Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Mystery Of The Sub-Continent

We're all fairly aware of the troubles in Pakistan: suspension of civil rights, a madman desperately holding onto power by playing the terror card, a woman poised to reclaimer family's rule, a nation deeply torn by radical political views....yes, I'm still talking about as I pondered these things this week, I wondered about something.

Pakistan and India have long had enmity and conflict with each other. At one point, in 1998, they each showed the other its dick by testing nuclear weapons and missile systems.

So why has India kept so quiet over a turmoil in its neighbor's house? There seems to be an answer and it's the horns of the dilemma India finds itself on:
Delhi has a very high stake in the political and security situation in Pakistan stabilising as soon as possible. The future of a tentative peace process that has been under way for nearly four years depends on this.

But increasingly, it is alarmed at the intensity of the confrontation between the Pakistani military and militants in the volatile tribal areas.

Historically some of the militant groups in Pakistan have had links with militants fighting Indian forces in Indian-administered Kashmir.

In the past few years the level of violence in Kashmir has come down and India is keen to keep a lid on it.

India fears a worsening of the situation in disputed Kashmir

But there's a growing perception here that the militants are gaining some ground in Pakistan, a situation which has huge potential consequences for India.
So we see this: India has kept to the sidelines because Musharraf has cracked down on the militants, which means Kashmir has been much more peaceful, while on the other hand, it sees the very same militant groups that it is battling in Kashmir positioning themselves to take power (and the Pakistani nukes).

In other words, as it stands down, it simultaneously has had to stay alert.

Another dilemma: by their silence, India has supported Musharraf. Now that Benazir Bhutto is back, there's a conflict: do you back the dictator who's power structure is shaky, or the former president who is not a guarantee of peace in Pakistan, and is not officially backed by the United States, so not even guaranteed a seat at the table?

The US has remained fairly neutral throughout the history of the India-Pakistan conflicts, with a small lean towards India (world's largest democracy, after all, and a great place to outsource jobs to), until September 11, when the US made a strategic decision to hop under the covers with Musharraf. That couldn't have made India happy, although I'm sure it understood the need.

What you may not be aware of, however, is that shortly after that new approach to Pakistan by the US, the conflict in Kashmir intensified, including a bombing in the Indian parliament. By 2002, Musharraf promised hsi crackdown on the Kashmir militants, and by 2003, things had started to settle down.

A very difficult, complicated puzzle is in place, but then, India invented chess. One would imagine they have some experience in these.