Other wars

Hypnotized by the impasse the United States faces between starting a war with Iraq and dampening the one in the Middle East, we easily overlook the other wars that are brewing. The most alarming and dangerous is the continuing confrontation between Pakistan and India. Provocations are exchanged, resources marshaled, civilians evacuated, and armies massed at their borders. This has happened before-most recently, in January after Islamic militants from Pakistan attacked the Indian parliament. Back then, the United States, Britain, and others intervened and the two countries backed off. Will they again? Can they again?

In the current state of belligerence, Pakistan’s provocative missile "tests" serve to remind the world that two nuclear powers are on the brink of a major and catastrophic war. Not that the war would necessarily start with nuclear weapons landing on Islamabad or New Delhi. The trouble, as usual, is focused on Kashmir where both countries are poised for a conventional war (a million soldiers are said to be facing one another across a porous line of control). But should hostilities break out and either side falter, there are no guarantees that President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan or Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee of India would not reach into his nuclear arsenal or be compelled to do so by militants and nationalists to whom each is beholden. Even worse, the military in one country or the other...

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