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DATE=8/13/1999 TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=INDIA AND PAKISTAN ON THE BRINK? NUMBER=6-11424 BYLINE=ANDREW GUTHRIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-3335 CONTENT= INTRO: The shooting down by an Indian air force jet fighter of a Pakistani surveillance plane and the death of all 16 people aboard this week has dramatically increased tension on the sub-continent. The U-S press has been quick to caution the two long- time enemies not to allow themselves to be drawn into a nuclear war. We get a sampling now from ___________ in today's U-S Opinion Roundup. TEXT: Several months ago, the two nations traded artillery shells and diplomatic charges, after a group of Islamic irregular troops crossed into Indian- controlled territory in the troubled province of Jammu and Kashmir. After weeks of intense diplomatic pressure, the irregulars withdrew, and relations appeared to be improving. The shooting down of the plane, which both countries are claiming was in the other's air space, has again raised the terrifying specter of a nuclear war on the sub-continent. We begin our sampling in the nation's capitol where "Sliding Toward Nuclear War" is the headline over a The Washington Post lead editorial. VOICE: The latest shootings on the India-Pakistan border signify big trouble. They suggest that last month's cooling of war threats exchanged by the two countries is transient and unstable. Worse, they suggest that the two consider the threat of another, fourth war-which in their new circumstances could well be nuclear-a plausible line of policy. . The new Indian-Pakistani aerial bumps on the border, not to speak of the continuing violence in Indian-held Kashmir and the near-permanent fighting on a high Himalayan glacier, are all part of a confrontation that issued from the birth of India and Pakistan as post-colonial states some 50 years ago. .. That both governments have prideful and professionally able militaries sharpens their sense that they can keep things under control. .. [But] Here is where the danger lies. India and Pakistan are in the grip -the loose grip-of politicians who seem unable to grasp their duty to their electorates and, as well, to the foreign populations that would suffer from the overflow of a nuclear exchange. . India and Pakistan cannot be forced to be responsible. But they can be called on in all available forums to answer why they are sliding toward nuclear war. TEXT: Echoes the Los Angeles Times: VOICE: This week's downing of a Pakistani reconnaissance plane by an Indian fighter jet, killing all 16 crewmen, escalates the ominous tension between two neighbors that have fought three wars in half a century. What makes the situation far more dangerous now is that both countries tested nuclear weapons 15 months ago. There is little room for misjudgment. . Countries like China, Russia, Japan and the United States need to exercise their influence, stressing to Islamabad and New Delhi the unthinkability of nuclear weapon use. TEXT: And in Baltimore, Maryland, The Sun has some specifics about why neither side should want this war. VOICE: Never was the need for a comprehensive settlement of disputes between India and Pakistan more apparent than in the air warfare over their border.. For more than 50 years, the ruling and military elites of both countries have doubted the legitimacy of the other, though outbreaks of peacemaking have occurred during thoughtful prime ministries. The friction involves more than Jammu and Kashmir .. . Pakistan should not want to fight any version of this war. It is geographically vulnerable . and. Its sole commercial port, Karachi, is just north of the current tension and easily blockaded. India should not want this war, either, for fear of civil strife and rebellion. It has more important uses for its exchequer. TEXT: That concludes this early sampling of opinion on the latest tension-inducing incident between India and Pakistan. NEB/ANG/JO 13-Aug-1999 15:28 PM EDT (13-Aug-1999 1928 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .