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India war games put Pakistan on edge

Military, political moves latest in long conflict

Kashmir peace
Separatists' rejection of India's offer for talks may have worsened already slim prospects for peace  

May 3, 2001
Web posted at: 4:53 PM EDT (2053 GMT)

RESOURCE
 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Military exercises near the India-Pakistani border have intensified already strained relations between the two South Asian countries.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since Great Britain granted both nations independence in 1947. An 11-year Pakistani-backed revolt in India's predominantly Muslim state of Kashmir has been the focal point of recent conflicts, with each nation testing its nuclear capabilities and posturing politically.

An Indian army official said Pakistan had been informed about its five-day military exercises, beginning May 5 and involving India's air force and army. The exercises, the nation's third largest in 10 years, intend to prepare soldiers for nuclear, biological or chemical warfare, an Indian army spokesman said Tuesday.

  EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES

HighWired.com's classroom project What's happening in India and Pakistan looks at the conflict between Pakistan and India that has been heightened by the introduction of nuclear capability.

 
 IN-DEPTH
Kashmir conflict Kashmir: Where conflict rules

  •  Profile of Kashmir
  •  Photo Gallery: Kashmir
  •  Map of disputed areas
  •  Links to Kashmir
 
BORDER WAR
 

But officials in Pakistan, where military leader General Pervez Musharraf is currently the nation's top power, said they had received no advance notice. Pakistan says it only received information over a "hotline through military channels" on April 17 that India would conduct two separate division-size exercises in mid-May.

"The government of Pakistan is therefore watching the situation closely," a Pakistani foreign ministry statement said.

Three wars, two near Kashmir

Border map
The war games will take place along India's border with Pakistan  

Tensions have been brewing between Islamic Pakistan and largely Hindu India since both since independence. The nations have fought three wars, two in the Himalayan Mountain region in northwestern India and northern Pakistan that includes Kashmir. India controls 45 percent of the greater Kashmir region, Pakistan a third, and China holds the rest.

A fourth war nearly broke out in 1999, when India and Pakistan engaged in heavy fighting along the Kashmir border, one year after both nations tested nuclear weapons.

India is demanding Pakistan end support for Muslim rebels fighting against Indian forces in the region. Islamabad denies direct involvement in the revolt, although it has backed what it calls a struggle for self-determination.

"As far as Pakistan is concerned, we will continue to give moral, political and diplomatic support to the great struggle of our Kashmir brothers until victory," President Mohammad Rafiq Tarar, an ally of Musharraf, said in March.

No closer to peace

Kashmir separatists
Kashmir separatists have been an irritant in India-Pakistan relations  

Last month, India offered to begin talks with Kashmiri rebels, but the area's separatist All Parties Huriyat Conference (APHC), established in 1993 and claiming to be the "premier political representative of the Kashmiri people," said it would not negotiate unless Pakistan was included in discussions.

"The moment the Kashmir issue is resolved, peace will automatically return not only to Kashmir but to the whole Indian sub-continent," APHC chairman Professor Abdul Gani Bhat told CNN last week. "And it will be resolved only when all the three parties -- India, Pakistan and People of Kasmir -- are involved in the negotiations."

"We desire a no-war pact. We are ready for mutual reduction of forces, and we also seek a South Asia free from all nuclear weapons."

India declared a unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir last November, extending it three times since. But most guerrilla groups in the region have rejected the truce, and the violence has continued.

Police and hospital officials in Kashmir estimate more than 30,000 people have been killed during the revolt.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
 

rhetorical:

verbal; use of language

 

self-determination:

intent or practice of people -- within a certain geographic area or ethnic group -- to govern themselves and dictate their own political future

 

ceasefire:

a halt of hostile and/or military activities

 

guerrila:

person who engages in irregular warfare



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RELATED SITES:
Indian Army
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