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19 July 1999

Transcript: Schaffer of CSIS "Global Exchange" on Kashmir Conflict

(Ambassador says India and Pakistan must resume peace process) (7360)

Ambassador Teresita Schaffer, director of the South Asia program at
the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) in Washington,
expressed optimism July 14 that India and Pakistan would fulfill their
commitment to withdraw troops from Kashmir, the mountainous border
region between the two countries.

"The key thing after [Pakistan's] Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited
Washington was for him to go home and to give the order to the forces,
and also to explain, not only to the army but the people of Pakistan,
why he has taken this decision," to ask Islamic fighters to withdraw
from the mountains of Indian Kashmir, where they have been battling
troops for seven weeks, she said.

Schaffer, who previously served as deputy secretary of State for Near
Eastern Affairs and in Tel Aviv, Islamabad, New Delhi and Dhaka,
acknowledged in a USIA Worldnet "Global Exchange" that "this is a very
complicated situation" and that there may be some people who will
refuse to obey the order, and will try to melt into the countryside.

"The important thing then will be for India and Pakistan to resume the
process of making peace, and I think that will be very difficult," she
said.

Schaffer noted that Pakistan's Prime Minister Sharif and India's Prime
Minister Vajpayee met last February in Lahore and made the political
decision that they were going to put their own power, their own
prestige and their own political momentum behind the effort to improve
relations.

"Unfortunately at this point, after two months of very intense
fighting, it will not be so easy to put that process back together
again. ... So in my view the two prime ministers will need to find a
new way, a new basis for giving that political commitment which they
had seemed to give in Lahore, and for giving it credibility," she
said.

Schaffer said she doesn't believe that either India or Pakistan wants
to provoke a nuclear confrontation; "it would be like suicide for both
of them."

Asked why the international community, particularly the United States,
does not intervene in this conflict as they have in Northern Ireland,
the Middle East and other areas, Schaffer said "The key thing in
Ireland and in the Middle East was that all of the parties to the
problem were urging the United States to provide its good offices to
facilitate the talks and to help them along. Between India and
Pakistan there is no such agreement, and you really cannot undertake
this kind of role unless both sides are interested in having you play
it."

Following is the transcript of the Global Exchange:

(begin transcript)

WORLDNET "GLOBAL EXCHANGE"
UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY
Television and Film Service of Washington, D.C.

GUEST: Ambassador Teresita Schaffer,
Director, South Asia Program,
Center for Strategic International Studies
TOPIC: Conflict in Kashmir
HOST: Mohanned Khatib
DATE: July 14, 1999
TIME: 10:00 - 11:00 EDT

MR. KHATIB: Hello, and welcome to "Global Exchange," I am Mohanned
Khatib. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said yesterday that he
was trying to avoid nuclear war by asking Islamic fighters to withdraw
from the mountains of Indian Kashmir, where they have bene battling
troops for seven weeks.

Let's take a look at this recent update on the conflict:

(Begin videotape.)

ANNOUNCER: India has set Friday, July 16th, as the deadline for
Islamic fighters to withdraw from Indian Kashmir. And it says Pakistan
has agreed to the schedule. Islamic fighters have begun withdrawing
from Kashmir's Kargil region, where they had captured high mountain
peaks earlier this year. India has halted airstrikes and ground
assaults to enable the fighters to retreat, as the two-month military
offensive in Kashmir appears to be drawing to a close.

On Monday, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Rahmin Dasin Jashal (ph)
said once Pakistani forces have been evicted from India's side of the
Line of Control it may be possible for the two rival countries to
begin a dialogue:

FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: Once that objective has been met, and the
sanctity of the Line of Control has been restored, it will be possible
to once again consider putting back on track the composite dialogue
process.

So at the moment I think this is the road map ahead of us.

ANNOUNCER: Meanwhile in Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman
James Foley said the United States welcomes the agreement, and he
urged both sides to resume their dialogue under the so-called Lahore
process.

MR. FOLEY: And we believe in fact that resolving this current crisis
along the line of control was the predicate indeed to restoring the
Lahore process, which India and Pakistan will be able to discuss the
entire range of issues between them, obviously including Kashmir.

