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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Kashmir: Has war been averted?

  Click here to watch the Talking Point phone-in discussion on Kashmir.  

Tension between India and Pakistan over Kashmir appears to be easing.

The Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, said in a newspaper interview that the threat of war is now minimal.

And India is said to be considering conciliatory measures towards Pakistan, after Pakistani assurances that it will clamp down on cross-border infiltrators.

However, shelling across the disputed border in Kashmir has continued.

And with hundreds of thousands of troops massed in the region, the situation between the two nuclear powers remains volatile.

The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has arrived in Delhi to begin a two-day diplomatic mission to the region.

Has the threat of war receded? Are you or people you know thinking of leaving the region? What would be the consequences of a nuclear confrontation?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Yes, I think the tension is easing. Now would be a good time for Indians to realise that India is not a rising super power, as most Indians would like to believe. A large number of the people in India are living below the poverty line and perhaps its high time their government spent more money looking after the welfare of its citizens.

I may fear nuclear war between India and Pakistan; but what it truly frightening is that a seeming majority of Indians and Pakistanis don't seem to share that fear. Patriotism on both sides recalls public sentiment in Europe just prior to the First World War. Both sides were eager to declare their dominance, both predicted the war would be over "by Christmas" 1914, and both, incidentally, were arguing about effective control of territory that didn't belong to them.
John Huettner, USA

It is time the UN became the force it needs to be to make ANY country in the world think twice before attacking others or causing its people to suffer. The consequence of such aggressive action should be the immediate invasion of that country and the removal of that country's current regime replaced by a UN interim government. From then on the priority would be provide that country with the tools (education, health care, funding etc) to ensure that the country is free, fair, respects human rights and is tolerant of others. Whether the UN has what it takes to do the 'bad guy' role before 'killing them with kindness' is doubtful but it would certainly ease some of the worlds suffering populations.
Scott, UK

I was never once fearful of the possibility of the outbreak of war.

Guru S, USA
I was never once fearful of the possibility of the outbreak of war. India is a responsible, peaceful nation, and does whatever is possible to maintain peace in the region. It is unfortunate, however, that a nation that has the potential to become the world's next superpower is being cowered off the path of progress by those having malicious intent.
Guru S., USA

Yes, I think war has been averted, but as always the root cause, the status of Kashmir, still festers. There are only so many times that the threat of war can be avoided.
Waq, London, UK

The recent visits by Armitage and Rumsfeld to broker a de-escalation of tension between India and Pakistan are misleading. The threat of war has not receded. The Indian Army is so roused up; its morale at an all-time high, and its formations in an attack position. It would be very difficult to extricate itself from the current impasse. Within the next 2 months there are several windows of opportunity for attacking the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan. It will all depend on the weather, opportunity and political willpower. If any of the two sides resorts to nukes first, it would be Pakistan. It is this Pakistani irrationality that India has factored into its calculations if it decides to declare war. The consequences would be horrendous for both. I think its high time the UN initiates a permanent session on resolving this crisis and start a multilateral agreement to abolish nukes from the world.
Sonny Azhak, London, UK

Who can guarantee that terrorist activities will not start again in the near future?

It is good to observe that de-escalation process has started. But I wonder whether this whole thing will bear any effect. Who can guarantee that terrorist activities will not start again in the near future. Pakistan claims them to be freedom fighters. These freedom fighters open fired in public places like markets, religious places, blasted bombs in populated areas. So many Kashmiris got killed. I wonder why would freedom fighters want to kill fellow Kashmiris ?

Let us not forget that India's two famous Prime Ministers, Jawaharla Nehru and Indira Gandhi, were full-blooded Kashmiris. They seem to have been quite content with Kashmir being a part of India!!!
Dinesh, Calcutta, India

Whilst the Kashmir problem is unresolved and terrorists can operate there freely, the risk of war will remain.
Baz, UK

I don't believe that the two countries will go to war. They are both aware of the devastation nuclear weapons will cause and will do everything in their power not to use them. However, a conventional skirmish, like the one in 1998 in Kargil, is not out of the question. They will exchange a bit of fire across their borders and then go home at the end of the day. One must remember that the most important outcome that both countries want is saving face. One does not want to seem weaker when compared to the other.
Amit Tonse, Washington, DC, USA

A fusion of muscle with financial incentives will get both countries to see sense

