India and Pakistan are once again on the verge of war. They have fought in 1948, in 1965, and in 1971; and they have been on the verge of war many more times since then. The latest flare-up occurred when three militants attacked an Indian military camp in Jammu, the winter capital of Indian administered Kashmir. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but as usual Delhi accused Pakistan for being responsible for the attack. In fact, India claimed that two of the attackers, who died during the action, were Pakistani nationals. Pakistan, on the other hand, denied this allegation and claimed that the militant act might have originated from within India.
This is the second time after September 11 that the tension between the two countries has risen so high. Following another attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi last December tension became very high between the two nuclear powers. At that time too India blamed Pakistan for the attack and, as usual, Pakistan denied any link with the attack. However, although Delhi claims to have been exercising restraint, it stationed more than half a million troops along the border with Pakistan, held a two week long military exercise along the border with Pakistan, and launched a diplomatic offensive accusing Pakistan of supporting “cross-border terrorism.” In response, Pakistan also deployed an almost equal number of troops facing the Indians. In other words, both parties have been prepared for war since last December.
Based on its argument of “cross-border terrorism” India has been seeking the right to hit what it calls terrorist camps in Pakistani administered Kashmir. Pakistan, of course, denies the existence of any such camp, and has demanded the deployment of international observers in the border to monitor whether the militants are really crossing from Pakistan. India rejects this idea, arguing that both countries have agreed, following the 1971 war, to resolve issues through bilateral negotiations. But for Pakistan Kashmir is an international issue on which the United Nations has adopted a resolution in 1948 to hold a referendum on whether the people of Kashmir would like to join India or Pakistan.
India Fights Terrorism…
Following the first flare-up last December the Indian Prime Minister appealed to world powers to stop what he called his country’s fight against cross border terrorism. The slogan of fighting against terrorism seems to attract a lot of sympathy these days, but there is little effort to make a distinction between terrorism and freedom struggle. There is also a lack of clear definition about what constitutes state-sponsored terrorism. In response, presumably under pressure from Washington, Pakistan banned and seized financial resources of two groups claimed to have been working for the liberation of Kashmir. But this has not been effective in stopping militant activities. Rather since then Pakistan itself has witnessed two major attacks: one in an Islamabad church directed against American diplomats, the other in front of a Karachi hotel directed against French technicians working in Pakistan. Is there a connection between Pakistan banning these two groups and these two militant acts? It is not very certain. But the Pakistani President was unequivocally praised by world leaders for his firm action against the militant groups. That situation seems to have changed after the Jammu action.
The Indian Prime Minister immediately traveled to Kashmir, visited army camps, addressed the soldiers asking them to be prepared for a “decisive battle” to resolve the Kashmir issue. He also offered a handsome amount for developments in Kashmir. What is interesting is that the Prime Minister made these offers and challenges while addressing soldiers and the press: He did not meet any of the local political leaders in his trip. In fact the people of Kashmir were observing a boycott against his trip to the region.
Pakistan, on the other hand, not only rejected India’s threat of a “decisive battle,” declaring that it was ready to defend the country at any cost, it also announced its plan to conduct some “regular” missile tests. Although India played down the missile testing as one “for domestic consumption,” the Indian Prime Minister wrote to world leaders (Presidents of the United States and Russia, and the British Prime Minister) complaining that “Pakistan was not paying attention to the international community’s appeal to minimize the tension in the region.” As the tension continues to be very high the United States has advised its nationals not to visit any of the two countries. According to latest reports, Pakistan has already conducted two tests of surface to surface missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Now the question is: will a war between the two countries resolve this crisis? Will India be able to win the battle decisively? It was not able to do it in 1948 and 1971 - when Pakistan was relatively weak - can it do it now?
Is War the Solution?
Most observers believe that if there is war between the two countries, it has to be conventional, for a nuclear war will be devastating for both countries; any of them will hardly survive to claim victory. And India does not seem to be capable of winning a conventional war. The Jammu attack indicates that in spite of heavy presence of armed forces in the region, militants have been able to enter into a heavily protected army camp.
Can India blame Pakistan for such failure? India should not forget that recently thousands of Muslims have been massacred in the Gujarat state of India in which many survivors have lost everything, including most of their family members. The Indian government refused to even begin a judicial enquiry to investigate the causes of the event.
This is not the first time that the Indian government has refused to respect the fundamental human rights of its citizens. Will it be very difficult for Pakistan, in case of war, to recruit some of these elements to fight against India? And these elements might include alienated non-Muslim Indians as well. In this context one should keep in mind that Jammu is not a Muslim majority area. Why should this happen to a democratic country such as India? One should look for a response to this question in the Socratic criticism of Athenian democracy. An all-out war between the two countries will increase militant activities in the whole region.
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Chandra Bhushan on 2009-03-06 20:42:15 wrote,
Gudone .... India & pakistan... god knows wat will happen to this issue.