ANNOUNCER: The two-month stand-off between India and Pakistan has been
the worst in the region since the two countries fought a border war in
1971.

(End videotape.)

MR. KHATIB: Today on "Global Exchange" we will discuss the conflict
between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, the mountainous border region
between those two nuclear powers. Our guest is Ambassador Teresita
Schaffer. Ambassador Schaffer served as deputy secretary of State for
Near Eastern affairs, and completed assignments in Tel Aviv,
Islamabad, New Delhi and Dhaka. She is currently the director of the
South Asia program at the Center for Strategic International Studies
here in Washington. Ambassador Schaffer, welcome to "Global Exchange."

AMB. SCHAFFER:  Thank you very much, I am delighted to be here.

MR. KHATIB: We would like also to welcome our viewers around the
world, and invite you to call in to our program to discuss India,
Pakistan and their conflict over Kashmir. You need to call your
international operator and say that you would like to make a collect
call to the United States. If you are asking a question in Arabic,
please call us collect at 202-205-9066. If you are calling with a
question in English, please call us also collect at 202-205-9001.

Let us begin, Madam Ambassador, to ask you the following question
regarding the deadline for the end of this week for the withdrawal of
the troops. Do you think that such a commitment will be fulfilled
regarding Kashmir?

AMB. SCHAFFER: Well, I am hopeful that it will. The key thing after
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Washington was for him to go home
and to give the order to the forces, and also to explain, not only to
the army but the people of Pakistan, why he has taken this decision.
And he made a very strong speech on Monday evening explaining that he
felt this was in the best interest of Pakistan. The directors general
of military operations of both India and Pakistan met, and they agreed
that this would be accomplished by the 16th of July. So I am hopeful
that that will happen.

MR. KHATIB: Even given the overt objection by the fighters who are in
the region, who have objected to implement -- there are about 15
apparently divisions or battalions that have rejected the idea of
withdrawal. Do you still expect in spite of that that they will
provide some concessions and will comply?

AMB. SCHAFFER: Well, this of course a very complicated situation.
Pakistan has maintained that the people who were fighting in the
Kargil area of Kashmir were freedom fighters. The Indians held that
they were Pakistan-backed, and in many cases regular Pakistan
military. And it is clear from the press release that the prime
minister of Pakistan agreed to that he was acknowledging
responsibility for the operation.

Now, it may be that there are some people there who will refuse to
obey the order, and will try to melt into the countryside. This is
very difficult terrain. And for that reason I am hopeful that the
operations will basically be wound up in the Kargil area.

The important thing then will be for India and Pakistan to resume the
process of making peace, and I think that will be very difficult.

MR. KHATIB: And let us go now live to London with ANN, which
broadcasts to the Middle East region, the Gulf region, as well as
North Africa. Please go ahead with your question.

Q: Thank you very much, and we welcome all our ANN viewers. Madam
Ambassador, don't you think it is time for countries around the world
to intervene in the Kashmir conflict, especially given the situation
that the military conditions on the ground may evolve and create a
more regional conflict? Don't you think now it is important to
internationalize the issue of Kashmir?

AMB. SCHAFFER: Take a look at the situation. The important thing is
for India and Pakistan to live in peace next door to one another. They
will not do this unless both sides have been part of the process of
making peace, and have fully accepted that peace.

In the past India has always strongly resisted Indian invasion.
Pakistan has urged the international community to take a greater
interest. At this point I think that the international community is
increasingly concerned about the danger that somehow by miscalculation
things could get out of control. India doesn't want this, Pakistan
doesn't want this, but the danger is there.

But the key thing is how does the international community help India
and Pakistan to do what only India and Pakistan can do, which is to
agree on how they are going to live next to each other in peace.

Q: The right of self-determination is a principle of the United
Nations. Why doesn't the United Nations interfere then and conduct for
example a referendum in Kashmir?

AMB. SCHAFFER: This is an old story. As you may know, the United
Nations in 1948 and 1949 passed resolutions which spelled out detailed
conditions for taking a referendum in Kashmir to determine whether the
state should belong to India or Pakistan. The state of course had a
Muslim majority, but the maharajah, the ruler of Kashmir, had formally
acceded to India at the time of partition, or shortly after partition.

