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Time ripe for peace between India and Pakistan

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    Time ripe for peace between India and Pakistan

    Dr Mubashir Hasan, a former hawk turned peace activist who served as federal finance minister in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s cabinet more than twenty years ago. A leading exponent of people-to-people dialogue and Track II diplomacy for several years now, Dr Hasan is a member of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy’s National Council.

    ‘’The process of rapprochement between India and Pakistan is unstoppable,’’ he told IPS. ‘’The pace can vary.’’

    ‘’Pakistanis must understand that the extraordinary step taken by the Indian prime minister last February (coming to Lahore by bus across the Wagah border), was not the action merely of the BJP but of a whole gamut of Indian political opinion. Since that step was taken in the interest of India, there is no reason to imagine that the compulsions which made it take that step have in any way reduced.’’

    Dr Hasan believes that the Kargil episode has, in fact, made it all the more imperative for India to ‘’act with greater vigour than before and for Pakistan to respond with greater fervour than before.’’

    Given the Western, particularly US, disapproval of the situation in Pakistan, his advice to India is to ‘’avail the opportunity and assure Pakistan that India stands for real peace in the region and would not like to support the USA in arm-twisting Pakistan.’’

    Time is ripe. This is the best time to make peace between India and Pakistan. All Indians and Pakistanis should come together and discuss the peace process. Internet is a very good medium.

    A Well-known security expert, presented paper on the Kashmir problem in Karachi. The expert, a former Pakistani envoy, was of the opinion that the country had paid a heavy price by insisting on a "forced solution" to the question. "We need to look for new ways to solve this problem. "The methods that we have employed during the last fifty years have simply not worked. That's why I think we need to look for new ways." The two individuals were speaking as delegates at a seminar, which was titled "Security in Europe and South Asia: Challenges and Options for the Twenty-first Century" and was organized by Karachi University's Area Study Centre for Europe (ASCE) in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Islamabad. "Look at our economy which is sinking because of heavy defence spending," said Shahid M. Amin, a former ambassador. He was implying that the country had to spend heavily on defence because of the Kashmir question, besides other threats from India. He said that the Kashmir issue was vital for Pakistan. "But the country itself is more vital," he said. He was of the view that the country had become obsessed with the Kashmir problem.


      Kashmir conflict sends defence spending soaring in India, Pakistan
      LONDON, Oct 21 (AFP) - Ten weeks of fighting between India and Pakistan in Kashmir earlier this year will have major repercussions for defence spending in the newly-nuclear region, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said Thursday.
      It said the after-effects of the conflict would strain budgets in a region which continues to commit more government resources to defence than any other area apart from the Middle East.

      Pakistan's move to occupy key sites on the Indian side of the Kashmir border, the so-called Line of Control, in May took India by surprise, the IISS said in its annual defence review "The Military Balance". It was failure of Indian intelligence, admits an Indian expert. "It seems clear that the infiltration (in Kashmir) included Pakistani regular forces and Islamic militants who were from both the Kashmir region and Afghanistan," the IISS said.

      "Whatever Islamabad's political motives might have been, the military objectives were clear," it said -- Pakistani forces hoped to dominate the only land route from the capital Srinagar to Leh.The route is essential to India to supply its troops in the region.

      The 10-week conflict from May to July brought the arch-rivals close to a fourth war and sparked international alarm over a possible nuclear conflict after both countries carried out nuclear tests in 1998.

      The IISS said following the Pakistani incursion, India placed strict constraints on its military, barring it from carrying out operations on Pakistan-controlled territory.The purpose, it said, was to secure as much international political support as possible.

      "This policy brought important political benefits, but Indian forces suffered greater casualties as a result.

      "In particular, the conflict might have ended earlier if the Indian Air Force had been allowed to attack the inflitrators' supply bases, and there would have been less need for the army to seize mountain heights."

      Official sources say about 450 Indian troops were killed in the fighting, but estimates from other sources put the toll higher.

      The IISS said while the two sides nuclear capablilities made no direct difference to the conduct of military operations "it may have encouraged Pakistani boldness in the expectation that the Indian military response would be tempered by a perceived need for restraint."

      The nuclear issue did, however, have an effect on the international community, the IISS said.

      "In particular, it prompted intervention by US President Bill Clinton who put pressure on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to withdraw the infiltrators from the Indian side of the Line of Control."

      Muslim militants have blamed Sharif's "mishandling" of the Kashmir conflict for last week's military coup by Pakistan's powerful generals.

      The Indian Air Force carried out some 550 bombing raids during the conflict, the IISS said.

      It said New Delhi -- which boosted defence spending in 1999 by 11 percent to 10.7 billion dollars (9.9 billiion euros ) -- may been keen to improve its air power with more precision-guided weapons.

      It said both India and Pakistan would pursue their missile programmes more vigorously to advance their capabilities.

      Pakistan did not provide a breakdown of defence spending. The IISS put the 1998 figure at around four billion US dollars, including paramilitary and nuclear spending.


        Not yet! Kashmir first!

        Fata Morgana


          Solve the Kashmir question and there is no reason for the stand-off between Pakistan and India. How badly do the Indians want peace, that is the question?


            Indians want Kashmir and peace. They want to have their cake and eat it too. No Way.