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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

MARCH 31, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 12

Start Talking
Bill Clinton's message to India and Pakistan
By ANTHONY DAVIS New Delhi and Islamabad


COVER: Seismic Changes
Can president-elect Chen Shui-bian meet the historic challenges posed by a changing Taiwan - and by China?
The Challenge: Now comes the hard part
Reality Check: Beijing will have to deal with the new Taiwan
Profile: Chen's split personality

Editorial: Taiwan and China have reason aplenty to make peace
Editorial: Asia needs new policies to combat prostitution

South Asia: Clinton to India and Pakistan - Start Talking
'Limited War': Don't let the term fool you
Philippines: Sister Christine vs. Estrada - yet another scandal
Extended Interview: Salamat Hashim calls for independence
Myanmar: Behind the secret "Chilston" meetings
Inside Story: Asia's "Insiders" - four people who have blown the whistle on wrongdoing
Viewpoint: A Malaysian race for Islamization?

People: Sumo's big brother calls it quits
Heritage: The struggle to save Penang's old George Town
Art: Digital works blur the line between tech and expression
Books: Why healthcare was so bad in Suharto's Indonesia
Health: Noni - The craze over a smelly green fruit
Newsmakers: Thai "List of Shame" riles the privileged

Games: Microsoft's X-factor
Computing: IBM's Deep Blue man is now into e-commerce
Cutting Edge: An e-book horror story

Bankruptcy: The court-ordered restructuring of TPI suggests Thailand is coming to grips with deadbeat borrowers
Room to Improve: Inadequate laws in Indonesia and Korea
No Hype: Can Singapore's Pacific Internet regain investor favor?
Renong: The Malaysian conglomerate sells off key assets
Business Buzz: A deal to lift Singapore's spirits

Investing: How rising U.S. interest rates will affect Asia

The timing was perfect, perhaps too perfect. Just hours before U.S. President Bill Clinton began his March 21 official visit to India, a group of gunmen in Indian commando fatigues descended on a mainly Sikh village in Kashmir. They pulled some 35 men out of their homes, and shot them all dead. New Delhi blamed Pakistan-based militants for the executions, saying that the perpetrators masqueraded as Indian soldiers to gain easy entry into the village. Said Clinton's host, Indian Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee: "The entire civilized community is outraged at this premeditated act of barbarism." But Islamabad also condemned the massacre, while the main insurgent groups denied responsibility and claimed Indian security forces committed the atrocity to cast the separatist movement in a bad light. "The killings were probably intended to call attention to the volatile situation in Kashmir during [Clinton's presence]," said Amnesty International. "Once more, human beings are being killed to score political points."

So who gained - New Delhi or Islamabad? Clinton denounced the latest outbreak of violence but pointedly stopped short of fingering Pakistan, as India has. Instead, he called for "renewed lines of communication" between the antagonistic neighbors. But he added: "You cannot expect a dialogue to go forward unless there is an absence of violence and a respect for the Line of Control." (The LOC is the ceasefire line dividing India's Jammu and Kashmir state from Pakistan-administered "Azad Kashmir.") The Indians read Clinton's words as clearly sympathetic to them, not least because the last time the LOC was severely breached was last summer around the mountainous terrain overlooking Kargil (see map below). It's now widely acknowledged that Pakistan-backed militants as well as some Pakistani army regulars, were behind that prolonged incursion.

On March 22 Clinton addressed the Indian Parliament and reiterated his call for dialogue: "Only India and Pakistan can work out the problems between them." He added: "I share many of the [Indian] government's concerns about the course Pakistan is taking. It is difficult to be a democracy bordered by nations whose governments reject democracy." Raj Mohan of India's National Security Agency reckons a fundamental shift in Washington's position has occurred. "[Clinton's] insistence that military force cannot alter borders represents a setback to Pakistan," he says.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stressed that no such shift had taken place. Washington's effort to try to stay neutral is not surprising. For years the U.S. has been a staunch ally of Pakistan. This was especially so during the Cold War, when India cosied up to the Soviet Union in part to counter the friendship between Washington and Islamabad. Now Clinton wants to play honest broker, so he has to be perceived as not taking sides. After five days in India (which followed a brief visit to Bangladesh), Clinton was due to spend several hours in Islamabad with military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Clinton said he would give Musharraf the same message of restraint and dialogue.

Still, it was clear that Clinton wanted very much to make up to New Delhi for the years of U.S. neglect of India (the last American president to visit was Jimmy Carter in 1978). He got nowhere on trying to persuade the Indians to commit to a nuclear test ban, but he was otherwise upbeat. "We have a lot of mutual interests," he said, "a lot of things we can do together." Like business. In an article in the Los Angeles Times on the eve of his South Asian tour, Clinton noted: "India's economy is one of the 10 fastest-growing in the world, its thriving high-technology sector one of the brightest spots in the new global economy." By the end of Clinton's stay in India, several bilateral commercial agreements were expected to be signed. But, for New Delhi, perhaps the most significant result of Clinton's visit was simply that, finally, the U.S. is taking India seriously.

With reporting by Sanjay Kapoor/New Delhi

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