The conditions for holding the referendum were never met. There were
things that Pakistan was supposed to do first which it did not do.
There were things which India might have done to facilitate that which
India did not do. So the failure to hold the referendum in a
fundamental sense has some element of responsibility for both sides.
With the passage of time the Indians took the position that a
referendum was no longer appropriate, that Kashmir had joined India,
and that several elections had been held there.

Now, many people would argue, and I would agree, that those were bad
elections. But in fact after three wars had been fought between India
and Pakistan, two of them specifically dealing with Kashmir, it is
very difficult for me to see how one can turn the clock back to 50
years. India and Pakistan are very different countries now from what
they were in 1948, and they need to get on with the business of
deciding how they are going to live in peace.

The key question at this point is whether they are prepared to try to
think in terms of a real settlement of their problems, or whether they
will simply continue dealing with one small issue at a time, as they
have done for most of the last 30 years.

Q: Madam Ambassador, how would you assess the visit of Nawaz Sharif to
Washington, especially after he made the declaration stating that the
forces would withdraw from Kashmir immediately following his visit?

AMB. SCHAFFER: Well, the main thing that the U.S. was hoping for, at
least the first steps that the United States was hoping for, was
accomplished, and that was Prime Minister Sharif's decision to pull
out the Pakistan-backed forces and to make it possible for the
fighting to stop. Nawaz Sharif has told the people of Pakistan
publicly that he accomplished Pakistan's goal of getting the U.S. more
interested in solving the Kashmir problem. So in that sense I think
you can say that the visit was successful.

From Pakistan's point of view, however, their involvement in Kargil,
their decision to support this operation and to provoke the worst
fighting in India and Pakistan since their last war ended, I think has
been a very bad mistake for Pakistan, because at this point I think
there is very little international sympathy for Pakistan's view of how
the Kashmir question ought to be settled. I think the world is mainly
concerned about ensuring that fighting does not break out, that
escalation does not take place. And my own feeling is that the West,
the Western Europeans, the United States and Canada and Japan --
people believe that it is not possible to change borders between two
countries that have nuclear arms, and that consequently the settlement
will have to basically keep the same line of control, if there is a
settlement. This is something that would be very difficult for any
Pakistan government to accept. So that from that point of view the
results of the whole Kargil operation I think are very troubling for
Pakistan.

Q: Let us take some questions from our viewers. Bassam (ph) one of our
viewers of ANN Germany, go ahead.

Q: Good evening to everyone in Europe, and good morning for those in
the United States. My question is the following: Europe went about
establishing its own union given its ethnic and religious diversity.
What is the benefit of creating a new country in the Third World,
union in the Third World, given that diversity? Don't you think that
the conflict in Kashmir is for political reasons and it is a conflict
between India and Pakistan, and it is not because they like and love
the people in Kashmir?

AMB. SCHAFFER: Well, I think you raised a very important question. The
decision of creating separate countries of India and Pakistan was made
as the British were leaving and as that area was becoming independent.
It was a very painful decision, particularly for the Hindu majority in
India, which felt that the country was being torn apart. It was a
decision to which the Muslims particularly of northern India were
passionately committed, because they believe that Muslims as the
minority would not be able fully to express their identity in a mostly
Hindu India.

But that decision has been made. I see no advantage to trying to
reverse the decision. India has I think by now come to accept the
legitimacy of Pakistan, although many Pakistanis question it.

But you also ask whether this is basically an India-Pakistan fight,
and whether they care about the people of Kashmir. I think the people
of Kashmir have been the forgotten people in this. I think that it has
been primarily an India-Pakistan fight. But in order to create a
stable situation, the people of Kashmir have to come back into the
process, and they need to have a decent representative political
process, especially in the valley of Kashmir, which is the part of
Kashmir that everyone gets excited about.

As I said before, I do not believe it will be possible to change the
map, but that puts the responsibility on India, which will be very
difficult to create real autonomy and to allow the Kashmiris without
interference to develop a real political process.

MR. KHATIB:  We go one more time to ANN.  Please go ahead.

Q: I would like to go back to the declaration made by Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif where he hinted that he would like to avoid a nuclear
confrontation. Was that said for internal domestic consumption in your
opinion, or was the situation really about to develop into a nuclear
conflict?

