India-Pakistan: February 23, 2004

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India and Pakistan have agreed to negotiate over all their current disputes. The most difficult will be who will control Kashmir. India has about half a million police and troops in Kashmir, fighting several thousand armed  rebels, most of them trained in Pakistani camps. Pakistan is now willing to admit that the training camps exist. But shutting down the camps would trigger violence in Pakistan by Islamic radicals. The fighting in Kashmir has become a struggle between radical Islam and the non-Moslem world. But with both Pakistan and India armed with nuclear weapons, any escalation of the fighting in Kashmir could lead to nuclear war and massive damage to the two countries. Pakistan is no longer willing to risk this. In the past, Pakistan was only risking conventional war. But by strenuously denying support for the Kashmiri rebels, war with India was avoided. But that game has become too dangerous with nuclear weapons involved. A conventional war might amount to no more than a border skirmish (and that has happened more than once.) But once you start tossing nukes around, there's nothing minor about it. But now Pakistan has to decide which option is more dangerous; enraged Islamic radicals or possible nuclear war. Any settlement of the Kashmir dispute will risk the former while avoiding the latter. 

 

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