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  • Jessica Mathews, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Kanti Bajpai, Brookings Institution
  • Kahled Ahmed, Henry L. Stimson Center
  • Karl Inderfurth, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs

DIANE REHM: From WAMU and NPR in Washington, I'm Diane Rehm. For two years both India and Pakistan have had the capability of deploying nuclear weapons. That substantially raises the ante in their longstanding Kashmir dispute. Recent reports of political and economic instability within Pakistan further heighten regional security concerns. ... Jessica Mathews, if I could start with you, two years ago when both India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests, the world was really aghast. What's changed since that time?

JESSICA MATHEWS: Well, I think we've seen how a nuclear arms race can begin. I think we've also seen the help of some that nuclear weapons would make the region more stable has really not occurred. A war has been fought in Kashmir since the tests. And conventional military expenditures and military budgets have gone way up. Both India and Pakistan are buying conventional weapons almost as fast as they can afford.

At the same time, Kashmir remains a point of enormous contention. And both countries have continued a slow-motion progress towards weaponization, the making of a testable weapon into a usable one, continued it through this period, although they have not, as far as we know, gone the last step of actual deployment of weapons ready to fire.

DIANE REHM:So, that's where we stand at this moment.

JESSICA MATHEWS: That's where we stand today. That's right. And, at the same time, I think there's one other important thing that's happened in that period outside the region, which was the defeat of the Comprehensive Test Ban in the United States Senate, which derailed a possible chance, I think, for India and then Pakistan to sign a Comprehensive Test Ban, and to interrupt a cycle of testing. I should say that both countries have announced a voluntary moratorium on testing.

DIANE REHM:But, on the other hand, Ambassador Inderfurth, the Guardian recently reported that both countries have announced their intentions to test intermediate range ballistic missiles in the near future. What has been the U.S. response to that?

KARL INDERFURTH: Well, they do continue their ballistic missile testing programs. They've been rather slow in developing these, and that is something that we're watching. We've spoken to them about that. But I think that what we have seen over these past two years, I don't disagree with anything that Jessica Mathews has said. But fortunately there has been no further nuclear testing. Both sides have said that they intend to continue their moratorium on further testing. They have both said that they will discuss in Geneva negotiation for a treaty to have a cutoff of fissile material, which is a bomb making material for nuclear weapons, and they are discussing with us restraint in terms of their nuclear missile programs. They both say that they want credible minimum deterrence, and of course minimum is what we want to see as well.

So, unfortunately, we have had a setback on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in the Senate, but we have assured them that our moratorium on further testing is in effect, and that we will hope to see that treaty brought back to the Senate in the future. In the meantime, we continue to urge them to sign it so that they will be part of the 160 nations around the world that have signed that treaty.

DIANE REHM:Kanti Bajpai, at the same time, The Washington Times reported recently that the Indian army will be trained to prepare for a nuclear war. Is that posturing or is it the reality?

KANTI BAJPAI: I think anytime there are nuclear weapons around that statement has a certain amount of sense. One implication of that is simply a change in tactics, and so forth, in order to accommodate to a battlefield that might have nuclear weapons, it might mean equipment changes as well. I think the other important part of that statement, though, is a reflection of India's concerns after the last Kashmir war in the summer of 1999, when Pakistani intruders were found on the hilltops, and India was fairly restrained in its military response.

I think India wants to deter that kind of intrusion in the future, and is suggesting to Pakistan that it is exploring how to fight a limited war under nuclear conditions and respond conventionally so that Pakistan can't take it for granted that India will be so restrained in the future.

DIANE REHM:But what has nuclear capability actually meant to Pakistan, Kahled Ahmed?

