India-Pakistan: October 16, 2001

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Pakistani president Musharraf has pledged to back US efforts in Afghanistan for as long as it takes. Musharraf has cracked down protests against American Afghan operations. Most of the protests have been by Islamic fundamentalists and pro-Taliban Pushtuns in the north. Musharraf started cracking down on Islamic fundamentalists last Summer. The US congress has lifted all sanctions against Pakistan (mainly for Pakistan's nuclear weapons program) and is giving Pakistan over $600 million in aid (plus rescheduling old debt.) The former Afghan king is working with Pakistan to form new political alliances in Afghanistan that would result in a new, non-Taliban, government. This new government would probably contain some Taliban factions, but would be very anti-bin Laden. The new coalition would have to include the Northern Alliance and Pushtun tribes in the south. Inside Indian Kashmir, rebels threw a grenade near the provincial legislature, wounding fifteen people. Elsewhere in Kashmir, 15 rebels, an Indian soldier and five civilians were killed. Kashmiri rebels have denounced bin Laden and his organization and want nothing to do with that sort of terrorism.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Pakistan to seek a solution to the dispute with India over Kashmir. In 1947, when the British were preparing to leave India (then including Pakistan and Bangladesh), the plan was for each province to decide which country to join. The nobles ruling each province were to consult with their population before deciding. This worked everywhere, except in Kashmir, where a Hindu maharajah decided to join India, even though the majority of the population was Moslem (and many wanted to join Pakistan.) There was fighting, which the UN meditated a  cease fore for. The UN got an agreement to hold a vote so the population could decide which nation to join. The vote was never held (although many Moslems were not keen on joining Pakistan (and a third of the population was not Moslem.) In 1988, Pakistan began supporting armed rebels, based in Pakistan, to attack Indian police and soldiers in Kashmir. Over 35,000 people have died in the subsequent violence and Kashmir has become a major issue between India and Pakistan. For politicians in both nations, backing off on Kashmir is seen as political suicide. 

 

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