The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewEric Margolis Archive
The World’s Most Dangerous Border – Kashmir
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

ISTANBUL – Reports of fighting along Kashmir’s cease-fire line don’t normally receive much attention in the western media. Last week, for example, saw a series of clashes on 8 and 10 January that killed both Pakistani and Indian troops.

One of the Indian soldiers was decapitated, provoking fury across India and calls from its extremist Shiv Sena Hindu party for a nuclear attack on Pakistan.

Gunfire is common on the 1947 cease-fire line known as the Line of Control that divided the beautiful mountain kingdom of Kashmir into Indian and Pakistani-controlled portions. Fighting in that tense region always has the potential to quickly escalate into a major war – or even nuclear conflict.

Having been under fire numerous times on the LOC, I used the experience in my first book, “War at the Top of the World” to illustrate just how dangerous the simmering Kashmir dispute remains. A dispute that went from bad to critical after India and then Pakistan acquired and deployed nuclear weapons. This, I wrote, was the most dangerous strategic threat facing the globe.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and some very large battles over Kashmir. Both claim the entire mountain state. Pakistan’s intelligence service, ISI, has waged a long covert campaign to insert guerillas into Indian Kashmir to aid a series of spontaneous rebellions against Indian rule by the state’s Muslim majority.

This writer has joined mujihadin fighting their way across the lethal Line of Control which is defended by Israeli-constructed fences, electronic sensors, minefields and Israeli-supplied drones. Losses run very high among those trying to cross the line.

Muslim Kashmiris have been in almost constant revolt against Indian rule since 1947 when the British divided India. Today, 500,000 Indian troops and paramilitary police garrison rebellious Kashmir. Some 40,000-50,000 Kashmiris are believed to have died over the past decade in uprising.

India blames the violence in Kashmir on “cross-border terrorism” engineered by Pakistani intelligence. Human rights groups accuse Indian forces of executions, torture, and reprisals against civilians. Large numbers of Hindus and Sikhs have fled strife-torn Kashmir after attacks by Muslim Kashmiri guerillas. It’s a very bloody, dirty war.

The Kashmir conflict poses multiple dangers. First is the very likely chance that local skirmishing can quickly surge into major fighting involving air power and heavy artillery. In 1999, a surprise attack by Pakistani commandos into the Indian-ruled Kargil region provoked heavy fighting. The two nations, with more than one million troops facing one another, came very close to an all-out war. I have on good authority that both sides put their tactical nuclear weapons on red alert. Angry Indian generals called on Delhi to use its powerful armored corps to cut Pakistan in half. India’s cautious civilian leadership said no.

ORDER IT NOW

Second, the Kashmir conflict also involves India’s strategic rival, China. Beijing claims the entire eastern end of the Himalayan border separating India and China, which Chinese troops occupied in a brief 1963 war. China also occupied, with Pakistan’s help, a high strategic plateau on the western end of the Himalayas known as Aksai Chin that was part of historic Tibet.

China is Pakistan’s closest political and military ally. Any major Indian attack on Pakistan would risk intervention by Chinese air, ground and missiles forces in neighboring Tibet.

Third, in the midst of all these serious tensions, India and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons – delivered by air and missile – are on hair-trigger alert. This means that during a severe crisis, both sides are faced with “use it, or lose” decision in minutes to use their nuclear arsenals.

The strategic command and control systems of India and Pakistan are said to be riddled with problems and often unreliable, though much improvement has been made in recent years.

A false report, a flight of birds, and off-course aircraft could provoke a nuclear exchange. By the time Islamabad could call Delhi, war might be on. A US Rand Corp study estimated an Indo-Pakistani nuclear exchange would kill two million immediately, injure or kill 100 million later, pollute the Indus River and send clouds of radioactive dust around the globe.

That is the excellent reason why we should keep a weather eye on Kashmir and press India and Pakistan to make a fair settlement of this exceptionally dangerous 66-year dispute.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: India, Pakistan 
Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Eric Margolis Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Bin Laden is dead, but his strategy still bleeds the United States.
Egyptians revolted against American rule as well as Mubarak’s.
“America’s strategic and economic interests in the Mideast and Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in...
A menace grows from Bush’s Korean blind spot.
Far from being a model for a “liberated” Iraq, Afghanistan shows how the U.S. can get bogged down Soviet-style.