KAHLED AHMED: I think Pakistan has always linked its program to India's, and Pakistan's bomb is India specific, and it's supposed to be a defensive device. But, Pakistan has been destabilized by the possession of this device because an essential component of deterrence is missing, the two countries have not determined the status quo, and, therefore, do not know when to start deterring and when to exercise restraint. I'm reminded of the East-West situation in the '60s when the status quo started gelling automatically. In 1958, for instance, John F. Cannon said in one of his BBC lectures that East-West deterrence will become stable if Eastern Europe as a territorial dispute is removed from the middle. And in 1975, in the Helsinki Accords, East and West sat together and actually delineated the status quo, which would not be violated. And on that rested the deterrence. With Pakistan and India, that has not been decided. And I think the possession of the device destabilizes Pakistan because Pakistan is under the onus of changing the status quo.

DIANE REHM:But Kanti Bajpai, how much of a deterrent do you think it has been between India and Pakistan with regard to the ongoing dispute, for example, in Kashmir?

KANTI BAJPAI: Well, already last year there was war. Now, it's true that nuclear weapons in a sense are primarily intended to deter other nuclear weapons. But the peculiar situation, which was understood, I think, in the Cold War right from its inception, was that to the extent that nuclear weapons are deterred by each other, they, in fact, leave room open for conflict at a lower level. In fact, in some ways they encourage it because understanding that you do deter each other through nuclear weapons and that there's the danger of escalation, you know, one side or the other has a temptation to nickel and dime you, as it were, militarily, at a much lower level.

DIANE REHM: Go ahead, Jessica Mathews.

JESSICA MATHEWS: I was just going to say that one of the big dangers here is that India and Pakistan think very differently about this deterrent. That is, Pakistan believes that India really is deterred by its nuclear capability. India, Indian very high level people have stated that there's plenty of room for a conventional war in-between before -- sorry, that you could fight a conventional war that would not escalate to a nuclear exchange. Now, that asymmetry between the two countries is a cause of real concern, because if Pakistan feels that it would respond with nuclear, India believes that it wouldn't, you have a potential for real danger. And these are two countries neither of which has a nuclear doctrine, neither of which has a real chain of command over its nuclear weapons, both of which have poor intelligence, and poor command and control. And we discovered in looking back at the Cuban missile crisis how even two countries that had all of those things could drastically misunderstand each other's intentions in that crisis. So, here you have two countries right next door with a hot cause of contention between them. That asymmetry and expectation about what the nuclear deterrent means is really a cause of concern.

DIANE REHM:And going back to your point, there are those who say that the greatest security threat to the South Asia region is the instability within Pakistan. Talk about what's going on there, Mr. Ahmed.

KAHLED AHMED: I think the Pakistani-India relationship was troubled from the start in the way partition took place. The Pakistanis thought that the partition was unfair, and they took upon themselves to change the status quo and straighten the borders out. That meant a small country taking on a many times bigger country. And I think this confrontation has destabilized Pakistan across many years, has caused martial law to take control of the country. I think the bomb has encouraged elements who think that the status quo can now be changed.


KAHLED AHMED: I think it relates basically to the Kashmiri dispute, where last year the Kargil operation took place. And I think it was of a piece with the thinking that now that we have the bomb we can have a set piece battle in which we've always been better off in the past.

DIANE REHM:And what about the activities of the Taliban?

KAHLED AHMED: Well, that is a question that Pakistan has to tackle. That's an internal threat. And I think after the bomb, whereas Indian economy has stabilized, Pakistan's has not. And Pakistan has suffered an international backlash much more. And one reason, of course, was that Pakistan opened its doors to militias who trained abroad, and then came and fought in the Kashmir war. I think that Pakistan is aware of the fact that Taliban have a creed which resonates with many religious elements inside Pakistan. And there's a tendency of Pakistan to conform to the Afghan paradigm, which is total chaos.

DIANE REHM:And what about the intentions long term of the Pakistani leader General Musharraf, what do they appear to be?

KAHLED AHMED: I think the Musharraf government relies on the economy to turn around, and give them the breathing time. And then they can somehow regularize the situation. And this year every culture has performed a little bit better, which has given heart to the government. But, I think if you look at the Pakistani media, especially the English language press, there is absolutely no space for hope for the Musharraf government. The institutions have frayed further. The government is popular neither with the Islamic radicals, nor with the dwindling population of liberals. And I think the economy is not going to take off.

