(INDIA and PAKISTAN – continued)

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INDIA and PAKISTAN (4 of 4)


India and Pakistan, to 2002

In Kashmir in early 1990, Muslim separatists began a campaign of violence, and the old hostilities and tensions between India and Pakistan increased, with Pakistan denying charges by India that it had given money and guns to the Muslim rebels in Kashmir. In India, Muslims were living peacefully alongside their Hindu neighbors – the Muslims a minority at around 12 percent of the population. But some Hindus still hated Muslims, and some Hindus wanted to move India from a secular state to a closer association with Hinduism.

In 1992, in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Hindus demolished the Muslim mosque at Ayodhya, built in 1528 during the time of the Muslim conqueror Babur (when Ayodhya was called Oudh). The Hindu wrecking crew complained that the mosque had been built on top of the birthplace of their deity, Lord Rama. The tearing down of the mosque triggered more Hindu-Muslim violence in India.

Those who destroyed the mosque were aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Congress Party was declining since the murder of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 (by a suicide bomber associated with a dissident group in Sri Lanka), and in 1966 the Congress Party suffered its worst electoral defeat. The BJP emerged as India's strongest political party. Accused of religious chauvinism and of threatening India's secular tradition, BJP leadership appealed to as many voters as it could by proclaiming its tolerance of Christians (2.3 percent of the population) and Muslims and running one Muslim as a BJP candidate.

Kargil war, infiltration and military buildup

Kargil War infiltratration.  Click to enlarge. Enlargement, Kargil war infiltration

Pakistan, meanwhile, was suffering political instability. Its Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, had been working on improving relations with India, but in late 1996 she was sacked by Pakistan's president and new elections had been called. In those elections, Bhutto and her People's Party lost, and Bhutto claimed election fraud. The winner was Nawaz Sharif of the Muslim League. To secure his power, Sharif used his parliamentary majority to undermine every conceivable challenge to his power. Pakistan was sliding further into bankruptcy and anarchy. Sharif imposed "quasi-marshal law." And in August, 1997, fighting resumed in Kashmir, with Indian and Pakistani troops exchanging artillery fire along the disputed Kashmir border.

In India, middle and upper class groups were trying to suppress demands from poorer folks for land reform and the payment of minimum wages. At the end of the year, the BJP promised to address the abuse and discrimination against the poor. The Congress Party ran Rajiv Gandhi's Italian-born widow, Sonia, who complained of political parties using religion for political gain. The BJP candidate won and a new government formed under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

In May, 1998, it was reported that India had conducted its first nuclear tests since 1974. China was already a nuclear power, with over 2300 nuclear warheads. The pro-nuclear strategists in India believed that having nuclear weapons were a deterrent whereas those who did not have nuclear weapons were vulnerable to attack. Pakistan also felt vulnerable and, in late May, Pakistan tested five underground nuclear devices. The Clinton administration responded to the nuclear testing by placing economic sanctions against both India and Pakistan.

Comment by a nuclear scientist from India, Manjit Singh:   Regarding the Kargil conflict in 1999 there is overwhelming evidence to support the fact that regular and para-military personnel of Pakistan army were fighting the Indian army. The Islamic militants were only a false front and contributed towards only 10-20% of the total intruders. Even these 10-20% militants were used as porters and helping hands and rarely employed in the fighting. There is enough evidence to support these statements.

In February 1999, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan – Vajpayee and Sharif – agreed on steps to reduce the risk of an escalation of hostilities. In May, relations between India and Pakistan collapsed again. What is known as the Kargil War began. Islamic militants seized strategic heights inside a portion of Kashmir, at Kargil, claimed by India. India launched air strikes and a ground assault while Pakistan denied India's claim that it was backing the Muslim guerrillas.

Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan pledged full support to the Kashmir campaign. Then, on July 12, under pressure from the US, he ordered a full withdrawal, and India's leaders celebrated what they saw as a victory.

On 12 October 1999, Sharif's government announced the sacking of army chief Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf supported self-determination for Muslims in Kashmir and accused Sharif of having grown soft on that issue. He led a bloodless coup against Sharif. The new military regime claimed that civil rights, press freedoms and the judiciary remained intact, and it denounced Sharif for having systematically destroyed state institutions and driven the economy toward collapse. Musharraf pledged reform and appointed an eight-member National Security Council to function as Pakistan's supreme governing body. In May, 2000, Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled that the Musharraf's coup was legal. It set a three-year deadline for the restoration of democracy, and Musharraf announced elections for October 2002. Sharif was released from prison in December 2000 and sent into exile to Saudi Arabia.


Pakistan in the Twentieth Century: A Political History, by Lawrence Ziring.

Mohammed Ali Jinah's March 22, 1940, demand

Kashmir and the 1965 War, by Shabir Choudhry, http://www.jammu-kashmir.com/shabir/shabir_1998_10_1.html

The Sino-Indian War, 1962-63, http://www.onwar.com/aced/data/india/indiachina1962.htm

Pakistan: Fifty Years of Nationhood, third edition, by Shahid Javed Burki, Westview Press, 1999

India after Gandhi: a History of the World's Largest Democracy, by Ramachandra Guha, 2007

Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India, by Ashutosh Varshney, 2002

India after Gandhi: a History of the World's Largest Democracy, by Ramachandra Guha, 2007


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