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India should stop hallucinating

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    India should stop hallucinating


    The scariest aspect of the crisis between India and Pakistan today is not the way troops are exchanging artillery fire along the snowy mountains of Kashmir.

    Rather, it is the way the escalations mimic war simulations held over the years. Spooks and scholars have conducted many mock conflicts between the two countries, with specialists playing the parts of leaders on each side. Very frequently the result is nuclear war.

    In conversations with experts, including those who launched nuclear strikes in these war games, the precariousness of the South Asian nuclear balance is clear. Paradoxically, the tiny number of nuclear weapons on each side creates instability and an incentive to launch a first strike use your arsenal or lose it.

    I don't really think that another war will erupt between India and Pakistan, or that if it does it will go nuclear. Essentially what is happening is that the Indian government is huffing and bluffing, both for domestic political gain and to scare Pakistan into making concessions. As Stephen P. Cohen, an American scholar, puts it: "The Indians are escalating the crisis to an international level. They see this as a good opportunity to press Pakistan."

    But the risks are so cataclysmic that Washington must do more, partly by extracting concessions from Pakistan but mostly by emphasizing to India that it must come to its senses and stand down.

    The nub of the problem today is that India is behaving as if it and Pakistan were still two-bit countries. Talk to Indian officials and journalists, and the same refrain arises: Americans are destroying terrorists in Afghanistan and Israelis are swatting militants in the West Bank, so why can't we whack Pakistan for the attack on our Parliament building?

    Such comments underscore how completely India misunderstands its position today. There is a double standard in international affairs, and India had better recognize it quickly. It is this: Major powers periodically invade minor countries that irritate them, but they do not lightly mess with other nuclear states.

    For a variety of reasons, most of them foolish and having to do with national prestige, India created a nuclear arms race in South Asia. Having pulled both itself and Pakistan into the nuclear club, India has to calm down and engage Pakistan with the same terrified delicacy with which the United States, Russia and China treat each other.

    One study found that foreign terrorists struck America 2,400 times between 1983 and 1998, but that the United States hit back militarily only three times: for Libya's bombing of a nightclub in 1986, Iraq's attempt to assassinate former President Bush in 1993, and Al Qaeda's bombing of American embassies in Africa in 1998. Quite responsibly, we pick fights only with 97-pound countries.

    Of course, one can't help sympathizing with India. Nobody deserves having a prickly and unstable country like Pakistan next door. Pakistan's intelligence service killed more people in terrorist incidents over the years than Osama bin Laden did.

    But Gen. Pervez Musharraf has taken genuine steps to tug Pakistan toward moderation. And the political constraints on him are real. Just as New Delhi is politically unable to allow Kashmiris a plebiscite on their future, so Mr. Musharraf cannot arrest Kashmir militants and hand them over to India. He would be overthrown 10 minutes later.

    Here is where Washington can help. We need to send an emissary to the region not Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose frankness has not made him very welcome in India, but somebody like George Tenet, the C.I.A. director, or Richard Haass, a senior State Department official to wrench concessions from each side and begin to reverse the spiral.

    We need to lean on Mr. Musharraf to place known anti-Indian militants like Maulana Masood Azhar under meaningful arrest. Likewise, India needs to tone down its talk of war, back off on military mobilization and ease up on its harsh rule in Kashmir.

    Indian leaders, having created a dangerous situation with their brinkmanship, might well relish a concession that would allow them to declare victory and retreat. "They're hoping like hell privately that something will give," says Kanti P. Bajpai, a scholar in New Delhi. "But if not, I don't know what will happen."

    That is when you remember those war simulations, shake your head at the monstrousness of the thought and still shiver.

    [This message has been edited by Abdali (edited December 28, 2001).]


    India did not get jack for last 12 years. Only shows a minor diplomatic approach from US is far more effective then 12 years of Indian ranting and raving and *****ing.

    Just in case you don't know India tried this drama about a decade ago. Wanted to shut down camps in Pak. Nothing happened then and nothing will happen now like Harkat Laskar and jaish will change their name business as usual.

    [This message has been edited by sabah (edited January 02, 2002).]


      India better learn quick that we aren't a small nation, we won't be bullied around.
      We can stand toe to toe with them on the nuke issue and they better back down.

      Ours is not to reason why;
      Ours is but to do and die
      You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!