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DATE=8/21/1999 TYPE=ON THE LINE TITLE=ON THE LINE: THE INDIA-PAKISTAN CRISIS NUMBER=1-00768 EDITOR=OFFICE OF POLICY - 619-0037 CONTENT= Anncr: On the Line - a discussion of United States policy and contemporary issues. This week, "The India-Pakistan Crisis." Here is your host, Robert Reilly. Host: Hello and welcome to On the Line. Sporadic fighting in Kashmir between Indian troops and Muslim militants continues, but the danger of a full-scale conflict between India and Pakistan has receded. Earlier this year, India and Pakistan seemed to be moving towards improved relations. The prime ministers of both nations met in Lahore, Pakistan in February, the first such visit by an Indian leader in a decade. The dialogue was seen as all the more important since both countries had conducted successful nuclear tests last year. When fighting in Kashmir broke out in May, it provoked worldwide concern because, as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, "Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint." Joining me today to discuss the crisis between India and Pakistan are three experts. Stephen Cohen is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Zalmay Khalilzad is director of the strategy and doctrine program at the RAND Corporation and a former Assistant Under Secretary of Defense. And Michael Krepon is president of the Henry Stimson Center, a Washington-based think tank. Welcome to the program. Stephen Cohen, how is it that, in February, a declaration is singed between the two prime ministers in Lahore, committing them to the peaceful resolution of all the outstanding issues between Pakistan and India, and several months later there is an armed conflagration in Kashmir? What happened? Cohen: We are still learning about what happened. Apparently, Nawaz Sharif decided to give permission for an incursion by the Pakistan military or something supported by the Pakistan military. And either it was larger than he thought it would be or it got out of hand. It was more successful than he thought it would be, and the Indians suffered at least a tactical military defeat. I think, though, that Lahore and Kargil, these two extremes, do represent the way in which the countries relate to each other -- in extremes. They do find it hard to establish a normal working relationship. And that's been with us for forty- five years. Host: And is the worst part of that bad relationship constituted by the Kashmir issue? Cohen: No, it could have been worse and it could get worse. Kashmir has been a contentious issue between the two countries for a long time, but I think they have worked out a relationship where they will not let Kashmir get out of hand. Host: Zalmay Khalilzad, what was the purpose of this action on the side of Pakistan? What did they hope to achieve, and did they achieve it? Khalilzad: The Pakistani calculation is that with the nuclear weapons that they now posses - as limited a capability as it might be - they are somewhat safe in terms of a bigger war, that the likelihood of a big war has decreased because of the existence of nuclear weapons. And therefore they feel freer to pursue insurgency operations against India in order to get international attention to the Kashmir issue and in order to get the United States, in particular, to become involved and seek a settlement of the Kashmir issue on terms that would be more acceptable to Pakistan. The problem is whether the Pakistani Prime Minister miscalculated, that is, in thinking that the war can remain limited, that they can indulge in activities like Kargil. But things might get out of hand and inadvertently lead to a bigger war. I agree with Steve that neither wants a big war but, out of miscalculation, war is an unpredictable business. It is plausible that, as Pakistanis pursue an insurgency strategy against India, the Indian reactions and Pakistani counter- reactions to that could, not that it necessarily would, lead to a bigger war, including the use of nuclear weapons. Host: Mr. Krepon, wasn't the whole impetus of the Lahore meeting driven by the fact that a small conflict could lead to a nuclear confrontation? So it was ironic to see that small conflagration take place so soon after the concerns expressed that we can't fight each other now because of the dangers of nuclear escalation. Krepon: I think there were a lot of elements behind Lahore. There were a lot of reasons for Lahore. And they were genuine reasons. There are people in both India and Pakistan who do want to turn the page after fifty years of enmity. There are business interests in both countries that want to have a normal trading relationship. These countries are both stunted in terms of their economic development and potential because of the military drain and the drain of insurgency, which by the way is a drain on Pakistani society, as well as Indian society. There are lots of good reasons to go to Lahore. It was a terrible miscalculation on the part of some of the Pakistani military leaders and on the part of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to pursue a Kargil strategy immediately after a Lahore strategy. This speaks to the incoherence, the growing incoherence of Pakistan's approach toward India and also the difficulties that are growing within Pakistan itself. Host: That's an interesting point, and to