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Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Analysis: US keeps South Asian peace
Indian Army soldier demonstrates rocket launcher used against suspected Islamic militants in Kaluchak
India has sent thousands of troops to the border
test hello test
By Abdul Gafoor Noorani
Indian writer on Kashmir

The US has been decisive in maintaining peace in South Asia since the attack on India's parliament on 13 December.

The US simply cannot allow a war to break out between the two nuclear armed states, least of all now

India responded by amassing 700,000 troops along the LoC and the international border to back its demands.

One of these was that action be taken against two Pakistan-based militant groups, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

India wanted their offices in Pakistan closed, their access to funds cut and their leaders arrested.

Indians demonstrate near Pakistani embassy in Delhi
Indians blame Pakistan for the latest attack
Over time Pakistan complied substantially with these demands.

But on 31 December, India sent another demand for the surrender of 20 alleged terrorists.

The US effort since then has been to secure a compromise on these demands through high-power diplomacy.

Intensive diplomacy

These have included intercessions by President George W Bush himself with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf.

On 23 December, President Bush said he had talked to both the leaders on the phone.

Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf has been told to curb militants
"I urged President Musharraf to do everything he could to crack down on the terrorist network," Mr Bush said.

"I explained to the prime minister of India that while I understood his anger, I was hoping that they were not headed for war."

These messages were repeated and fleshed out by US Secretary of State Colin Powell when he visited India and Pakistan in January.

His visit was followed immediately with one by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that month, and another by Ms Rocca herself in April.

US ambassadors in Delhi and Islamabad were all the while actively at work pressing the message on both sides.

War 'not an option'

But the US role was not confined to diplomacy alone.

Using satellites, it has also kept a close vigil on the border and the LoC.

Lt General Kapil Vij, commanding the elite strike 2 Corps, was removed and sent on leave for moving his troops forward to within two kilometres of the international border.

The US also gave India detailed advice on how the forces, though massed on the border and the LoC, could nonetheless be in a non-threatening posture.

Colin Powell used his expertise and the respect he commands to advise that combat aircraft be positioned without being armed with bombs and missiles all the time.

It is clear that the US role in Indo-Pakistani affairs will deepen in the days ahead.

The US simply cannot allow a war to break out between the two nuclear armed states, least of all now.

See also:

14 May 02 | South Asia
US urges calm over Kashmir attack
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