India-Pakistan: June 11, 2002

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Even though border tensions between Pakistan and India seem to be cooling off ahead of a visit to the region by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the situation has not been completely defused. A helpful move was India's promise to allow commercial aircraft from Pakistan to resume flights over Indian air space.

While British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told the House of Commons on 10 June that India's navy was moving warships back to port now that both sides had taken the "first steps in the right direction", Indian navy spokesman Commander Rahul Gupta countered that the five warships were not being sent back to India's eastern waters. According to comments from India's junior foreign minister Omar Abdullah published on 10 June, Delhi is likely to keep its troops deployed on the Pakistan border until October (when elections will be held in Jammu and Kashmir). 

There is also the risk that another guerrilla attack could prompt India to react. Based on radio intercepts, a senior Indian intelligence official said there is no indication the pro-Pakistani militants are any less active on the ground than previously. Radio communication between militants operating in the Kashmir Valley and Pakistani groups died down for several days in late May and early June but resumed at a greater volume. 

An unnamed Indian intelligence officer told the press that he and others thought at first the falloff was linked to a speech by Musharraf promising a crackdown on the militants, but now believe the lull was caused by bad weather in the mountains on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control. Some militant groups have radio repeater stations at altitudes of 14,000 to 15,000 feet, where storms and lightning strikes can hamper transmissions.

Meanwhile Hezb-ul Mujahedeen, a prominent Kashmiri guerrilla group, vowed to press ahead with the armed struggle against India, despite Pakistan's pledge that it would keep the insurgents from crossing the border to launch attacks. This group is just one of an alliance of 15 militant organizations -the Muttahida Jihad Council, or the United Jihad Council. Fighters from all of them are now forced to travel in groups of 10 or 12, rather than the usual 25 or 30. - Adam Geibel

 

The cross border shelling remains heavy, with at least seven killed on the Pakistani side today.

Pakistani border guards have seized 2.5 tons of Afghan opium, in the last few days, along the Iranian border. As large as this is, the UN estimates that Afghanistan 

 

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