have been set however, when Indonesia's General Wiranto's invitation was pulled after military-backed militias went on the rampage in East Timor.

    "I think we'll let this play out for a couple of days," the officer said.

    The military official said Washington had expected the general to put a civilian in charge and call new elections to replace Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted Tuesday in a coup after trying to fire Musharraf.

    But Musharraf dashed those hopes Thursday, putting himself in charge after declaring a state of emergency and suspending the constitution and the parliament.

    "Everything we see at this point is that he's firmly in charge," the officer said.

    The officer said the Pentagon is not concerned about control over Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

    Military leaders in Pakistan "for a long period have had control of the nuclear weapons there. We feel confident they are still in charge of that, and that's not an issue for us," the officer said.

    But the Pentagon worries about whether Musharraf will resist political pressure to resume Pakistan's fight with India over Kashmir, the source of three wars between the two countries in the past half century.

    "I think that's something we have to be concerned about," the officer said. "Again the longer that he's in charge, the more the political pressure could be on him to move back in that direction. But it's awfully hard for us to project where he will go from there."

    Musharraf is reported to have been angered last July when Sharif bowed to US pressure and withdrew military-backed Muslim guerrillas from the Indian side of divided Kashmir, ending a bloody 10-week conflict in the Himalayas.

    Musharraf and the group around him are competent, the official said, but he questioned their ability to deal with the country's economic problems.

    "I think we probably have to be realistic," the officer said. "The military has played a big role in Pakistan for a number of years. They are a professional organization. I think for all the right reasons they care a lot about the country."

    "However, the fact remains if they are going to be viewed as a democracy, they have got to allow the democratic processes to work, and that doesn't mean they're going to hold a coup every time they don't agree with the president, or the prime minister in this case," he said.


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