AMB. SCHAFFER: I think that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was absolutely
honest in saying he would like to avoid a nuclear confrontation. I do
not believe that either India or Pakistan wants to provoke a nuclear
confrontation; it would be like suicide for both of them.

I felt at the start of the fighting in Kashmir that India and Pakistan
would probably not allow this to escalate, so that I don't think that
a nuclear confrontation was imminent.

The problem is this: if you have intense fighting taking place between
two countries who are deeply suspicious of one another and who have
unresolved bilateral problems, there is always the risk that someone
will misinterpret what the other side is doing, that some politician
will make a blood-curdling speech which will be seen as threatening on
the other side, that some military move will be interpreted by the
other side as threatening their future existence. And in those
circumstances the risk is that one country or the other might make a
decision under pressure in the heat of the situation which could take
them in that direction.

So the need for a more stable peace, if you will, is an effort to
create a kind of insurance policy to improve the chances. Do you sleep
well at night if there is a 20 percent chance of a nuclear war? I
don't particularly. I think you need to improve those odds.

MR. KHATIB: We have another caller from London, one of the ANN
viewers. Please go ahead.

Q: Good morning. What I would like to say is that India, as an
independent country, occupies the territory of Kashmir. The Kashmiri
people are sovereign, independent people -- they are not part of
Pakistan nor India. And India basically stole and took away the
freedom of the Kashmiri people. And only elections would prove that,
and that is why India will not allow for such a thing to take place.
India considers the Muslims as its enemies, while it is well known
that Muslims had governed the Indian sub-continent for a number of
years in the old. Why can't the United States force India to accept
the opinions and beliefs of the Kashmiri people and let them be truly
independent?

AMB. SCHAFFER: I think the situation in history was a bit more
complicated than what you have said. The ruler of Kashmir went through
a legal process that had been established as part of the independence
process for India and Pakistan, and he in fact joined India. Now, he
did not take a vote of the people before he did that. As you probably
know, most of the states in the old undivided India, India and
Pakistan, most of those areas that had been ruled by princes didn't
have elections at that time. That is one of the good things that has
happened in the meantime, that elections have become more widespread
and people have more of an opportunity to express their views.

So I don't accept that India simply stole Kashmir. In fact, Pakistan
tried to reverse this situation by sending in its army in 1948, and
that was the first of the India-Pakistan wars. At the end of that war
India and Pakistan decided basically to stay where they were, with
part of the old state of Kashmir in Pakistani hands and part of it in
Indian hands.

At the end of the 1965 war, that original line was restored, and that
basically is still the line today. For 50 years this has been the
dividing line between India and Pakistan.

Now, you ask a very good question about why the democratic process has
not worked within Kashmir, and you are particularly concerned about
the part of Kashmir that is in Indian hands and the one area, the
valley of Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority. This is a big problem,
and I think it is one of the reasons there has been so much trouble
within Kashmir. The Kashmiri people feel very alienated from India,
and that's why I think it is so important for a genuine political
process to be allowed to develop within the valley of Kashmir.

But, as you know, this kind of thing cannot be forced from the
outside; it has to happen with the support of the government in place
locally. And this is something that has been very difficult for India
to deal with.

MR. KHATIB: The viewer raised also another point, having to do with
the right of self-determination. Does the West use double standards
when it deals with self-determination regarding one region versus
another?

AMB. SCHAFFER: This as you know is a very tricky question, and I know
it's been a tricky question in the Middle East as well. The West is
strongly in support of the principle of self-determination, but there
are some areas where its practice and its meaning becomes very
difficult to be precise about. Does the right of self-determination
attach to whole countries, to parts of countries, to parts of states,
to alienated populations? I don't think it is useful to try to create
a full philosophical explanation of that. I think the important thing
is that India and Pakistan need to find a way to live in peace, which
in my judgment means that the border is not likely to move; but that
as part of this process the Kashmiri people need to have political
self-expression and genuine representation.

I believe -- and this is just my judgment -- that they will need to
come to terms with the fact that most of them will be living within
the Indian union. But if that becomes a friendlier place for them, if
they are able to elect their own leaders without interference, if some
greater ease of contacts between Kashmiris on different sides of that
dividing takes place, then perhaps this is a situation which in the
final analysis will be better than what they have now, which is a very
-- a fairly harsh regime, a deeply alienated population, and a
security situation which puts so many of them at risk and which has
destroyed so many people's dreams.

