India-Pakistan: March 1, 2004

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Despite the peace talks between India and Pakistan, the fighting continues in Kashmir. Even if Pakistan agrees to withdraw support from the Kashmiri rebels, it will be difficult to shut down the Islamic radicals that support the rebels. Pakistan has an interest in suppressing the Islamic radicals throughout the country. But in some provinces, the Islamic radicals are very popular and trying to crack down would risk civil war. Moreover, past attempts have met with successful passive resistance. An effort to force the religious schools (madrassas) run by the Islamic radicals were only partially successful. These schools teach a conservative brand of Islam and instill in their students the importance of fighting and killing those who are not Moslems. These kids ended up supporting the Taliban (and many still do) and the fight to drive non-Moslems out of Kashmir. Several of the more radical rebel groups in Kashmir have already told Pakistan that they will not respect any peace deal hammered out between India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri population. When you are on a mission from God, agreements and votes by mere mortals counts for little. But Pakistan has found that it can no longer ignore the Islamic radicals within the country who are fighting each others (over religious differences) and Pakistanis who are not Moslem (including foreigners doing business in the country and tourists.) The majority of the Pakistani population doesn't want to make war on the non-Moslem world, but the Islamic radicals do. So the Pakistani government is being forced to act, even as they fear the reaction, and results. 

 

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