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Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
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is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 06.03.02

JIM AUSTIN

Excuse my radiation

Looks like big trouble in South Asia. Again. Pakistan and India have been holding their own little cold-then hot-then cold-war since 1949.

Mahatma Gandhi was perhaps the world's best negotiator and he was totally frustrated by the leaders of the Muslim and Hindu communities. After the British did a cost analysis and decided they had wrung the last rupee they could out of India, they played some bagpipes and marched out of the subcontinent -- leaving utter chaos in their wake.

The major players, including Gandhi, eventually agreed on "partition" wherein Pakistan was established as a homeland for India's Muslims. Gandhi was against any separation but there was no way to get the Muslims and Hindus to agree on sharing power.

In order to put an exclamation point on this idea, the two sides clashed and a half million were killed.

Kashmir is an area that borders both India and Pakistan. In 1949, the Maharaja of Kashmir ceded his state to India. Only problem was that most of Kashmir is Muslim.

No doubt India slipped the Maharaja a few goats and a bag of sheep's eyeballs in order to get his OK on the deal.

The region ended up with a "line of control" in which Pakistan administers about one-third of Kashmir and India the rest. Since then there have been two wars fought over control of Kashmir.

There seems little doubt that Pakistani-trained radicals are screwing up the fragile peace. Basically, India pulled a fast one in '49 and Pakistan just couldn't get over it. The predilection for violence on both sides and Pakistan's cozy relationship with terrorists makes for another untenable situation. The difference is that both of these emotionally charged governments have a finger on the button.

If ever we needed U.N. support, now is the time. An exchange of nuclear missiles between these two would make Hiroshima look like a food fight. Millions could perish.

Odds are that Pakistan, with their lesser arsenal, would be the first to launch. India has signed a "No First Strike" law that supposedly precludes launching the first missile. Their capabilities are roughly twice that of Pakistan so the carnage would be apocalyptic should they be hit.

What a mess.

On our side, we have thrown our lot in with Pakistan with an eye to controlling terrorism. The good old USA has a self-appointed dictator in Karachi on the payroll who has pledged to control Al Quaeda terrorists and Taliban fighters for us while at the same time is countenancing the invasion of Indian Kashmir by Islamic terrorists.

Basically, we are in bed with a military dictatorship against the world's largest democracy. Good work, George. Way to think out of the box.

It seems to me that the U.N. has failed to fulfill their mission. These two countries have been warring for fifty years and the U.N. has tried in fits and starts to arbitrate their problems. Now they both have nukes, thanks to North Korea (axis of evil) and China (happy trading partner).

We are back on the tenterhooks that we hung around on for years when Khrushchev was pounding his shoe and threatening to bury us. The threat isn't directed at us this time but it ain't going to be pretty, either way.

And what do Pakistan and India plan to say to Afghanistan, Iran, Nepal, Tibet and, God forbid, China when their nuclear fallout starts decimate their respective populations: "Excuse my radiation?" or "Pardon the particles?"

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I think this is another disaster that we can lay at the feet of organized religion. And remember, "Islam means peace."

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