India-Pakistan Brinkmanship

Severed Ties: Pakistanis bid farewell to relatives returning to India. As tensions mounted, India halted train service on Jan. 1 (AFP Photo/Arif Ali)

Seoul Joong Ang Ilbo (independent), Jan. 16: Pakistani President [Pervez] Musharraf’s bold speech and even bolder action clamping down on Pakistani-based Kashmiri terrorists, and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s acknowledgment of this step forward, have significantly reduced the prospects of war between South Asia’s two nuclear powers....But those worrying about a deliberate nuclear war between these two historic rivals are missing the real danger. Even if India decides to launch surgical strikes against terrorist camps in Pakistan, and even if Pakistan retaliates...the odds are extremely high that neither leader would resort to the use of his limited nuclear arsenal....Vajpayee because he doesn’t have to, and Musharraf because it represents his major ace in the hole, to be saved until national survival is truly at risk.
—Ralph A. Cossa

Tokyo The Japan Times (independent), Jan. 17:
President Musharraf decreed a ban on five leading militant groups...but it could be characterized as just the tip of the iceberg....Musharraf’s policy change is now expected to begin resolving a major security crisis with neighboring India....While Musharraf’s change of course has been welcomed by much of the outside world, the crackdown may well be the first step in a two-step approach to rid Pakistan of militant groups. The other step—restoring a credible, representative political order—remains to be seen.
—Farhan Bokhari

Karachi Daily Jang (pro-government), Jan. 12: Pakistan has proposed deployment of the United Nations’ multinational force on both sides of the Line of Control in Kashmir, so that independent observations could be made against Indian accusations of infiltration from the Pakistani side and to avert any accidental war between the two countries. Though the proposal has come to light during a press briefing by the Foreign Office, it should be seriously taken up to win the confidence of world opinion.

New Delhi The Pioneer (independent), Jan. 15: While India had good reason to qualify its welcoming of the Pakistani president’s address with an “if,” it would have appeared as distinctly churlish had it, at the very outset, dismissed it as insincere. The fact is that he has expressed his determination to effect a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s policies, which were making it regress into Islamic theocratic fundamentalism and medievalism and earning for it the stigma of being, along with Afghanistan, the nursery of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism and its exporter to all parts of the globe....India’s response, with the full support of the opposition parties, has put the ball in his court. [Musharraf] has now to deliver.

New Delhi Hindustan Times (centrist), Jan. 15: Now that India will have to wait patiently for Pervez Musharraf to turn over a new leaf to begin, hopefully, a new and more moderate phase in his career, it might as well put the time in its hands to good use by turning its attention to Kashmir....The militants will not fade away. There may even be an increase in their depredations as jihadi groups, dismayed by the crackdown in Pakistan, will try to show that they are still around....But even a pro-forma renunciation of the fundamentalists by Pakistan is bound to provide some relief from the kind of insensate violence from which the people of Kashmir have been suffering for so long. India must revive the normal processes of civilian life, some evidence of which was seen during the local elections some time ago. There has to be a renewed emphasis on development projects and those capable of generating employment as in the tourism sector.

Beijing Beijing Review (Communist Party weekly), Jan. 10: As to the future perspectives of India and Pakistan relations, there may be three scenarios. First, there will be neither peace nor war, with tensions rising and falling from time to time. I presume this will probably continue to be so in the future. Second, violent confrontation may break out. Now that both India and Pakistan are armed with nuclear weapons, they have to carefully consider the grave consequences of war. The third scenario is the best one. India and Pakistan may resolve their disputes step by step and gradually lead to a normal and even good-neighborly relationship. Judging by the present reality, this scenario may just be a long-term ideal objective.
—Ye Zhengjia

Karachi Dawn (centrist), Jan. 18:
New Delhi alone wishes to decide whether an act is a terrorist act or a legitimate response by a freedom struggle against brutal state terrorism. It is India alone that wants to determine the authenticity of evidence that links such actions with Pakistan. There is no room for a third party. Just as there is no room for U.N. observers on the Indian side of the Line of Control in Kashmir even though Pakistan has always allowed them this access.
—Javed Jabbar

Singapore The Straits Times (independent), Jan. 17: The only way to end the conflict is through negotiations. No doubt that is easier said than done, but Gen. Musharraf’s actions provide an opening—and India needs to show that it is ready to exploit that opening.

Kolkata Pratidin (independent, Bengali-language), Jan. 17: [President] Musharraf has said Pakistan will respond immediately once India takes steps to reduce tensions at the border. In the meantime, police have arrested almost 1,900 militants in Pakistan....But no restrictions have been put on the [leaflets and magazines] of [terrorist organizations]....It is difficult to understand why Musharraf’s administration is not giving attention to banning those publications.