MR. KHATIB: We go back one more time to ANN in London. Please go ahead
with your question.

Q: Going back to history, the Kashmir issue erupted after the
withdrawal of British troops from the Indian sub-continent. However,
Britain is still involved. Don't you think Britain assumes some
responsibility regarding what can happen in the future in that region?

AMB. SCHAFFER: You know, India and Pakistan have been independent for
over 50 years. I think they need to settle their own differences.
Britain obviously has an historical interest, but basically they are
in the same position as any other outsider who wishes both countries
well, and who has a limited ability to influence the situation.

MR. KHATIB: Well, dear viewers, we are watching a discussion over the
most recent conflict over Kashmir. Please stay with us.

(Announcements.)

MR. KHATIB: Dear viewers, we are watching this program in "Global
Exchange," and the discussion today is the conflict over Kashmir
between India and Pakistan. This program comes to you by satellite
here from Worldnet in Washington.

Madam Ambassador, please let me go back to the issue of
internationalization of the Kashmir conflict. The world, and more
specifically the West, has intervened in a number of hot areas because
those areas had threatened stability in the world. In light of the
nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan, and in light of the
will by both countries to not join the nuclear club, why doesn't the
West, and specifically the United States, interfere, like has happened
in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, or any other areas, in order to
put an end to this conflict?

AMB. SCHAFFER: The key thing in Ireland and in the Middle East was
that all of the parties to the problem were urging the United States
to provide its good offices to facilitate the talks and to help them
along. Between India and Pakistan there is no such agreement, and you
really cannot undertake this kind of role unless both sides are
interested in having you play it.

Q: However, in the case of the Middle East and Northern Ireland the
United States did exert pressures on all parties, or at least provided
some incentives in order to push the warring parties to sit together
and come up with some common ground. Why can't the United States play
a similar role?

AMB. SCHAFFER: I think the United States is well known to be very much
in favor of India and Pakistan settling their differences. And this is
something that U.S. representatives expressed in whatever way was
appropriate. I think India and Pakistan don't disagree with that. But
they just need to find a way back to a serious discussion.

Now, last February when the two prime ministers met in Lahore there
was a great surge of optimism, because it appears that both prime
ministers had made the political decision that they were going to put
their own power, their own prestige and their own political momentum
behind the effort to improve relations. The Indian prime minister, Mr.
Vajpayee, took the first ride on the newly established bush from New
Delhi to Lahore, and this was his entry into Pakistan. He went to the
place where the Muslims of northern India had first formalized the
Pakistan resolution calling for an independent Pakistan, and he said,
"I am coming here to show you that India accepts Pakistan."

Prime Minister Sharif on his part at that time, he held the meeting in
great fanfare, in spite of the objections of some of his political
opposition. He hosted a state dinner in the Lahore fort, which is a
wonderful, grand, Mogul palace from the day when Muslim emperors ruled
all over northern India, and eventually all over most of India. And he
too expressed his determination to improve relations. At that time the
two prime ministers put their power and prestige behind a declaration
which set out an agenda for what they were going to talk about, what
kinds of goals they would seek to accomplish. Unfortunately at this
point, after two months of very intense fighting, it will not be so
easy to put that process back together again. You heard the State
Department spokesman talk about resuming the Lahore process. Well, the
Indian prime minister feels he was betrayed. The Pakistani prime
minister must have been troubled by the way the Kargil adventure
ended, and in any case I think he must realize that he can't simply
resume the dialogue where it was the day Mr. Vajpayee left Lahore.

So in my view the two prime ministers will need to find a new way, a
new basis for giving that political commitment which they had seemed
to give in Lahore, and for giving it credibility. And I am not sure
that this can happen right away, for a lot of reasons, but perhaps the
most important reason that India will be starting its elections on
September 4th. It is a very long election process in India and will
not be concluded until early October. And I believe that the current
prime minister of India will feel that he cannot make major policy
departures of this sort in this pre-election period. That will have to
wait until the election has taken place, and then perhaps Mr. Vajpayee
will be back, or perhaps there will be a new prime minister. But in
any case, at that point it will be important to start looking for a
way of recreating that political commitment.