DIANE REHM:So in the breach the Taliban gained strength. Is that correct?

KAHLED AHMED: That's right. I think it's not really Taliban, but their creed, which is a Deobandi creed, a kind of puritanical Islam, which is now becoming popular.

DIANE REHM:Kanti Bajpai, one of our listeners would like us to clarify the issues behind the Kashmir war.

KANTI BAJPAI: Well, the war last summer was the fourth war between India and Pakistan, and three of these have been over Kashmir. Kashmir was a princely state that chose to accede to India. That's a controversial issue, whether it legally did accede or not. India believes it did; Pakistan contests that. The dispute ended up in the U.N., and in spite of U.N. mediation was never really resolved. The last semi-agreement was 1972, when India and Pakistan agreed that they would make efforts to solve the issue bilaterally. Since then not a great deal happened to actually bring that about, and since 1989, you'll remember, there's been a rebellion in the Indian part of Kashmir.

The war last year in a sense was a kind of climaxing of that struggle. And Pakistani regular troops, plus militants, Kashmiri militants, found themselves on the Heights of Kargil, which is a part of Kashmir. They were spotted in the early part of the summer, that is in May, early May, and essentially we had a two-month war over Kashmir, which was finally resolved in Washington when Mr. Nawaz Sharif met Mr. Clinton and finally decided to call it off.

DIANE REHM:So at this point where does it stand? It's peaceful?

KANTI BAJPAI: It's a cold peace. There are occasional exchanges of artillery fire. There may or may not be Pakistani troops up there, probably not. But there're militants crossing over from the Pakistani side into the Indian, and in the reverse fashion. And the Indian army is fighting those militants.

DIANE REHM:Ambassador Inderfurth, do you want to add to that?

KARL INDERFURTH: Well, I do because our greatest concern right now is that the two sides are not talking. One thing that has not been mentioned here, or discussed was that prior to this fighting and the Kargil crisis one summer ago last, was a Lahore summit in which Prime Minister Vajpayee of India traveled by bus to Lahore to meet Prime Minister Sharif. And this gave us all a great deal of hope, and optimism that finally the two sides were beginning to talk in a serious fashion. It was called bus diplomacy. And Prime Minister Sharif accepted an invitation to return by that bus to New Delhi.

So for the first time in 50 years we were beginning to see some hope that they would seriously address all of their outstanding differences, including Kashmir. Unfortunately, just a few months after that we had the Kargil crisis, where a Pakistani-backed insurgence went across a line of control, and they haven't been speaking since.

So our great concern, and this is what the president stressed when he was in New Delhi and Islamabad in March on his visit to the region, is that they need to have a resumption of dialogue; they need to start talking. I mean even as we see the Middle East peace process falter, at least there continues to be discussion between the parties. We don't see that in South Asia. We also think that both sides have to exercise mutual restraint, in large part because of their history of warfare and because of nuclear weapons.

DIANE REHM:Jessica Mathews, what kind of leverage does the U.S. have in the area?

JESSICA MATHEWS: Limited, but in my answer to your first question about what's happened since the testing, I left out one very important thing, which was the president's trip to India. And that has really made a dramatic change in the relationship between the two countries, and led to Prime Minister Vajpayee's return trip here to Washington a month ago. The U.S.-Indian relationship is now far better than it has been for a very long time, which leaves us the opportunity to play a much larger role than we had before, because really the center of gravity of events and momentum here is in New Delhi and not in Pakistan.

So that was a very important step. Unfortunately, of course, we're going to lose President Clinton who is really responsible for this in just a few weeks. So what will happen after the election, it's too bad that the timing of the trip doesn't leave us more time to exploit it in a positive sense.

DIANE REHM:Kanti Bajpai?

KANTI BAJPAI: Yes, I think a couple of thoughts on that. First of all, it seems to me just looking at the two candidates in the U.S. today, the Bush campaign mentioned India fairly prominently I think in their foreign policy manifesto. And Vice President Gore of course was on the Clinton team. Of course, he's his own man, but he will inherit something from the previous administration surely. So I think perhaps both candidates will take the India-U.S. relationship forward in a positive kind of way. And I think it's undergirded by the fact that across the two visits there's been a greater institutionalization of the India-U.S. relationship, a whole series of agreements to have subcommittees and so on to deal with trade, technology, energy and so forth. So there's a much broader basis for the relationship than ever before.

