From the February 2002 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 49, No. 2)

India and Pakistan

Near Boiling Point

Debora Kuan, Assistant Editor

Outraged by the recent suicide attack on India’s Parliament, India has suggested it may consider military action if diplomatic efforts to get Pakistan to crack down on the accused militant groups—Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad—fail. Pakistan’s leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf condemned the act immediately after it occurred but denied accusations that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency was involved. For its part, Pakistan has offered to conduct a joint investigation into the attack. But India’s President Atal Behari Vajpayee is not interested; he cites the bullet-ridden Parliament wall and the dead bodies of the assailants as evidence enough. Fifteen people, including the five-person suicide squad, were killed in the daredevil shooting at the seat of Indian democracy on Dec. 13.

Meanwhile, the international community, especially the United States, fearing a confrontation between these two nuclear powers, continues to urge India to exercise restraint.

Media outlets throughout India have noted the hypocrisy of the U.S.-led counterterrorism war, which purportedly is aimed at terrorists and those who harbor them. Referring to the U.S. reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks and Israel’s recent air strikes against the Palestinian Authority, Sanjay Suri wrote in Outlook (Dec. 24), “It’s not okay for India to do what the Americans, Israelis, or British do without hesitation....What shook India caused hardly a stir in Washington, though it’s all supposedly a part of the same war.”

Pakistani papers roundly denounced the attack as senseless. But some argue that India is using it as an excuse for renewed confrontation with its longtime rival. The Nation (Dec. 17) wrote, “[W]hoever is behind this misguided abortive attack...played right into India’s hands. This was just the kind of excuse it was waiting for.”

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