MR. KHATIB: I would like to go back to the issue of elections.
However, let us take a call from a viewer in Saudi Arabia. Please go
ahead.

Q:     Hello.

MR. KHATIB:  Hello, welcome.

Q: I would like to ask about the problem between Pakistan and India.
What is the main reason behind this conflict in the first place?

MR. KHATIB: Maybe, Madam Ambassador, you could give us a brief
historical overview of the roots of that conflict?

AMB. SCHAFFER: When Britain decided to leave India, the decision was
made that India would be partitioned into two states. The two states
were to become Pakistan and India. Pakistan would consist of the
Muslim majority areas, and these Muslim majority areas were defined by
a special commission that came out from Britain headed by Radcliffe --
it's called the Radcliffe Award, and it consisted of an area of what
had been the northwest of India, which is roughly today's Pakistan,
and an area in the northeast of India, which is today Bangladesh. At
that time the decision was also made that for areas that were ruled by
local princes, and this included Kashmir, the prince would have the
option to join India or to join Pakistan; and, if it did neither of
those things, the princely state would technically become independent.
But there were very strong pressures to make sure all the princes
joined one state or another, and at the end of the day they all did.

Kashmir was the only princely state in which there was a Muslim
majority and a Hindu ruler, and Kashmir was adjacent to both Pakistan
and India. The decision of the maharajah of Kashmir to join India and
the fact that Pakistan was not able to reverse that decision by
military force in 1948, has left Pakistanis feeling for 50 years that
the work of partition was not complete, and that this was a very
unfair outcome.

And this is -- the partition and the Kashmir part of it are really the
root of the conflict. At this point, however, you have a well
developed rivalry between India and Pakistan. They are very different
in size. India at this point is seven times the size of Pakistan by
any measure you might wish to make. The old Pakistan was divided in
two in 1971, as a result of two things: one was the deep alienation of
the Bangladeshi population as eventually came, and the other was
Indian military intervention. So Pakistan felt that it had twice been
done in by the Indians.

This accounts for the very bad feeling between the two. My own view is
that in order to come out of these historical roots and create a
settlement you have to deal really with two issues that are closely
related but are not the same. One is the India-Pakistan relationship
and the other is Kashmir. There are problems in the India-Pakistan
relationship which go beyond Kashmir. Most of them could be relatively
easily solved if the leaders in both countries decided that this was a
real priority. It is the Kashmir issue that is so very difficult to
solve for all the reasons that we have been talking about.

MR. KHATIB: Let us take another call from Samir in Jordan. Please go
ahead.

Q: Hello. I have two questions. The first question: Which side does
the United States support? Second question: Let us suppose in the
future there would be a nuclear conflict between both countries. Which
side will the United States support?

MR. KHATIB:  We will try to answer briefly.

AMB. SCHAFFER: On the first question, the United States has always
tried to avoid taking sides in this dispute. We have a long-standing
relationship with Pakistan. We had very important military ties with
Pakistan in the 1950s and 1960s. We worked extraordinarily closely
with Pakistan on the Afghanistan problem in the 1980s. At the same
time, we have very important relationships with India. They have not
had as much of a military dimension as the Pakistan relationship has,
but there has been a very important economic and scientific dimension.
And the U.S. goal has always been to maintain good relations with both
countries, not to try to choose between them.

And as far as your second question, on whose side would we be in case
of a nuclear war, the U.S. position is to do all possible to avoid
having a nuclear war erupt in the first place, and to improve the
chances that India and Pakistan will not even get close to that point.
So in that sense I think you can say that we are profoundly on both
countries' side.

Q: Briefly, how does the United States see the concept of an Islamic
nuclear bomb?

AMB. SCHAFFER: The United States, as you know, has very much opposed
the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the five nuclear weapons states
recognized by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And the United
States government took fairly severe action against both India and
Pakistan after they exploded their nuclear tests. And so I think any
other country that develops this capability would find itself strongly
opposed by the United States. It's not a question of what religion the
bomb has -- I find the bomb a pretty unreligious thing to begin with.

