The armed forces of India and Pakistan entered the new year in their highest state of war readiness, with tanks,missile batteries and tens of thousands of troops massed on a border that stretches more than 900 miles. It is beingcalled the biggest mobilization the subcontinent has had since the Bangladesh war of 1971.
Indian and Pakistani troops traded mortar and heavy machinegun fire overnight around the Kashmir region, increasingfears that the conflict could flare into an all-out war. Both countries possess nuclear weapons and have gone to war3 times in the past. The intense firing comes just days before the leaders of both countries head to Nepal to attenda summit of the South Asian Association for Regional cooperation.
Over the past several weeks, New Delhi and Islamabad have cut back diplomatic relations. They have also halted air,train and bus services across the border.
Throughout the region there were hopes that this weekend’s summit in Kathmandu could help to diffuse the situation.But news reports today are quoting senior Indian officials as saying that a face-to-face meeting between the IndianPrime Minister AB Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff was “out of the question.”
We turn now to Achin Vanaik, a prominent Indian journalist and anti-nuclear activist who has written extensively onthe nuclearization of South Asia. He joins us today from his home in New Delhi.
Zia Mian, a Pakistani peace activist and scientist at Princeton University, is also on the line.
- Achin Vanaik, a prominent Indian journalist and anti-nuclear activist. His books include ??South Asia ona Short Fuse: Nuclear Politics and the Future of Global Disarmament and ??Testing Times: The Global Stake in aNuclear Test Ban, among others. He lives in New Delhi.
- Zia Mian, Pakistani Peace Activist and Scientist at Princeton University.