Over the last several days, the situation in the area of the Indo-Pakistani border and in the states Jammu and Kashmir has become heated. Reports about terrorist acts and skirmishes arrive every few hours. In particular, on March 22, on the border between the two states, a real artillery duel took place. According to the Indian command, as a result, nine Pakistani soldiers were killed. On the Indian side, one officer and eight soldiers were wounded. The situation is so tense that Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes had to postpone his visit to Russia, which, at first, was fixed for March 24-27.
Why did the conflict recommence now? The main reason is the stirring up of Muslim extremists in Pakistan. Recent events, such as the terrorist act in the Protestant church in Islamabad and assaults at political and religious figures in Pakistan, are directly connected with the militants in Kashmir. As for the latest case, Pakistani special services unofficially supported Kashmir separatists. However, skirmishes often occur on the Indo-Pakistani border, but under today’s conditions, they are very dangerous, because they could grow into a full-scale armed conflict, whose consequences are completely unpredictable both for the conflicting sides and for the whole region.
The tense relations between Islamabad and Delhi are more aggravated if both sides do not want to compromise. Internal Minister Lal Krishna Advani said that his country was ready to normilize relations with its neighbour; however, only in if Pakistan satisfies all the demands of India regarding the extraditon of terrorists. However, Islamabad does not want to agree to this, because on the Indian list, the names of several Pakistani citizens figure. Therefore, for Perves Musharraf to satisfy the Indian demand, it will be equal to admitting defeat and is fraught with serious troubles in Pakistan itself. At least the circumstance and the seriousness of the situation cause the US to prepare itself for the evacuation of its diplomats from Pakistan. The Pakistani government issued an address to foreign journalists, calling on them to be extremely careful. In this way, the government admits that it is not able to guarantee the security of foreigners on its territory. However, all this is not directly connected with the Indo-Pakistani conflict’s aggravation, but it signifies much.
Therefore, the situation in the region remains very tense. However, this does not mean that India and Pakistan are doomed to constant conflicts between them, though, to recommence the dialogue, Delhi and Islamabad need to forget old prejudices and sit down to the negotiating table. A bad peace is better than a good quarrel.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/03/23/38708.html