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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story


Because diplomacy over Kashmir is not working

By Ajay Singh

EVEN BEFORE PAKISTAN FOREIGN Minister Sartaj Aziz set foot in New Delhi, it was clear his one-day mission for peace in Kashmir was doomed. Two days before his June 12 arrival from Islamabad, Pakistan handed over to India the bodies of a young Indian infantry lieutenant and his five men. They had been killed in Kashmir, where Indian troops are locked in a fierce battle with hundreds of armed infiltrators along the Line of Control (LOC) that divides the disputed Himalayan region between the two nations. New Delhi says the six soldiers had been brutally tortured before being killed in cold blood. The alleged incident was one of the two issues Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh proposed to take up during his talks with Aziz - the other being the intrusion from Pakistan. "The entire nation is outraged by the savage treatment of our soldiers," said Singh, shortly after a frosty two-hour closed-door meeting with Aziz.

Aziz promptly dubbed the Indian allegation of torture an overreaction. (He also denied Pakistan is behind the intrusion in Kashmir.) But the charge set the tone for his talks with Singh, which ended in a deadlock. The following day, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee sounded a battle cry. Visiting troops in the mountainous battle-zone of Kargil, he said that while India wants peace, "we should keep ourselves prepared for war." As he spoke, Indian tanks and artillery were massing at points near the stretch of India's regular western border with Pakistan - far from the fighting in Kargil. Across the border, Pakistan put its troops on full battle alert. Says a reporter in Islamabad: "We are waiting for war."

India has been only partially successful in dislodging what the international community now widely accepts are Pakistan-backed forces. Despite relentless air strikes, they continue to occupy high-altitude strategic points in the snow-packed mountains of Kargil and adjoining areas. Indian military planners feel the only practical solution is to mount a swift, surgical strike across the LOC that would both encircle the intruders and cut off their supply routes.

Fearing that the Indian plans could escalate into a wider - possibly nuclear - conflict, U.S. President Bill Clinton made a telephone appeal to Vajpayee on June 14. Clinton asked that India "continue to exercise restraint," and settle the Kargil crisis bilaterally through direct talks. The next day, Clinton called Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif and said he should withdraw the Pakistan-backed forces in Indian-administered Kashmir. Earlier, in a harsh letter to Sharif, Clinton had asked that Pakistan respect the 780-km LOC.

As far as the Kargil clashes are concerned, the U.S. is clearly backing India - to Islamabad's considerable chagrin. On the day of the Aziz-Singh talks, New Delhi said it had tapes of telephone conversations between Pakistan army chief Pervez Musharraf and his chief of general staff Lt.-Gen. Mohammad Aziz, showing their troops were behind the Kargil incursion. According to Indian intelligence sources, New Delhi got the tapes from the CIA. (Islamabad dismissed the recording as "hogwash.") It is this sort of American "tilt" that prompted Aziz to dash off to Beijing a day before flying to New Delhi. His talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan appeared aimed at gauging the support Pakistan can expect from China.

Singh also visited China on a scheduled bilateral visit. Beijing is understood to have told both Islamabad and New Delhi to settle the Kargil conflict peacefully. But clearly, both China and the U.S. will have to do much more to ensure that outcome.

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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