MR. KHATIB: Let us go ahead to another caller -- from Holland --
please go ahead. Hello, welcome.

Q: My question to the ambassador has to do with the right to
self-determination. This principle in reality is only ink on paper at
the United Nations. Don't you think that changes are necessary at the
United Nations level in order to truly respect the right to
self-determination for a people who would like to do so while other
countries are democratic? Let me give you an example: With exception
-- in addition to Kashmir, take a look at Kurdistan and Turkey, and
Kurdistan in Iraq and Kurdistan in Iran? And thank you.

AMB. SCHAFFER: I think that you have raised a very difficult problem.
I personally do not believe that the world would be a better and safer
place if one withdrew the map of the world along ethnic lines. First
of all, I think that's an impossible task. People do not live in nice,
neat compartments. You have mixed populations. You have countries
which have grown up over the years, in some cases over hundreds of
years, which include minorities.

I think that the important thing is that people in all countries have
the opportunity to participate in the political process, to shape
their own future, to shape their own economic future. This has to
apply to people if their own group is the majority or if it's the
minority, of if they are more or less equal populations. And to me
that is the most important meaning of democracy, and that it seems to
me is where the accent ought to be placed.

MR. KHATIB: And, Madam Ambassador, let me go back once again to the
issue of Indian elections that you had talked about earlier before the
call. There will be elections about two months from now, in September.
Based on what we have heard, the new reports we have received, it
seems that the ruling coalition has benefited somewhat from the way it
has treated the current crisis in Kashmir. Do you expect that this
issue, meaning the conflict, is going to be a critical issue on the
minds of the electors in September? Do you think they will give it a
lot of importance when they go to vote, or will they be focusing
mainly on domestic issues and the economic conditions in the country
as being more important in that election?

AMB. SCHAFFER: India is a big and very complicated question. They will
be focusing on all of those things. Certainly the way that the
Vajpayee government handled the fighting in Kashmir and the aftermath
of the fighting in Kashmir will be an election issue. In fact, I am
not sure that the Congress Party and the other opponents will be able
to make any very effective attacks on them, but I am sure they will
criticize the government that they did not know in advance that the
infiltration was taking place.

But there will also be so many other issues -- national issues like
economic policy, and also very importantly local issues. And in
looking at the Indian elections, one of the key things has nothing to
do with Kashmir, but it is going to be the relationship between the
big National Party and smaller parties that exist in only one or two
states whose purpose is to advance local issues. And the alliances
among these local parties and between the national parties and local
parties are going to be very important in deciding what the outcome of
the election will be.

Q: What will the -- (inaudible) -- the Congress Party headed by
Gandhi, how will it look at this issue? Is that considered an
important issue for her party in these coming elections?

AMB. SCHAFFER: You're talking about the issue of Kashmir? Yes, that's
an important issue for everyone. Now Congress ruled India for most of
India's independent existence, so that Congress has been the party
that shaped India's policies during most of this time. Mrs. Gandhi's
husband's grandfather was the first prime minister of India, and was
prime minister at the time of the first Kashmir war. Mrs. Gandhi's
mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi, was the prime minister at the time the
1971 war concluded, which was the last time that India and Pakistan
reached a kind of peace agreement.

I think that they will want to demonstrate that they are strongly
patriotic, and they will particularly want to show that Mrs. Gandhi's
Italian origins, because you know she was born in Italy and then she
married Rajiv Gandhi and moved to India as a young woman -- but they
will want to prove that Mrs. Gandhi's Italian origins do not make her
any less vigorous in defense of the nation.

On the other hand, traditionally the present ruling party, known as
the BJP, which translates into English roughly as the Indian National
Party -- they have always been much harder line on issues of relations
with Pakistan. So in the past the Congress considered much more likely
to make peace than the BJP. I am not sure that is still true. I
believe in fact that governments are going to be pushed more by
national than by party considerations. And so I do not assume that the
Congress will have an easier time making peace with Pakistan than the
BJP.

MR. KHATIB: And if we take the other aspect of the conflict and go to
Pakistan, there are many parties within Pakistan that look at Nawaz
Sharif and consider him to basically have bent to pressures from the
United States. How do you see the political future of Nawaz Sharif
internally after having accepted this compromised middle-ground
solution?

