Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Nuclear-Powered Animosities

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Nuclear-Powered Animosities

Article excerpt

On May 30, as tensions between India and Pakistan rose to dangerous heights, American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice (AMGPJ) hosted a briefing at the National Press Club to discuss India, Pakistan and Kashmir, and whether nuclear war could be prevented.

Making clear that she did not represent the official U.S. government position, former Ambassador Teresita C. Schaffer, director of the South Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, provided her analysis of what Washington's position would be. In keeping with a U.S. tendency to back India against Pakistan, Schaffer discussed holding talks including India and Kashmir, and the possibility of loosening Indian government control on Kashmir (which the U.S. does not consider occupied territory, according to Schaffer, but merely an unresolved issue). She made no mention, however, of including Pakistan in any talks, despite its cooperation in the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, although she did endorse the British offer of international monitoring. Schaffer thought that India would reject such monitoring, however, as New Delhi already had rejected a U.S. offer of border monitoring equipment. Somewhat alarmingly, Schaffer allowed for the possibility of Pakistan using nuclear weapons if the country suffered a loss of territory, an attack on a major population center, or feared a loss of sovereignty.

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, executive director of the Kashmiri-American Council, argued that the international community, though willing to help end the largest military build-up between India and Pakistan in 30 years, made a fundamental mistake by making its primary objective the defusion of tension rather than trying to settle the issue of Kashmir. He lauded Indian President Atal Behari Vajpayee for stating that the issue of Kashmir revolved around an indigenous movement rather than cross-border terrorism. The U.N. promise to Kashmir of a referendum had not been kept, Fai said, adding that resolution must come politically, not militarily. He recommended a cease-fire, to be followed by negotiations including Kashmir, Pakistan, India, and an international figure such as Nelson Mandela as moderator.

Dr. Rajesh Kadian, who is of Indian descent, contended that one of two U.S. responses to the Sept. 11 attacks on its soil was the "belated admission that terrorism was alive and well. …

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