Aasim, Islamabad, Pakistan
India should stop acting like a child and learn to be reasonable, and only the US can knock some sense into them. India cannot achieve a victory without the complete eradication of many of its cities. The United States must deal more firmly with India and convince them to come to the discussion table. Pakistan, which is willing to talk, must be convinced to act upon what they claim by offering the Kashmiris nothing more than sympathy and "moral support". The only thing India will listen to is force, and the only thing cash strapped Pakistan will listen to is foreign aid. A fusion of muscle with financial incentives will get both countries to see sense.
Aasim, Islamabad, Pakistan

Many people are talking about giving the Kashmiris a voice. India is supposed to hold an election there later this year but with terrorists coming into their country that seems a little difficult. And I find Pakistanis who claim that India has quelled the Kashmiri spirit to be amazingly hypocritical. Pakistan occupied Kashmir has an unlimited supply of training camps. Where are terrorists being trained in Indian Kashmir? A nation has every right to defend itself. India is looked upon as a villain even when they try to give Kashmiris a voice. I'd like Pakistan to show me how much representative power an average POK citizen has!
Karan, USA

This is more than certain that there will be no war, at least in the way we think a war happens. But at the same time, the war really has been going on for over a decade. More soldiers and civilians have died in last ten years than the war in 1971. I guess the daily shelling and firings at each other does vent off some of the fury both parties have. However, terrorism is the real and present danger. Pakistan's leadership is handicapped, as far as its cracking down on terrorism is concerned, because that will be a hugely unpopular act. President Musharraf has already sacrificed much to save Pakistan's face, he cannot let go of Kashmir as well. This might spell his political doom.
Rahul Kumar, Ranchi, India

I see it from a different angle to the present war like situation between India and Pakistan. The Americans have an agenda for having their presence in this part of the world. The reason is not yet clear why. They need a strong ally which they find in Musharraf. In a true democratic set up Musharraf has no place in Pakistan. The recent referendum has revealed the true state of affairs regarding the popularity of the military dictators. Hence the Americans have asked the Indian government to put pressure on the Pakistan boundaries so that the attention of the common people both in Pakistan and India be distracted from the real domestic problems. I don't see Musharraf and Vajpayee fighting for anything. In fact they are working hand in hand for advancing the interests of the present US set up. Just recall the world how it was a month before when Bush took over.
Syed Jaffer, Karachi, Pakistan

My relatives, who live in target cities, do not fear this war threat. Maybe they knew that this kind of Indian war threat can only make the world understand and accept the reality of terrorism being bred and exported from across the border.
Kadavul, San Jose, USA

The hyperbole over a possible nuclear exchange is very unsubtly racist

Unni Krishnan, Melbourne, Australia
War is war. It has never been a pretty sight and can only be avoided if there are other non belligerent means understood, appreciated and valued by both sides. The hyperbole over a possible nuclear exchange is very unsubtly racist. Two darkie nations with dangerous weapons but not the capacity controls themselves 'simply irresponsible'. Kashmir is an integral a part of India not because the west agrees with us but in spite of it. If a state is to be created on the basis of religious beliefs then where would Britain, Australia and the US want us to place nearly 200 million Indian Muslims who constitute a minority in India? Look at how Australia treats their refugees who are mainly Muslim: 350 drowned whilst the Australian navy watched on the horizon because these were Muslims from Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the largest number of illegal migrants in Australia over the past 20 years remains the British - 200,000 of theme. Double standards are the cause of war.
Unni Krishnan, Melbourne, Australia

India does this militant drama every year to get media attention and sympathies from all over the world.
Brenda, Montclair, USA

I think its time for India to re-evaluate its strategy for fighting terrorism. India should realize that they are dealing with guerrillas and the usual rules of engagement don't apply to them. I came across a figure of about $150m that India spends on counter terrorism but where is all that money is going? I think they should conduct more overt operations and come prepared with more evidence to show the rest of the world what exactly is going on...
Suresh, Chicago, US

I think that everyone has to go back in history to find who's right and who's wrong. All the people who say Kashmir should go to Pakistan because there is a Muslim majority there, I say: India has more Muslims than Pakistan and all those Muslims have more rights than Muslims in Pakistan. Pakistan should also know that a regional superpower like India will never give up, they have most of Kashmir already. Taking it back and occupying it would be like the situation in Israel.
Nitish, Canada

The real solution is implementation of the UN resolution calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir.
Salman Khaliq, Pakistan

What kind of a referendum will you have at the point of a terrorist gun?