AMB. SCHAFFER: A very interesting question. At one level Nawaz Sharif
is very secure. He has a more than two-thirds majority in the
parliament. The Constitution was amended early in his time so that the
president can no longer dissolve parliament and remove the government.
The president has very little power. He arranged the installation of a
president who is very much in accord with his own views. He forced out
the chief of army staff after the chief of army staff made a speech
which displeased him. The Supreme Court chief justice was also forced
out under somewhat similar circumstances. So that Nawaz Sharif has in
his hands really all the constitutional levers. He was elected in the
early part of 1997, so he still has plenty of time to go in his term.
He faces a different kind of problem. The issue you raised is part of
it. I am sure there is great unhappiness among the more
Islamic-oriented parties and among the groups that have sent young men
to fight in Afghanistan, and have sent young men across the border
into Indian-held Kashmir. And these are not people who necessarily
work through constitutional means. They have protested in the streets,
though the protests have been under pretty good control. But this is a
constituency that Nawaz Sharif has always been very careful of.

I ask myself -- and I don't know the answer yet -- how will he now
take care of his constituencies? Will he find it necessary to become
more hard line on India issues? Will he find some other way of making
them happy?

The second problem he has, which I think is a much more important one,
is that even though the government is very secure the country of
Pakistan has very serious problems. And I will mention three. One is
their economy is in very difficult shape. The tax collections are not
keeping pace with government spending. The balance of payments is in
very bad shape. They have borrowed a great deal of money and can't
repay it without international help. And this year the cotton crop is
bad.

A second big problem is that the relationship between the biggest
province, Punjab and the other provinces have become very much worst
in recent years, and so there is a sense that Pakistan is not pulling
together as much as it used to, and that there are serious problems
between the center and the provinces.

And a third problem, I think that most of the big institutions in
Pakistan are not working as well as they used to. The civil service,
the tax collection authority, most of the provincial governments --
and I think there is an exception there for Punjab -- they are all
very much weaker than they used to be. This had been one of the
strengths of Pakistan; it is now a problem area. So whoever is
governing Pakistan has a huge job to do to keep the country together
and try to resume the kind of economic development which they did
quite well in their early years of independence, but which has slipped
very badly in the past 10 years.

MR. KHATIB: Madam Ambassador, with the minute or two that we have left
in this program, let us talk a little bit about the fighting factions
in Kashmir. Quite often we put all of these factions, classify them
all as one, while in reality there is a variety of factions and they
may differ among themselves regarding the conflict itself in Kashmir.
To what extent there is compatibility among the various warring
factions when it comes to the withdrawal from the Indian part of
Kashmir?

AMB. SCHAFFER: A very interesting question. I think you can
distinguish two principal groups of factions. There is the
Pakistan-oriented and Pakistan-supported groups and there are
pro-independent groups. Many of the Pakistan-supported groups are
strongly religious in orientation as are some of the pro-independent
groups. I think they are all united in being very much alienated from
India and opposed to Indian rule in the valley, opposed particularly
to the kind of Indian rule they have experienced in recent years, with
a very heavy security presence.

The real question is: Is there a Kashmiri civil majority out there?
These are by and large small groups that have got started as guerrilla
organizations. They have not participated in the political process.
The biggest group that looks on itself as a political organization is
called the Harekat (ph), has refused to participate in elections,
principally because they have no faith in the election process. But by
refusing to participate they have also deprived themselves of the
opportunity to gain electoral legitimacy. And I think it's very
important that Kashmir develop some political leaders. In the past and
in other places political leadership has sometimes come from guerrilla
leaders who have joined the political process, and it sometimes
developed separately. But whichever routes they choose, I think that
the Kashmiris who live there, who live in the valley, who live in
Kashmir, who are committed to this area as their home, need to develop
a real political leadership.

MR. KHATIB: Madam Ambassador, thank you very much. Unfortunately we
have run out of time. We would like to thank our guest Ambassador
Teresita Schaffer for joining us today on the conflict in Kashmir.
Also we would like to thank all of our broadcasters who called us and
all the viewers who called with their questions for this edition of
"Global Exchange." I'm Mohanned Khatib.

(end transcript)