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|nytimes rushdie article|
|05/30/02 at 09:05:13|
wait! before anyone goes crazy on me for putting this here, let me say a couple of things, and then, certainly if someone wants me to remove it or the board wants to remove it, no problem.
generally, i feel that i can be only consider myself informed if i read a full range of things, including things i might vehemently disagree with or find distasteful. and it helps me to form my opinion more clearly, first for myself, and second to express to others, if i read things i disagree with carefully enough to see what's really being said (including what's between the lines and ESPECIALLY what's NOT being said...) and it helps me figure out not only the holes in the reasoning of what i disagree with, but in my own reasoning as well.
ok, so with that said, here it is. do with it as you want. (i only logged back in to put this up, and - provided i can successfully log out again - am leaving, so if it should be taken down, please, admins do so.)
May 30, 2002
The Most Dangerous Place in the World
By SALMAN RUSHDIE
he present Kashmir crisis feels like a déjà vu replay of the last one. Three years ago a weak Indian coalition government led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya
Janata Party had just lost a confidence vote in India's Parliament and was nervously awaiting a general election. At once it began to beat the war drums over
Kashmir. Now another coalition government, still led by the B.J.P. and deeply tainted by B.J.P. supporters' involvement in the massacre of hundreds of Muslims
in Gujarat State, may be about to lose another general election. So here goes the government again, talking up a Kashmiri war and asking India to stand firm behind its
Three years ago in Pakistan, the equally weak government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had bankrupted the national economy and was facing well-documented
corruption charges. Mr. Sharif, too, had much to gain from war fever — fed by the various Muslim terrorist groups operating in Kashmir. The hawkish Pakistani
general then responsible for communicating with and training those terrorist groups was one Pervez Musharraf. (By the way — just so we're clear on who Mr.
Musharraf, now Pakistan's president, really is — some of these groups were almost certainly sent by Pakistan's intelligence service to Qaeda training camps in
Afghanistan.) When Nawaz Sharif succumbed to American pressure and promised to rein in the terrorists, General Musharraf was furious. A few months later he
overthrew Mr. Sharif in a coup and seized power.
Will the outcome also be a replay of three years ago? Will the conflict be contained again?
This time President Musharraf is the one being pressed by the United States to stamp out Kashmiri terrorism. He has been playing a double game, arresting hundreds of
members of the groups he once fostered but quietly freeing most of them soon afterward. Caught between two necessities — placating his major international sponsor and
playing to the home audience — he may well in the end follow his deepest political instincts: to support (overtly or covertly) the Islamist radicals who have terrorized
the once idyllic valley of Kashmir for well over a decade.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee of India, with his talk of a "decisive battle," clearly feels that direct military action, resulting in the reconquest of some if not all
of the Kashmiri territory now under Pakistani control, is the only way of preventing attacks like the atrocity this month in which women and children were slaughtered
at an Indian army base. Mr. Vajpayee knows that Indian rule is unpopular in the valley, that the Indian army looks to many Kashmiris like an army of occupation. But he
will also have calculated that in the opinion of the international community, and also of many fearful, near-destitute Kashmiris, Pakistan's protracted sponsorship of
terrorism has damaged its claims to moral legitimacy.
Would a war between India and Pakistan, if it came, go nuclear?
Pakistan, with its suggestively timed missile tests, its refusal to adopt a policy of not being the first to use nuclear arms and its hawkish talk, is trying to give the
impression that it would have no compunction about using its nuclear arsenal. India's military leadership has said that if attacked with nuclear bombs it would respond
with maximum force and that in such a conflict India would sustain heavy damage but survive, whereas Pakistan would be destroyed utterly.
Is it really likely, however, that Pakistan would, so to speak, strap a nuclear weapon to its belly, walk into the crowded bazaar that is India and turn itself into the
biggest suicide bomber in history?
Mr. Musharraf doesn't look like martyr material. Ah, but if he were losing a conventional war? If India's overwhelming numerical superiority on land, at sea and in the
air won the day and Pakistan lost its prized Kashmiri land, would reason be swept aside? Worst of all, if Pakistani fury at a military defeat by India were to result in
Mr. Musharraf's overthrow by Islamist hard-liners, Pakistan's nuclear warheads could fall into the hands of people for whom martyrdom is a higher goal than peace,
people who value death more highly than life.
Pakistan is calling on the international community to intervene, but this call must be heard with caution. For half a century Pakistan has sought to internationalize the
Kashmiri dispute while India has consistently described that effort as interference in its internal affairs. Both sides are locked into old language, old strategies and an old
game of chicken that's currently playing itself out across the Line of Control. Like two aged wrestlers fighting on a cliff, India and Pakistan are locked together, rolling
ever closer to the edge.
But their ancient hatred is no longer a matter only for them. The risk of a nuclear battle, however improbable, makes Kashmir everybody's problem. Right now it's the
most dangerous place in the world. These pathetic old fighters must be pulled apart, and soon. Yes, that probably does mean intervention by the West, though Russia
seems eager to help as well, which is useful.
This should not, however, be the intervention that Pakistan wants. The point is not to restrain Indian "aggression," but to make the world safer for us all. The situation
can only be stabilized if India and Pakistan are both forced to back away, preferably to outside of Kashmir's historic, unpartitioned borders. This "hands off Kashmir"
solution will have to be externally imposed on the reluctant principals and will require that a large peacekeeping force be sent to the region to support Kashmir as an
autonomous area. But who in the West wants that — it's just the old colonialist-imperialist power trip, isn't it? And who's supposed to pay for all this peacekeeping,
The answers to those questions are also questions: What's the alternative? Do you have a better idea? Or shall we just stand back and keep our postcolonial,
nonimperialist fingers crossed? Will it take mushroom clouds over Delhi and Islamabad to make us give up our ingrained prejudices and try something that might
actually work? In the immortal words of the Spice Girls, "Will this déjà vu never end?"
Salman Rushdie is the author of "Fury: A Novel" and the forthcoming essay collection "Step Across This Line."
|Re: nytimes rushdie article|
|06/01/02 at 02:53:00|
the fact that he quotes the spice girls should be amusing enough
|06/01/02 at 02:53:23|
|Re: nytimes rushdie article|
|06/01/02 at 05:06:45|
the fact that he quotes the spice girls should be amusing enough[/quote]
I really don't get it when he calls the pop bands' words as 'immortal'. The members of the group are themselves separated. How then would their words remain immortal? :D
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