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unclassified - 8 06 2002 - 12:54 - katatonik

Local danger, global fear

“Like other states from Israel to Russia, both India and Pakistan have tried to recast their local conflict as part of the global war on terrorism. India has asked for international support against Pakistani-backed guerrilla attacks in Kashmir. For its part, Pakistan has cut its links with the Taliban and forged a new alliance with the USA. President Musharraf has now accused India of backing Hindu terrorism in Kashmir. He wants international intervention to resolve the dispute over Kashmir.
The latest escalation of the Kashmir crisis has been caused, less by new developments on the ground than by the internationalisation of the conflict. It is obvious that both governments are striking postures for the benefit of their domestic audiences. But what we are witnessing is also a piece of military-diplomatic theatre, played out for the benefit of an international audience, with both the Indians and the Pakistanis trying to catch the eye of the USA and its allies. The trouble is that it is being acted out with real armies and missiles.
If the rising tensions in the region are a symptom of the post-11 September world, so too is the panicky Western reaction. The doom-laden prophecies of nuclear catastrophe emanating from Western capitals, complete with US predictions of up to 12million casualties (‘and that’s just the startÂ…’), stand in contrast to the more measured analysis of many Asian commentators. These exaggerated reactions are a consequence of the culture of fear and loathing that grips Western societies today, rather than of events in the Indian sub-continent. But as outside intervention continues to raise the stakes in the region, there is always a chance that the predictions of disaster could turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.”

Mick Hume: “Whose war on terrorism?

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