India-Pakistan: January 15, 2004

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India says infiltrations into Kashmir from Pakistan are way down, but won't say by how much. But in the last six months, Indian troops intercepted 93 groups of infiltrators, killing 300 of them. In the last year, India has reorganized it's border protection force in Kashmir. New equipment (motion detectors and night vision gear), fences and more troops deployed more effectively. President Musharraf of Pakistan has admitted that he cannot completely control the Islamic militant groups in Pakistani Kashmir. What he means is that the thousands of armed Islamic militants in Pakistani Kashmir would require a major military operation to suppress. And Pakistani politics is such that you cannot get the army to take on all other Islamic militants in Kashmir without risking a mutiny.

The Indian army believes there are 2,500-3,000 rebels in Kashmir and that two-thirds of them are foreigners (mostly Pakistanis). Most of the rebels are living in camps in rural parts of Kashmir, but over a third live among the majority Moslem population of Kashmir. Because of this, there are daily battles with rebels and Indian police and soldiers. But the ceasefire, which began last November 26, is largely holding and this is keeping the death rate down.

Official peace talks between India and Pakistan are to begin in India on January 22nd. The major issue will be Kashmir and both sides say they are willing to make concessions and cut a deal. The violence is costing each nation billions of dollars a year in extra defense expenses, plus lives lost. And Pakistan is suffering a political cost because of the popularity of Islamic radicals (who lead the fighting against Indians in Kashmir.) 

 

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