JESSICA MATHEWS: I think if I could just add, I think there are two key issues that could change dramatically depending on who is elected. One is the Comprehensive Test Ban, Governor Bush has said very clearly it's dead if he's elected. And the Clinton administration and Vice President Gore are trying to get a second chance in the Senate for it. And that has a great deal of potential to reanimate movement toward restraint in South Asia. The other issue is national missile defense.

The other thing we haven't mentioned that we need to is China. If Governor Bush moves aggressively to deploy a national missile defense, which China -- of a deployment that will threaten China, and China responds by modernizing and greatly increasing the number of its missiles, Prime Minister Vajpayee said quite explicitly when he was here in Washington, if China does that India will be "forced to respond". So we have to be careful not to think of this as India-Pakistan, but India-China-Pakistan, which is how it plays out here.

DIANE REHM:But isn't one of the keys to this whole thing the Taliban and how the Taliban responds both to the leadership in Pakistan, as well as how it may affect negotiations on this whole issue between the U.S. and Pakistan, in terms of economic aid for example?

KARL INDERFURTH: Diane, we have been speaking to the leaders in Pakistan for some time about our concerns about the direction of Afghanistan and the Taliban regime there. Pakistan is one of three countries that actually has recognized the Taliban. So we believe that Pakistan has a great deal of influence. The spill-over effect of the continued fighting in Afghanistan, narcotics issues relating to terrorism and the fact that Osama bin Laden resides in safe haven in Afghanistan, the human rights abuses, we believe all of these things will place Pakistan at risk if they are not addressed. And therefore we have urged Pakistan to use its influence with the Taliban to turn these things around, and to bring the Taliban to a position of talking, negotiating for a peaceful resolution with their opposition there. But, we are very concerned about what is sometimes referred to as the possible Talibanization of Pakistan.

DIANE REHM:How likely is that, Kahled Ahmed?

KAHLED AHMED: I think one has to look at the changing policy in Washington. Pakistan has become more isolated over this time, and India has moved closer to the United States. I think another factor which is emerging in Washington is China's role. China is being seen increasingly as a rival, and less as a trading partner. And I think in the coming days the United States may lean more towards India and see it as a partner in some kind of alliance against the growth of Chinese influence, a Chinese threat in that part of the world.

We know that the United States has certain demands placed on Pakistan. But the Pakistan government feels that it doesn't have the power to actually implement some of those things. For instance, in contrast to what Washington may think, Pakistan has less influence on the Taliban in Afghanistan. If you look at the various statements issued by interior ministers, some of them are pretty tough on Afghanistan, but nothing happens later. I think, more dangerously, the Pakistan government may issue orders which may not be obeyed.

DIANE REHM:What kinds of orders?

KAHLED AHMED: Orders to follow up on some of the demands that Pakistan has made on Afghanistan for the expulsion of terrorists from there. We have placed this demand on Kandahar. We have asked them to return those people and expel them from the Afghan territory. On the other side, the response is that they are not terrorists on our territory.

DIANE REHM:So in fact, Pakistan ends up walking a very fine line.

KAHLED AHMED: Pakistan's record on cooperation with the United States with regard to terrorism has been very good. The only sticking point is really what to do with Osama bin Laden. And what happened two years ago was not a good thing, because if you attack Afghanistan, say, like it was done in '98, there is going to be no impression, because it's a wasteland, it's been pulverized so many times in the past that more bombardment is not going to yield any results.

Of course it all depends on if there is some kind of innovation in the American policy towards Osama bin Laden and terrorism which radiates from Afghanistan, and Pakistan will cooperate. Pakistan needs to cooperate, and it has said so.

