India and Pakistan: On the edge of war

Three decades after the last war between India and Pakistan, Delhi and Islamabad are on the edge of another armed conflict now. The situation is aggravated with the fact that both India and Pakistan are the nuclear powers.

The commander of the Indian army, general Padmanabhan declared his troops had been all set to wage war with Pakistan. The local news agency informed, India was considering the opportunities of the total rupture of the diplomatic relations with Islamabad. Thousands of the Indian military men have already been dispatched to the areas, bordering on Pakistan. The latter is not sitting quite and is doing the same. As it became known, Pakistan demanded the USA should leave from the two airbases, which were rendered to it earlier for the military operation in Afghanistan.

Anyway, the statements that are soon going to be made by the Pakistani President Musharraf are getting very much attention right now. Musharraf is supposed to set out the governmental program of struggle with the Islamic extremism, to outlaw several terrorist groups, which cooperated with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

The Indian government has been sceptic to Musharraf’s and other Pakistani senior officials’ statements, who said that they were not connected with terrorism, but ready for a political dialogue. Delhi wants Islamabad to come out with certain steps in the field of anti-terrorist struggle, to cut the activity of all extremist groups. India also wants Pakistan to deliver the leaders of the gunmen, who organized the terror attack on the Indian parliament in December of 2001. That was the moment, when the relations between the countries reached their peak of tension. There is also the Kashmir problem. Pakistan should stop maintaining the atmosphere of tension in Kashmir, not to inspire mutinies there. The Indian premier Atal Bihari Vajpayee said that it was not good to struggle with terrorism in Afghanistan and encourage terrorist in Kashmir. These words are addressed not only to Musharraf, but to the USA and its allies. “There should not be a dubious approach to terrorism.”

Will Musharraf realize them? President Bush promised the Indian internal affairs minister to exert pressure on Islamabad. But Pakistan is America's true ally in the anti-terrorist operation: this country renders its territory and army bases to the American soldiers.

Reuters quoted the Indian army chief, general Padmanabhan, who said that the military development of the situation was very likely to happen. The general added, if India and Pakistan exchanged the nuclear strikes, then it would be a very serious disaster for South Asia: “A country, which will strike a nuclear blow on India, will be punished so much that it will then be doubtful, if this country is going to survive.”

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

Reuters photo: Pakistani soldiers keep watch along the Chakoti Line of Control in Pakistan-held Kashmir, January 10, 2002