Tags: The | Situation | Southern | Asia

The Situation in Southern Asia

Monday, 11 February 2002 12:00 AM

Last week, CIA Director George Tenet told a Senate intelligence committee that tensions between India and Pakistan remain high over the Dec. 13 terrorist attack in New Delhi, India, adding ominously that the two nations could resort to the use of nuclear weapons.

"We are deeply concerned that a conventional war, once begun, could escalate into a nuclear confrontation," Tenet said.

Nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan is the last thing we need in the middle of our war on international terrorism.

Two of our rather strange "partners" in the anti-terrorism coalition, however, think differently and are doing everything they can to increase tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Russia and Red China view the U.S. presence in Central and Southern Asia with horror. They understand that a potential American-Indian military alignment paired with the U.S.-Japanese alliance would envelop Moscow and Beijing in the region.

They are thus trying to do everything possible to destabilize the area's strategic landscape, particularly by increasing tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad.

On Feb. 6, Russian and Indian officials signed a protocol on military and technical cooperation that will give New Delhi a chance to get a Russian aircraft carrier and lease Russian nuclear submarines.

Transfer of a Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov, is part of a deal that includes India paying to refurbish the ship and buying two squadrons of carrier-based MiG-29 fighters.

India has been a key customer of Russian weapons since Soviet-era times, and the two countries negotiated new arms deals during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to India in October 2000.

Moscow, and Moscow alone, is behind India's nuclear and missile programs, which are based on Russian technologies and expertise.

The Indo-Russian military cooperation has flourished since last December's terrorist attack on India's Parliament in New Delhi and its resultant new wave of tension with Pakistan.

As NewsMax.com reported on Feb. 8 (See

To their dismay, the Chinese communists see the U.S. in the process of acquiring a new foothold in Central and Southern Asia and developing closer relations with Russia.

For years China has courted Pakistan as a means of intimidating India and has provided Islamabad with technologies and materials needed to produce ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

Beijing has long supported Pakistan's jihad in Kashmir, and Pakistani top military commanders met with their opposite numbers in Beijing at the height of the current India-Pakistan crisis, triggered by the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament.

Beijing has itself attempted to use "anti-terrorism" to justify its suppression of the Muslim independence movement in Xinjiang, but this conflict has nothing to do with Sept. 11.

Beijing knows full well that bin Laden's main focus was the U.S. and that he trained fighters for the war in Kashmir against India, but did not make the same effort to train fighters for Xinjiang because the al-Qaeda and Taliban network was created and backed by China's ally, Pakistan.

China's ambitions remain what they were before Sept. 11, and Beijing continues to see the U.S. as the main obstacle to fulfilling its ambitions and creating a unipolar Asia with Beijing as its center.

This Chinese gambit against India, however, was damaged by American pressure on Islamabad to curtail the infiltration of guerrillas into Kashmir, and by the elimination of the Taliban.

The recently renewed relationship between Pakistan and the U.S., including the end of U.S. sanctions and nearly $1 billion in U.S. aid, might have loosened China-Pakistan links. However, it isn't enough to prevent the current military conflict between Islamabad and New Delhi, encouraged and supported by our strange "partners," Russia and China.

According to press reports, President Bush will host Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf this week. Musharraf is bringing a lot of requests for additional American assistance with him.

This meeting poses an important challenge to Mr. Bush as he continues to advance America's strategic interests worldwide.

It could be a great opportunity for President Bush – who has already changed the strategic landscape in favor of America's long-term goals – to bring pressure to bear on the Pakistani leader to reduce the tension in his country's relationship with India.

Otherwise, the threat of military conflict in Southern Asia – which could very quickly escalate into nuclear confrontation – will only increase.

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Last week, CIA Director George Tenet told a Senate intelligence committee that tensions between India and Pakistan remain high over the Dec. 13 terrorist attack in New Delhi, India, adding ominously that the two nations could resort to the use of nuclear weapons. We are...
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Monday, 11 February 2002 12:00 AM
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