As for economic troubles, I think Pakistan is being punished for not complying with all these demands. And there is a very strong opinion inside Pakistan that the government should comply and restrain some of these militias which are now a threat to the civil society in Pakistan.

DIANE REHM:And, of course, now you've got the name of Osama bin Laden involved with the explosion of the U.S.S. Cole. So a whole other area, Jessica Mathews?

JESSICA MATHEWS: Of course, this all goes back to U.S. training of insurgents during the Afghanistan conflict, which were trained on Pakistani territory and these things gather a life which is hard to turn off later. And on top of it, there is the question of whether Pakistan has learned the wrong lesson from Afghanistan in the Kashmir conflict, that is that if they can keep terrorist low intensity conflict going long enough, the Indians might give up and pull out in the same way the Russians pulled out of Afghanistan. Now, there are some people who apparently believe that, and I think the situations are, in fact, very different. But, whether it will turn out that bin Laden was responsible for the Cole attack or not, we don't know yet.

DIANE REHM:Ambassador Inderfurth, Pakistani papers are reporting that the U.S. might be preparing for a possible retaliatory strike against Afghanistan. What do you believe is going to happen?

KARL INDERFURTH: Well, the first thing that we must do is make a determination of who is responsible for the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, and that final determination has not been made. And until it is we cannot judge what would be the appropriate U.S. response. So I think that that would be where we are at this stage.

But I do want to say something about terrorism in Afghanistan. It is not just bin Laden. The fact is that there are terrorist training underway in Afghanistan, and those being trained, they are making their way into Central Asia, to Uzbekistan; they're making their way into Kashmir and continuing what they call the jihad in Kashmir. They are making their way to Chechnya. The Russians are very concerned about that. So we want to see steps taken about that, as well as bin Laden. We recognize that Pakistan does not control the Taliban. The Taliban are Afghans and very independent, and they are tough fighters. We recognize that, but Pakistan does have influence, and we want to see Pakistan use that.

We also recognize that Pakistan is in very deep trouble with its economy. And as we have in the past supported IMF packages and support for Pakistan, we will look at what the IMF is now negotiating with Pakistan to see if we can support that.

DIANE REHM:All right. Karl Inderfurth is Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs. At 23 before the hour, you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. And we'll open the phones now to Goshen, Indiana. Kevin, good morning.

CALLER: Good morning. Thanks for a good program. Your guests are giving very good analysis. Have a two-part question. I work for Project Abolition, which is a coalition of groups in this country working on nuclear disarmament issues. The first has to do with the U.S. government's role, and given that the U.S. has shown an unwillingness to get serious about moving toward nuclear disarmament, can the U.S. government play any credible role in encouraging India and Pakistan to give up their nuclear weapons. And despite what Ms. Mathews said before, I'm skeptical that just ratifying the test ban treaty would be good enough.

Now, apart from the United States government's role, what can concerned Americans, concerned citizens who are in favor of peace and disarmament do to support voices for peace and moderation among Indians and Pakistanis.

DIANE REHM: Jessica Mathews?

JESSICA MATHEWS: Well, I think there is a huge -- I agree, that the CTB is not enough, but it is a lot. All right. We pushed for a comprehensive test ban for decades, and now that we've got it if the U.S. were not to ratify it, it would be a blow to the international regime that would mean a great deal. And it does, in my judgment, significantly reduce our ability to influence international events.

DIANE REHM:And maybe at this point we should get Ambassador Inderfurth to explain just why the U.S. decided not to participate in that test ban treaty.

KARL INDERFURTH: Well, I think you would have to ask the Senate, as opposed to the executive branch. We very much wanted to participate in it, and again, we are continuing our efforts with the Senate. General Shalikashvili is talking with Senate leaders about how to address their concerns, and hopefully bring that back to the Senate again. But, I do take issue with the notion that the United States is not moving toward dramatic reductions in our own nuclear arsenals. We have made enormous progress in cutting back our missile systems and through the START process with the Russian Federation, and more effort is being made in that regard. We also are taking the approach towards India and Pakistan that we want to see restraint. We recognize that until some of these underlying issues are resolved, they are not going to give up their nuclear weapons. We would like to see them move in that direction, but what we would like to see is restraint. And as has been mentioned here, China is very much a part of that.

DIANE REHM:All right. Jessica, our caller also asked about citizen participation.

JESSICA MATHEWS: Right. I think there is a longer list of important decisions, how much effort we put into a fissile material cut off treaty, that is a treaty that would commit people to stop making more plutonium and highly enriched uranium that fuel these weapons. That's an important other step.

A third is the whole question of national missile defense. So citizens views on that are crucial. I would disagree with Rick that we're making progress on START. We certainly have made major cuts, and nobody should underestimate the progress that has been made. There's a difference between 10,000 weapons and 6,000, as there is between 6,000 and zero. But, there is an important role for citizens to influence the discussions and to understand what's at stake with the national missile defense.

DIANE REHM:All right. Jessica Mathews of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. We'll take a short break, then more of your calls. ... And as we talk about the balance of power, and the situation going on in South East Asia, we'll take your calls, 1-800-433-8850. Now to Herndon, Virginia, Reese (sp), you're on the air.

CALLER: Good morning, Diane.

DIANE REHM:Good morning. Yes, sir.

CALLER: Good morning to you, Diane. It's always a pleasure to listen to your issues, your programs that you address national and international issues. It was quite a pleasant surprise to actually turn the radio on and hear we have an India-Pakistan dispute on.

I have a brief comment and a question to your panel.


CALLER: And my comment is that the India and Pakistan which are on the brink of a nuclear, perhaps, future, God-forbid, war could do a lot better in serving over a billion people economically than spending their meager resources on armaments, and I believe that the United States has a moral responsibility in resolving the grassroots issue of Kashmir, which has been the sticking point between the two countries, and even other countries.

The U.S., as being the signatory of the U.N. resolution, has been inept and unfair to Pakistan and, to a certain extent, India, as well, and predominantly the Kashmiri people in not helping implement the resolution to alleviate the problem. And I'll hang up and listen to the response of your panelists and yourself.

DIANE REHM:All right.

CALLER: Thank you very much again.

DIANE REHM:Thank you.

Ambassador Inderfurth?

KARL INDERFURTH: Well, fortunately, I don't believe that the two countries are on the brink of nuclear war, although the concern about their nuclear missile competition is one that we share. I do believe that should so more. We cannot mediate the Kashmir dispute, as we have said publicly over and over again. But we can demonstrate our concern, and that's something that President Clinton has done during his time in office, and I trust and I believe that the next president should and will pick up that same concern.

I believe that it is possible for India and Pakistan to resolve this. I don't think it's beyond the grasp of the two countries. If the leaders have the political will and courage it can be addressed. I think the United States should do everything we can to support that process.

DIANE REHM:Kahled Ahmed?

KAHLED AHMED: I think there is no doubt that the Kashmiri dispute has to be resolved, because that is at the root of the unrest in Pakistan, and what is going on inside Kashmir today. As I said before, the acquisition of nuclear devices has not made these two countries safe for this reason. And the United States has always stood for bilateral talks, and I agree with Kanti when he says that in 1972 the two countries decided to resolve this dispute bilaterally. And that took away some of the force of the U.N. Security Council resolutions. Of course, India and Pakistan have two opposed narratives on Kashmir, and they don't meet anywhere. But today, if the United States wants India and Pakistan to talk together, it has to see that these talks are substantive and not merely rhetorical, because there is a tendency to meet and to reject each other's point of view, and then go away. Pakistan is on record as actually wanting U.S. mediation. India rejects that. And I think if I were India, I would go for it.

DIANE REHM:Kanti Bajpai.

KANTI BAJPAI: Well, I think it's true that the U.N. resolutions exist and were accepted all around, but the Indian contention is that that was more than 50 years ago and a great deal of water has flowed under the bridge.

DIANE REHM:But what about U.S. mediation today?

KANTI BAJPAI: I think that's virtually impossible from New Delhi's point of view.


KANTI BAJPAI: I think New Delhi's view still is that mediation may not be altogether "fair." And it draws on past history to make that point, whether altogether justified or not. And I think there would be an awful amount of turmoil in India if there was mediation, and no government, I think, today in India seriously could go into talks with Pakistan on Kashmir with the possibility of mediation.

DIANE REHM:What do you think the outcome might be should the U.S. go in and try to mediate this?

KANTI BAJPAI: Well, first of all, as I think Mr. Inderfurth said, it isn't U.S. policy to do so.

Secondly, this is not the Middle East. I mean, I think a lot of people draw the parallel to the Middle East. And all said and done, Israel and the Arab states are relatively small states, they're much more amenable, I think, to U.S. influence, although I recognize influence flows the other way as well. But I think India and Pakistan, we're looking at two mega-states of huge capacities. India is a billion people and counting. Pakistan is the seventh or eighth largest country in the world in terms of population. These are very prickly, big states. And I don't think, particularly on the Indian side, they're going to agree to mediation. It's hard to imagine then how the United States can really pull-push it.

KAHLED AHMED: Can I comment here, Diane?

DIANE REHM:Certainly.

KAHLED AHMED: I think if Pakistan were to know what the current position, unofficial position on Kashmir is on Washington, Pakistan will also resign from the earlier position of asking U.S. mediation. I think India has to delink from the Cold War period of history when they developed this attitude towards the United States. But to make India and Pakistan talk meaningfully to each other and actually determine a status quo among themselves, it's very important that there be a third party which can persuade them to talk.

And I think one reason -- of course, India has a very punitive attitude towards Pakistan today. It doesn't want to talk; it doesn't want to talk about other matters which could have actually improved the situation, like the Iranian pipeline going through Pakistan to India. But if India were to look at the current American point of view, certainly emerging from the think tanks, it would see that the LOC becomes the international frontier. That would suit India down to the ground. But one section of this point of view, that is doing something about the Kashmiris' rights, perhaps would not be found likable in India.

DIANE REHM:Jessica, there's one portion there I don't understand.

JESSICA MATHEWS: LOC is the line of control, it is the demarcation line right now. I think the short answer to your question what would happen is that the Indians wouldn't play. They would simply reject that effort, and simply not participate.


JESSICA MATHEWS:Because the internationalization of the dispute in India's view shifts the premise of who is right in this towards Pakistan's side.

DIANE REHM:Is that what you believe?

KANTI BAJPAI: I think so. It's interesting that India was the country that took the dispute to the United Nations in the first place in 1948, and found that the United Nations treated it not as an act of war against India. India's point being that Kashmir had acceded to India. But really focused on the issue of peace and stability. And I think increasingly India found that that implied that both parties were at fault. Whereas, it was quite clear that it was raiders from Pakistan who had raided Kashmir in 1948. This is the Indian point of view, and they don't want that equation.

DIANE REHM:All right. Let's go to Cincinnati, Ohio. Good morning, Edwin. Not there.

Let's go to Matthew in San Antonio, Texas.

CALLER: Good morning, Diane.

DIANE REHM:Good morning, sir.

CALLER: Diane, I just think that it's absolutely tragic that we're having this conversation today about India and Pakistan, and that if, indeed, at the end of the Cold War Clinton had engaged in the region and had gone there then instead of at the end of his term, then maybe India wouldn't have needed to prove its importance to the world and gone through with the testing, and I really don't think we would be in this situation. We would have been able to be an honest broker, but instead now India still sees us in light of the Cold War, where we were adversaries instead of allies.

DIANE REHM:Kanti Bajpai, would an earlier visit have changed things?

KANTI VAJPI: Well, the what ifs of history are very tricky.

DIANE REHM:Of course.

KANTI BAJPAI: But I think there's some sense in that statement. Clinton was due to come, it got pushed off, and the tests, of course, pushed the visit off even further. But I think that there was an issue of being sort of taken seriously in India of being seen as a power with some status. In many ways, after the Cold War, although Indians had looked forward to the end of the Cold War, they felt that they were more vulnerable and weak than ever for a variety of reasons. So, I think that engaging in a serious dialogue with India and Pakistan would have helped.

