India-Pakistan: The Earthquakes Changed Kashmiri Politics

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October 25, 2005:   Some 1,400 people died in Indian Kashmir, because of the recent quakes, and over 140,000 were made homeless. Across the border in Pakistani Kashmir, where the earthquake originated, over 50,000 died, over 70,000 were seriously injured and over three million are homeless. The American relief effort has involved thousands of troops, several dozen helicopters, plus navy ships carrying relief aid and military equipment for rescue and reconstruction work. The U.S. noted the large amount of good will generated in Moslem Indonesia because of vigorous American relief efforts last year after the Indonesian earthquake and tidal wave, and is apparently out to repeat that process in Pakistan. The scope of the disaster has caused the Pakistanis to toss aside most political considerations and accept aid from anyone (including India and Israel). The quakes have had more impact on the military and political situation in Kashmir than any diplomacy or military efforts in the last several decades.

In India, three Maoist rebels were killed when they fought with a police patrol in the southeast.

October 24, 2005:  Al Qaeda released a video tape that urged all Moslems, especially those who supported al Qaeda, to rush aid to Pakistani earthquake victims. Otherwise, the rescue effort will be seen as dominated by infidels (non-Moslems), and al Qaeda will lose influence in the area. This same pattern was noted, with much embarrassment and bad publicity, during relief efforts in Indonesia, after the earthquakes and tidal waves in Indonesia. 

October 23, 2005:  Pakistan has accepted a NATO offer of earthquake aid, which will result in troops and equipment from a dozen or more NATO countries pouring into Pakistan. This effort will largely be aimed at reconstruction, and many of the troops will be engineers. 

In southeast India, Maoist rebels have offered a reward of $4,500 for each policeman killed. This was in retaliation for police announcing lower rewards for the capture of key Maoist leaders. 

October 22, 2005:  The 580 kilometer Indian security fence along the Line of Control was largely undamaged by the earthquake, although about a hundred Indian soldiers died. The Indian army quickly sent troops to assist civilians living along the Line of Control, including those on the Pakistani side. Pakistan, however, would not allow Indian helicopters to cross the border. India set up three relief centers along the border, for the homeless. Pakistan and India have also agreed to let civilians cross the Line of Control, to expedite relief efforts, even though this might allow Islamic terrorists to cross as well.

October 19, 2005:  In southeast India, Maoist rebel factions are fighting each other over control of territory, and disagreements about how to deal with the increasing hostility of  local tribes to the Maoist cause.

 

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