India-Pakistan: December 19, 2001

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Pakistan is moving more combat units to the Indian border. Pakistani officials warned India against air raids against Kashmiri terrorist camps in Pakistan, or pursuing these terrorists from Kashmir into Pakistan. There was a lot of artillery and machine-gun fire across the Line of Control in Pakistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan president Musharraf visits China, to remind everyone that China and Pakistan have long been allies. China and India have a much less cordial relationship, made worse by an ongoing dispute over exactly where their common border is. All three nations have nuclear weapons. India's major ally, however, is Russia, which has good relations with China and improving relations with Pakistan. Russia would be eager to broker a peace deal between Pakistan and India (if only for the prestige, plus the possible business opportunities.) Pakistan publicly denies that it supports the Kashmiri rebels and terrorists, but it's an open secret that the Pakistani government tolerate the camps. But at the same time, the government has been cracking down on radical groups since last Summer. The dispute is a very sensitive one with voters and politicians in both nations. Pakistan could continue to crack down on government and public support for the Kashmiri rebel groups, but there would then be the possibility of public, sometimes violent, opposition to this sort of thing. But if something is not done on the Pakistan side, the pressure in India to "do something" could lead to air or ground operations in Pakistan by Indian forces. This risks escalation into a nuclear war. Meanwhile, at least 15 people were killed (seven al Qaeda members and eight Pakistani soldiers) when several dozen al Qaeda, captured while crossing over from Afghanistan) attacked their guards, seized some weapons and made off in some vehicles. Pakistani troops are in pursuit. Several hundred al Qaeda and Taliban fighters have crossed into Pakistan in the last few days. The Pakistan army, police and tribal militias are hunting them down. After today's gun battle with al Qaeda prisoners, it's likely fewer al Qaeda and Taliban fighters will be taken alive. In Kashmir, three Pakistani civilians were injured by Indian shell fire across the Line of Control. Inside Indian Kashmir, several clashes left 13 rebels dead. 

 

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