News

DATE=7/12/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-43853 TITLE=THE KASHMIR STRUGGLE BYLINE= ED WARNER DATELINE= WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: AS THE FIGHTING WINDS DOWN ALONG THE INDIA-PAKISTAN BORDER IN KASHMIR, FEARS OF AN ALL-OUT WAR HAVE RECEDED. SO HAVE FEARS -- HOWEVER REMOTE -- OF A NUCLEAR EXCHANGE. BUT THE COMBAT IN THE HIMALAYAS POINTS UP THE DIFFICULTY OF RESOLVING THE CONFLICT OVER KASHMIR, AND ISLAMIC MILITANTS PLEDGE THEY WILL CARRY ON THE FIGHT. CORRESPONDENT ED WARNER REPORTS SOME VIEWS OF THE CLASH AND WHERE IT MAY LEAD. TEXT: "WE ARE CLOSER TO GOD HERE, AND IF I DIE FOR MY COUNTRY, HE WILL TAKE ME." THAT IS HOW A SOLDIER IN THE HIGH HIMALAYAS DESCRIBES HIS FEELINGS ABOUT THE CONFLICT OVER KASHMIR. HIS WORDS INDICATE THE PASSIONS INVOLVED IN THE FIGHTING ALONG THE INDIA-PAKISTAN BORDER AND WHY IT MAY BREAK OUT AGAIN. THE TWO COUNTRIES PROVIDE DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THE EPISODE. PAKISTAN SAYS MILITANTS OUTSIDE ITS CONTROL INFILTRATED THE INDIAN SIDE OF THE BORDER. INDIA SAYS PAKISTANI TROOPS ARE INVOLVED. IT IS HARD TO TELL, SAYS STEPHEN COHEN, A SENIOR POLICY ANALYST AT THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION IN WASHINGTON: // COHEN ACT // IN PAKISTAN, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM OF KNOWING WHO IS IN CHARGE: WHETHER THIS WAS ORDERED BY THE MILITARY WITH (PRIME MINISTER) NAWAZ' (SHARIF) CONSENT OR WHETHER NAWAZ WAS NOT TOLD ANYTHING ABOUT IT. // END ACT // THE INFILTRATION NEEDED PAKISTANI ARMY SUPPORT, SAYS TERESITA SCHAFFER, A FORMER U-S AMBASSADOR TO SRI LANKA WHO NOW DIRECTS THE SOUTH ASIA PROGRAM AT THE CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES IN WASHINGTON. BUT SHE ADDS ISLAMIC MILITANTS STRESS THEIR INDEPENDENCE AND OPPOSE THE PLAN TO END THE FIGHTING: // SCHAFFER ACT // A NUMBER OF MUJAHEDIN GROUPS AND THEIR POLITICAL FRIENDS HAVE SHARPLY PROTESTED THE PAKISTANI DECISION TO TELL THEM TO RETURN. SOME HAVE GONE SO FAR AS TO SAY: "HE (PRIME MINISTER SHARIF) CAN NOT BOSS US AROUND. WE ARE NOT GOING TO DO IT." // END ACT // AMBASSADOR SCHAFFER SAYS KASHMIR IS A UNIFYING ISSUE AT A TIME OF ETHNIC AND ECONOMIC DISCONTENT IN PAKISTAN. THE NATION'S NEWLY ACQUIRED NUCLEAR WEAPONS MAY HAVE EMBOLDENED IT TO TEST INDIA'S RESOLVE. ACCORDING TO STEPHEN COHEN, PAKISTANIS BELIEVE THEY HAVE ACHIEVED STRATEGIC PARITY WITH INDIA: // COHEN ACT // SO I THINK THE ASSUMPTION THAT NUCLEAR WEAPONS MEAN AN END TO CONFLICT IS NOT QUITE RIGHT. I THINK IT MEANS AN END TO LARGE SCALE CONFLICT, BUT CONFLICT BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES HAS GONE ON AT A LOWER LEVEL FOR MANY YEARS AND WILL CONTINUE IN THE FUTURE. // END ACT // AMBASSADOR SCHAFFER NOTES INTERNATIONAL OPINION IS IMPORTANT TO PAKISTAN BECAUSE IT NEEDS OUTSIDE SUPPORT FOR ITS POSITION ON KASHMIR; NAMELY, THAT IT WAS UNFAIRLY DEPRIVED OF THE LARGELY MUSLIM REGION AT THE 1947 PARTITION OF INDIA AND PAKISTAN. BUT SHE BELIEVES PAKISTAN MAY HAVE MISCALCULATED WITH THE BORDER CROSSING, WHICH HAS NOT MET WITH APPROVAL ABROAD: // SCHAFFER ACT // YOU HAVE TO WONDER AT THIS POINT: SUPPOSE PAKISTAN WERE SUCCESSFUL IN PERSUADING THE OUTSIDE WORLD TO TAKE A MORE ACTIVE ROLE IN TRYING TO MOVE ITS RELATIONS WITH INDIA FORWARD? WOULD THAT HELP PAKISTAN GET THE PRIZE THAT HAS ELUDED IT FOR 50-YEARS? I AM NOT SO SURE. I THINK INTERNATIONAL OPINION HAS SHIFTED. // END ACT // AMBASSADOR SCHAFFER THINKS THE HIMALAYAS GAMBLE WAS MISTAKEN, BOTH IN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC TERMS. BUT SHE ADDS THAT DOES NOT RELIEVE INDIA OF THE NEED TO IMPROVE ITS GOVERNMENT IN KASHMIR AND START A POLITICAL PROCESS THAT WILL ENGAGE THE MUSLIM POPULATION. (SIGNED) NEB/EW/RAE 12-Jul-99 11:10 AM EDT (1510 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .