India-Pakistan: December 29, 2001

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Firing across the line of control left a Pakistani civilian dead. Civilians continue to flee the border area in both nations. While there is a lot of war fever in the media, the troop movements are more for headlines than a real offensive. The US and Britain are trying to work out a deal between India and Pakistan to enable Pakistan to crack down on radical groups sufficiently (without triggering internal unrest) to placate India. Without their bases in Pakistan, and open support from Pakistani troops on the border, the Kashmiri rebels would not last long. "Abandoning Kashmir" is a hot issue in Pakistan and cracking down on the radicals without appearing to be giving up claims to Kashmir is the main problem. Expect to see some inventive diplomacy on this point over the next few weeks. Much of the action will be via cable television, and Pakistan is at a disadvantage here. Pakistan has officially banned distribution of Indian channels broadcast from satellites. But most cable operations are illegal and the Indian channels are very popular (for their entertainment content.) Those Indian channels also carry news, which often reports events differently than the Pakistani government would prefer. English speakers in both nations also have access to British and US news feeds.  

One reason Pakistan does not want to move its troops from the Afghan border is because many terrorist and warlord operations are moving out of Afghanistan to escape US bombs. Pakistani troops today seized one such arms cache (124 assault rifles, 248 rifles, two mortars plus ammo and rockets). The Pakistani also know that al Qaeda has links to the Kasmiri rebels, who basically consider themselves Islamic radicals. 

 

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