Kunal, India / USA
To Salman Khaliq: I guess it's time to wake up. The time for plebiscite is gone. What kind of a referendum will you have at the point of a terrorist gun? And what about the thousands of Kashmiri Hindu families that could have had their voice in this so-called plebiscite if they weren't massacred or driven out of the state over the years by fundamentalists and terrorists? Even if Kashmir did achieve independence through this skewed plebiscite, how long do you think it will survive as an independent nation before Pakistan annexes it? There is no easy solution on this issue of Kashmir. War is definitely not an option but let's not complicate matters with a plebiscite which promises to be skewed, polarized and a catalyst for further misery for the Kashmiri people.
Kunal, India / USA

From the talk of Pakistani people here, it is clear that they are not interested in welfare of Pakistan or anything else but want to give this issue international fame. And as far as India is concerned we are restraining ourselves. The best way for Pakistan is to stop terrorism. We will surely respond to their positive steps.
Ronak, India

Hypocrisy is everywhere. The bottom line is: US, UK, China and Russia all want a war between India and Pakistan. At the same time they also want the credit for advocating peace. I don't understand why the foolish Pakistanis don't get this?
Hemadri, San Diego, USA

This conflict is like two bald men fighting over a hairbrush.
P.D. Asilomar, USA

In India we believe that limiting factors like religion and race cannot be the basis of nationhood.

Rajesh, USA
I am amazed at how ignorant people are - especially the international community - about the Kashmir issue. In India we believe that limiting factors like religion and race cannot be the basis of nationhood. And this belief of ours is proven true by the growing multi-ethnic and multi-racial makeup of US and Europe. However Pakistan was formed on the basis of a nation for Muslims, so for them it is natural to think that Kashmir should be theirs. Pakistanis cannot think beyond their narrow vision of religion. If Kashmir is given independence why not give Kerela or Gujarat or all 27 Indian states the same status? Take my word - Kashmir will never leave India. Believe me, if Mexico sent mercenaries and misguided youths to New Mexico and Texas to reclaim their land, killing innocent white people there, the US would crush Mexico in the blink of an eye. We have been patient too long.
Rajesh, USA

Pakistan should be forced by the international community to halt all terrorist activities, including support to either Al-Qaeda or Kashmiri terrorists. All Indians ask of Pakistanis is to be left alone. All I ask of Musharraf is stop the infiltration, agree to peace, and look inwards to correct his own rotten systems.
Sanjay, Stanford, USA

Imran from India: you say India is the best place for Muslims to live, and there is no problem towards Muslim in India. Didn't you hear about Gujarat where hundreds of Muslims were killed, woman raped, burned alive?
Zak, UK

If India were to try to attack Pakistan, they would be wiped off the face of this Earth.
The Man, Canada

No army has ever been able to win in a guerilla warfare. Kashmir never ever belonged to India, so to keep on claiming to be an integral part of India is wishful thinking. The $500b spent on Kashmir since 1947 could have been better spent on clean drinking water
Babloo, Charleston, US

I fail to understand the double standards of the West

Imran Lakhwera, Chicago, US
I fail to understand the double standards of the West regarding Kashmir. What happened to the UN resolutions on 1948 which explicitly declares Kashmir a disputed territory and demands a fair vote from the people of Kashmir for their will? This issue will never be solved for the next 100 years if India continues its occupation of Kashmir. Let's face it, every time there is a struggle for freedom, the dominant country labels it terrorism. If armed struggle against occupation is terrorism, then the creation of Israel, US, India East Taimor, Vietnam is also questionable. There is only one solution, let the people of Kashmir decide what they want.
Imran Lakhwera, Chicago, US

I think a viable solution to this deadlock is both countries accepting the LoC as the international border. Kashmiris who prefer to join Pakistan should move over to the Pakistan side of Kashmir while those who prefer to be called Indian citizens should move to India. And those Kashmiris who want to be independent can join India too since India is a secular country with freedom of speech and religion!
Sanjay, Los Angeles, USA / India

I have seen two Indo-Pak wars in 1965 and 1971 and still the pain is there. The war is so ugly and destructive that it spares nothing, the people, cities, economy, basic human values and just everything it destroys. I still fail to understand why the nations go to war and what they gain out of it? I belong to Khemkaran the border town of Indian Punjab, and I shiver at the thought of the war.
Dr. Ashok Kumar, Muscat(Oman)

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See also:

03 Jun 02 | South Asia
28 May 02 | South Asia
27 May 02 | Media reports
23 May 02 | South Asia
21 May 02 | South Asia
19 May 02 | South Asia
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