what extent does that incoherence that you just referred to reflect political incoherence inside Pakistan? Cohen: I would say that Pakistan has been groping for a new political order almost since that day it was born. It has gone through several definitions of what it means to be a Pakistani and what Pakistan stands for, ranging from being "not Indian" to being Islamic and everything in between. The military have played an inordinate role in Pakistani politics. And in a sense, since they have been in power for almost twenty-five years, half the country's existence, they have not allowed civilians to rise up and assume their own political role. And therefore their security and defense policy-making in Pakistan is somewhat imbalanced. The military, I think, are very professional and, I think, are very competent for the most part. But there is not balance to it. And to make sound decisions, to make wise decisions, to avoid making these kinds of mistakes, you need to balance the officer's mess with a responsible political party. Pakistan has yet to develop that, even now after ten years of democracy under [former Prime Minister] Benazir [Bhutto] and Nawaz Sharif. Host: To what extent does the fact that Pakistan is more and more defining itself as an Islamic state have an impact on its policy inside of Kashmir? Because some say this was an area in which the Hindus and Muslims lived very peacefully for centuries, but because it was more of a Sufi kind of Muslim practice, and now that's been radicalized by the mujahadeen. What do you think? Khalilzad: I think that the fact that Pakistan has been unhappy with the situation in Kashmir has been true whether it has had a government that has been Islamic or more secular. I think the content of the forces that are operating in Kashmir now, and supported by Pakistan, has become more Islamic. Host: What are the Afghans doing there? Khalilzad: Well, we talked earlier about the incoherence of Pakistan's policy on Kashmir and India. You can see the same thing in regard to Afghanistan, where on the one hand you get many Pakistanis in government and in the elite fearful of Talebanism and the phenomenon we see in Afghanistan spreading to Pakistan, and on the hand in the government of Pakistan as a whole and the I-S-I, the intelligence arm of the Pakistan military and government supporting the Taleban. And in those areas of Afghanistan that are under the control of Taleban, there are facilities in which Kashmiri militants, Kashmiri mujahadeen if you like, get trained. And sometimes they are mixed together with some of the Arabs and some international terrorists networks that also operate and train out of there. Cohen: I would add that one of Pakistan's problems is that it is strategically too far extended. It has really overreached itself. It has tried to conduct a major war, in a sense a revolution in Afghanistan and also into central Asia. It is the base for various Islamic movements, some more violent and some more radical than others are. And it is also trying to wage a low level, low intensity war with India. That would be possible because it is a large and powerful state, if it were a coherent state. But Pakistan has allowed its economy to deteriorate; its social structure is unraveling in many ways. There are sectarian disputes within Pakistan between different varieties of Islam, and also there is an inter-provincial conflict in Pakistan. So I think Pakistan is really overreaching itself and it has to cut its strategy to its capabilities. Host: Michael Krepon, you had mentioned that there are substantial forces in both Pakistan and India that want to turn a new page. To what extent is their desire frustrated or aided by the fact that both of these are now nuclear powers? Krepon: With the advent of covert nuclear capabilities in the early 1990s, Kashmir got hotter. The situation in Kashmir got a lot worse. And with the advent of overt nuclear capabilities in both countries last year, Kashmir got a lot worse. So there is a connection. But let me talk a little bit about Pakistan's Kashmir problem and also India's Kashmir problem. There are very, very different. Pakistan's Kashmir problem, as Steve Cohen has said, is that Pakistan's Kashmir policy is an insurgency policy. And the more Pakistan resorts to the use of the gun within Kashmir, the more the gun becomes prevalent within Pakistan itself. And so Pakistan's Kashmir policy threatens Pakistan. And it does not help Kashmiris. And that truth is not widely discussed in Pakistan, certainly in the media. India also has a Kashmir problem. India's Kashmir problem is that India's governance has not done real well in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir. That is being very polite. There is widespread alienation. People do not like what the Indian security forces are doing on the ground. India's approach to Kashmir has had only one track, which is fighting insurgency. And every Indian scholar who has looked at Kashmir has come to the same conclusion. A one-track policy for Kashmir is not going to work. Host: What is the United States supposed to do about this, because when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came here and met with President Bill Clinton on the 4th of July, he obtained from him a statement that President Clinton would take a personal interest in resolving the Kashmir dispute? Now how