DIANE REHM:Kanti Bajpai, visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.

At seven minutes before the hour, you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show.

KARL INDERFURTH: Diane, I would like to just underscore that point.

DIANE REHM:Yes, sir.

KARL INDERFURTH: President Clinton had planned to travel there in 1997 as part of the 50th Anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan. There were new national elections called in India, which postponed that, and then, of course, we had the nuclear tests. So this is -- unfortunately were not able to make that trip until the end of his second term, but we had wanted to go earlier, and he wanted to be involved much earlier than he got involved.

DIANE REHM:All right.

To Ann Arbor, Michigan, Awaj, you're on the air.

CALLER: Good morning, guys. I'm a political columnist. I'm a Pakistani student. And a couple of questions aimed at a couple of people on the board. Firstly for Mr. Inderfurth. Just discussing the meager "air time" which the Kashmir dispute gets, as a columnist, there are 30,000 students on a campus. It's diverse. It's really interesting to see where half the people don't know what's going on -- forget where Kashmir is -- just because of the lack of spine the U.S. media has shown in covering this conflict.

Secondly, for Mr. Bajpai, talking about India's stance, and Mr. Ahmed's stance on talking about India, just putting everything on the back burner, not pointing to Pakistan in any sort of way, not sending its crickets in there, not doing anything about anything, and how the dip in relations between the three countries, India, U.S. and Pakistan, since '72, how the dip has dipped in the favor after the Cold War, after the Russians pulled out, into India's favor. The Cold War in the end has been good for India and the U.S. in that sense, and the main beneficiary is the U.S., and Pakistan has obviously come out as the sole loser.

I was wondering in some sort of obscure way about how the Pakistani delinking in the process is fair, so to say, in non-diplomatic terms, but in just moral terms? I mean, question this as a person, a nation which has backed another nation is put on the back burner of international security affairs because it's not got a popularly elected government, democracy has collapsed.

DIANE REHM:All right. Thanks for your call.

Ambassador Inderfurth, do you want to comment?

KARL INDERFURTH: Well, I think that it is true that for a very long time South Asian affairs, India, Pakistan and Kashmir has been on the back burner. I think that we have been able to put it much higher in terms of U.S. priorities and attention during the last two years. I do think that more attention should be paid. There's an expression about the Kashmir dispute that India cannot lose it, Pakistan cannot win it, and the Kashmiris themselves cannot survive it. It must be addressed, and I hope that the United States can continue to play a useful role there.

DIANE REHM:Kanti Bajpai?

KANTI BAJPAI: yes. I think on Kashmir that there are some hopeful signs. I mean, I think it's not all gloom and doom. The Hezbollah Mujahadeen, perhaps the biggest Kashmiri militant group, in July called a brief cease fire. The cease fire broke down very quickly, but I think that that's one opening.

In April of this year, the Indian government signaled that it was willing to hold talks with any Kashmiri group, more or less without preconditions, and I think perhaps that's another important opening.

There have been various groups in India who have begun to engage Kashmiri groups, and I think that's a third hopeful sign.

DIANE REHM:Kahled Ahmed, how do you see it?

KAHLED AHMED: I think if India and Pakistan agree to formally talk to each other, and those talks are properly orchestrated, there will be some change on the ground in what is happening in Kashmir because most of these people are going from Pakistani territory into Kashmir.

DIANE REHM:And finally to you, Jessica Mathews.

JESSICA MATHEWS: Well, I think these last two exchanges have captured the dilemma that faces the United States government right now. First, of course, the history here doesn't go back to 1992, it goes back decades. And there have been periods when the U.S. has ignored India. And, at the same time, we now, I think, understand better than we ever did before it happened that India's primary motivation in going nuclear was to reach the high table of international affairs, to establish national identity. And so now, we are paying attention, which proves to them that they were right.

DIANE REHM:Well, I want to thank you all and say I'm sorry the discussion must end now. We'll come back to it.

Thanks for joining us.