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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Fight Over Kashmir Both Political and Religious

Aired October 16, 2001 - 05:07   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Well as you know Secretary of State Colin Powell is now in Pakistan, but his next stop is going to be in India. We want to talk now about just how important this trip to the region is and more about this Kashmiri tight rope that he's going to be walking.

South Asia Analyst Kailash Budhwar joins us. He is in our London bureau this morning, and we thank you very much for your time this morning sir.

Kailash BUDHWAR, SOUTH ASIA ANALYST: You're welcome.

HARRIS: Let me first of all begin with the issue of Kashmir. We see and we have heard the both sides of this issues - both India and Pakistan are planning on using their support for this U.S. war against terrorism to get the U.S. to join its side in the battles over Kashmir.

What do you make of this tightrope, as we say, that Secretary Powell is going to have to walk on this issue?

BUDHWAR:: Kashmir is the touchstone of both India and Pakistan's mutual obsession. Pakistan wants Kashmir to secede from India only for one reason, that there is a larger majority of Muslims in the Kashmir valley (ph). Kashmir has several other regions.

And India regards it that Kashmir itself would prove whether India is a sovereign (ph) country or not. Now fight has been going on between terrorists and common people and government of Kashmir for last 12 years or so whereby 30,000 lives have been lost.

Now these terrorists who don't have any clear thought to human life have been aiming at the very roots, at the very core of Indian secularism (ph). So it's not a question of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. It's a question of two nations' (UNINTELLIGIBLE,) whereby Pakistan was created on the demand that Muslims couldn't stay back in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) India. And India has a larger population of Muslims than the total population of Pakistan.

And therefore, there is no way India can conceive the Kashmir can secede from India because they're the larger majority of Muslims living within the valley.

HARRIS: Well Mr. Budhwar let me ask you about - getting back to the actual politics that Colin Powell was going to have to play with. He's on the ground there. I have read reports saying that in Pakistan they believe that Kashmir is more important than the Taliban. So they would be more than willing to abandon the Taliban in order to save any effort they've got under way in Kashmir.

If Secretary Powell were not to give enough support to Pakistan on their efforts in Kashmir, could that unravel the coalition support against the fight in Afghanistan?

BUDHWAR: Not at all. Secretary Powell would have to understand it's not a question of Kashmir or it's not a question of a section of people in Pakistan asking Kashmir to secede from India. It's a mindset that international coalition against terrorism is fighting. And these terrorists don't have a cause like say IRA in Ireland or Basques in Spain.

They are imagining a date and a kind of world ruled by a head priest when the whole world gets converted into (UNINTELLIGIBLE), into Islamic faith. And therefore these terrorists who are operating in Afghanistan are those people who are supporting them in Pakistan or anywhere else are not supporting a particular cause to be achieved in Kashmir.

They are supporting a terrorist cause to wipe out the rest of human civilization and to establish a (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

HARRIS: One final question, if you can answer this for us quickly, Sir, this morning. There have been more incidents of cross- border firings now in between Pakistan and India. Do you make anything of the timing of those right now? Many people are concerned that the timing of these cross-border firings -- resulting in tens of deaths everyday from what we understand -- may actually cause some problems later on down the road.

BUDHWAR: The timing seems to be unfortunate, but again, unfortunately cross-border fighting has been going on for years for decades now. And at this particular point, when Secretary of State Colin Powell is visiting India and Pakistan, I'm sure both Pakistan and India are very keen to concentrate his mind on Kashmir. Pakistan wants America. Pakistan wants an international community to come and help it and do some kind of mediation or intervention.

And India is determined to say that there is no way to accept any outside interference in this bilateral dispute because it relates to the very roots of India and Pakistan polity.

HARRIS: Quite a considerable balancing act you talk about this morning. Kailash Budhwar, we thank you very much for your time and for your insights this morning. Thank you for joining us from our London bureau.

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