can the United States do that? Khalilzad: I think that for the immediate future I don't see a real prospect for a settlement or a compromise between India and Pakistan. The options clearly could be acceptance of the current line of control, some modification of the current line of control in favor of Pakistan, and independence for Kashmir, or a grand bargain across south Asia involving China and India, as well as resolving the Indo-Pakistan problem in the name of nuclear stability because this has become a nuclearized region. And there is a need of a settlement of a grand kind. Host: But first of all you would have to settle the dispute over what would be the means by which to have such a conversation, because India maintains the they do not want to talk about this in the U-N or even with the united States. It is a bilateral issue, and Pakistan says the opposite. Khalilzad: I think that maybe it will take time to get the parties to move towards considering one of these options. I would not rule out that India would want to engage. Perhaps the formula would have to be a creative one that doesn't really indicate third party involvement de jure, while de facto there could be some such third party involvement. I think that the problem is not only India, but the problem is also Pakistan because each of the alternatives, except one in which the whole of Kashmir comes and joins Pakistan, poses Pakistan with extreme dilemmas and challenges. But I think what we need to do is to become more engaged in preparing the grounds for a settlement over the longer term. The near term is to manage the crisis and prevent it from getting out of control. Host: What about the role in the region of the third nuclear power, China? Krepon: Pakistan would welcome China's involvement. India would consider it anathema. Host: What is the Chinese interest? Krepon: China has very good ties with Pakistan. Host: Indeed, they would not have their nuclear capability without China, would they? Krepon: There are many reports of Chinese help to Pakistan with respect to the missile program and the nuclear program, which is another reason why India would have great difficulty inviting China to sit at the table where a solution was to be formed. There is a real paradox here and a lot of people have discovered it. And that is that Pakistan, which has long called for internationalization, might actually not benefit if this were to occur. And that India, which has long opposed internationalization, might find that third parties would be supportive to Indian equities in this dissipate. So the United States has taken the position, and I think it is a good position, that we are not going to go in there and barge our way to the table. It is not going to work. It would not be welcome on the part of the Indian government. We are not going to do it. If both sides can see the wisdom of inviting third parties in to encourage, to suggest, to help in a variety of ways, my sense is that third parties would like to be helpful. We are worried about where this relationship is going between India and Pakistan. We are worried about Pakistan's future. And the longer this thing goes on, the worse it is likely to get. Host: Stephen Cohen? Cohen: I would be worried of a direct and major American role. And I think we are in agreement on that. I do think that America has interests in the region and has to get engaged, but more gradually. We don't have a process by which we can get engaged. If there were an American proposal for the settlement of Kashmir, for example, then certainly that would be the target for both India and Pakistan. That's certainly a way to shoot it down. America should engage other countries, not simply China, because China and the Saudis have some influence in Pakistan, but also Japan and some of the European states, which are concerned about both Kashmir and the nuclear issue. There are really two separate issues. The question of a nuclear war or nuclear proliferation from the region, and as well as to the region, and a conflict in Kashmir. I don't think that Kashmir itself necessarily leads to a nuclear war. These problems are tied together. They have to be unraveled in some way. And a more careful, extended diplomacy or diplomatic effort is necessary to deal with them both, a sort of parallel process. You don't deal with one only; you deal with both of them at the same time. And I think we have lacked this kind of balanced policy toward south Asia. Our primary emphasis for the past six or eight years has been entirely on non- proliferation. And we have ignored the disputes between India and Pakistan and also the disputes between India and China, where there is considerable enmity, at least on the India side. So I think a more holistic, comprehensive American view is necessary. I am not sure if this administration will get around to it, but certainly they are being forced to think of alternatives because the policy they have pursued has not worked. Host: I'm afraid that's all the time we have and I would like to thank our guests, Stephen Cohen from the Brookings Institute, Zalmay Khalilzad from the RAND Corporation, and Michael Krepon from the Henry Stimson Center, for joining me to discuss the India-Pakistan crisis. This is Robert Reilly for On the Line. 19-Aug-1999 15:05 PM EDT (19-Aug-1999 1905 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .