India-Pakistan: October 17, 1999

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General Pervez Musharraf, the new military leader of Pakistan, surprised India by offering to hold peace talks in order to achieve a "military de-escalation" between India and Pakistan. This came as a surprise to all concerned, as Musharraf had a reputation as a risk taker and someone cozy with the Islamic fundamentalists within Pakistan. He had also served as a commando in Kashmir early in his career. Then again, he did not become head of the armed forces without being flexible and innovative. But India has insisted that Pakistan stop it's cross border raids into Kashmir before talks can begin. Musharraf  has also pleased Pakistanis by instigating investigating government officials for corruption. There's a lot of that in Pakistan, everyone knows about and, until now, no one did much about it. Although there has been corruption in the military, it was mild compared to the rampant plundering by civilian politicians and government officials. It remains to be seen if Musharraf can deliver on his peace and and anti-corruption initiatives. Moreover, he has promised to restore democratic rule, but refuses to say when. In Kashmir, Moslem militants threw a grenade at an Indian troop convoy, missed and injured 22 civilians waiting at a crowded bus stop.

October 16; Pakistani Islamic militants vowed that they would prevent any attempt to arrest Osama Bin Laden if he chose to move to Pakistan. The US has imposed sanctions on Pakistan until democratic rule is restored. This involves only a few million dollars in aid. More worrisome to Pakistan is the suspension of aid from European nations and international institutions like the World Bank. Pakistan's economy has been a mess for some time and all that foreign aid is what keeps the economy moving at all. 

October 15; In Kashmir, two Indian soldiers and a civilian were killed by a terrorist bomb. Three soldiers and three civilians were injured.

 

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