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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 37, May 1999

The Kashmir Crisis

Editor's note: May saw the outbreak of the most serious fighting in the Indian province of Kashmir since the May 1998 nuclear tests. The fighting is between the Indian Army, supported by the Air Force, and insurgents, fighting for an independent Kashmir, who India claims crossed into the Kargil sector of the province from, and with the support of, Pakistan. Pakistan, rejecting this allegation, has claimed that Indian fighter aircraft have carried out bombing raids across the Line of Control (LoC) specified in the Simla Agreement between the two sides.

On 31 May, India announced that it had accepted an offer by Pakistan's Prime Minister Sharif to send his Foreign Minister, Sartaj Aziz, to India for talks to end the fighting. However, the Foreign Ministry statement insisted: "Our armed forces will continue with the operations that have been launched until their objective of putting an end to the armed intrusion in the entire Kargil sector and the restoration of the status quo ante is attained."

Indian Foreign Ministry Statement

'Official Spokesman's Statement,' 21 May 1999

"We have seen the statement made yesterday by an Official Spokesman of the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs on recent developments along the Line of Control in the Kargil sector in Jammu & Kashmir. We have also seen reports of comments made by a Pakistan Military Spokesman on these developments. These constitute a brazen attempt by the Pakistan government to obfuscate the truth and camouflage their true intentions, while projecting an air of injured innocence.

The facts are that Pakistan has, since early this month, under the cover of intense artillery shelling, pushed into Indian territory across the LoC in the Kargil sector, a large number of armed intruders. Evidently, Pakistan hoped that these armed intruders would succeed in consolidating their positions, so that they could pose a continuing threat to peace and security in Jammu & Kashmir. However, the Army has through effective and timely movement surrounded most of these infiltrating groups. All necessary action will be taken by the Armed Forces to complete their task of putting an end to this intrusion. Pakistan should be aware from its own experience that such foolhardy ventures against India can never succeed.

This is yet another instance of Pakistan's persistent efforts to infiltrate terrorists across the LoC, in pursuit of its designs on Jammu & Kashmir. We call upon Pakistan to observe its obligations under the Simla Agreement, in particular, to desist from violating the international boundary and the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir. We reiterate that Pakistan must abandon its sponsorship of cross-border terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir, and elsewhere in India, its continuing firing, including artillery shelling across the international boundary and the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir, often targeting the civilian population, as well as its vicious propaganda against India. We must once again make it clear that there can not be a resolution of complex issues, or the building of a stable bilateral relationship as long as Pakistan continues to engage in these confrontational and hostile activities.

Our desire for good neighbourly relations with Pakistan was once again made amply clear in the historic initiative of Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee to visit Lahore in February this year. We call upon Pakistan to join us in following up on the Lahore Declaration, which commits the two countries to work purposefully in building confidence and trust, put in place a stable structure of cooperation and resolve all outstanding issues through peaceful bilateral discussions."

Source: Government of India website, http://www.indiagov.org

Remarks by Indian Defence Minister

Comments by Defence Minister George Fernandes, New Delhi, 31 May 1999

"As of this morning, our Army's total casualties were 43 killed and 173 wounded and 12 missing, including three officers. The Air Force has lost five killed, including three officers. About 320 militants, along with 150 Pakistani regular soldiers, have been killed in the operation. ... I am sure Pakistani Generals may have...ideas about themselves, but I don't think they are...longing to liquidate their whole country. ... I am sure [their] military men may have their ambitions in terms of being partners in power, but I am sure they are also sensible people when it comes to nuclear weapons, because [using] a nuclear weapon is not just killing your enemy but also killing yourself."

Source: India's Fernandes sees no nuke danger, Reuters, 31 May.

Comment in Pakistan

'Kashmir and the International Community,' The Nation, 31 May

"It was because of the Indian decision to carry out nuclear tests last year that after decades of neglect, Kashmir came to be highlighted as an international issue. It figured, much to India's dislike and disappointment, in all the resolutions passed by P-5, G-8 and the Security Council. … For Pakistan, the reference made to Kashmir in the Security Council Resolution of 6 June, 1998 was a windfall of great significance and value. We, however, failed to derive any mileage out of it. Even when the UN Secretary General sent a special envoy in pursuance of the Security Council deliberations and India refused to accept him, Pakistan diplomatically was found wanting and did not capitalise on India's defiance of the United Nations.

Here was an opportunity not only to effectively project the reactivated Kashmir question and pursue it with vigour and imagination in the world's major capitals and at the United Nations, but also to pointedly draw the attention of the international community to India's misconduct. … All that Pakistan came down to, was to enter into an agreement to move towards a normal relationship with India and to 'intensify' the discussion of 'outstanding issues', including Kashmir. No mention of the Security Council Resolutions, not even the one passed in June 1998! ...

Pakistan accepted its agenda on further steps on culture and trade and gained little by way of return on the 'core question'. The hotting up of the conflict - India using airpower to dislodge the Mujahideen in the Kargil area and Pakistan having shot down two enemy military aircraft - has failed to induce the international community to react sharply and take a meaningful initiative, in spite of the region having become a dangerous nuclear flash point! Why?

Because we have on our own agreed to bilateralise the issue and have reinforced the Simla Agreement approach at the expense of the international commitments enshrined in the UN records. Also because we have not risen to the demands of our internationally recognised position of being a 'party' to the dispute, more or less agreeing with the American interpretation that any active involvement on our part with the freedom fighters in the Occupied Valley was inappropriate and wrong, thus abdicating our obligations as a 'party' to address what India has been doing to people living in the 'disputed territory'.

That is why James Rubin, the US State Department's official spokesman, in his statement on 29 May described the Kashmiri freedom fighters as 'infiltrators'. All that he on behalf of Washington could offer was advice for restraint and to 'urge both sides to work together to reduce tensions'.

In other words no meaningful initiative by the US or UN. Let the matter be settled bilaterally. All that Kofi Annan has done is to show 'deep' concern over the continuing hostilities between Pakistan and India over Kashmir. … Why is it that Pakistan has not taken the matter to the Security Council? Pakistan's airspace was violated by the Indian Air Force and Indian planes were attacked and destroyed in self-defence. There is every possibility of escalation of operations. …

This could spiral into a full-fledged war. Will the US and UN continue to cling to their role of 'concerned' bystanders with their own hidden understanding of the denouement and the consequences? Will China in some way exert its weight as an old and staunch friend of Pakistan? …

Now that the USA and the other world powers have conceded and have again come to consider Kashmir as the root cause of conflict between two nuclear powers (as late as June 1998), it is for Pakistan to convince them that bilateral talks means ploughing the sand and therefore the US and UN have to sooner or later involve themselves in a speedy settlement of this burning issue."

Source: Government of Pakistan website, http://www.pak.gov.pk

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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