December 7, 2008


The Kashmir Connection: A Puzzle (TIM WEINER, 12/07/08, NY Times)

Here is some of what is known:

First, American intelligence officials are all but certain that Lashkar led the attacks, which left 163 people — including 18 members of India’s security forces — dead along with 9 suspected terrorists. “The same group that we believe is responsible for Mumbai had a similar attack in 2006 on a train and killed a similar number of people,” the director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, said last week in a speech at Harvard. “Go back to 2001 and it was an attack on the Parliament.” The Mumbai commuter train bombings killed at least 186. A dozen died in the assault on Parliament, which led to talk of war.

Second, Pakistan’s intelligence services have used Lashkar as a guerrilla force to fight India over their disputed border in Kashmir. That fight has raged since the British partitioned India and Pakistan in 1947. The rival nations went to war that year over Kashmir, and again in 1965 and 1971. Tens of thousands have been killed in political warfare since then.

Third, and most significantly, Lashkar’s roots, like Al Qaeda’s, lie in another war — the battle between Soviet forces occupying Afghanistan and Islamic rebels who fought them in the 1980’s. The rebels were backed by billions of dollars from the United States and Saudi Arabia. Their money and guns flowed through Pakistani intelligence.

In 1989, the Red Army left Afghanistan. The international Islamic holy warriors did not; many thousands of radicals from some 40 nations came to learn the lessons of jihad in Afghanistan, and Lashkar’s first foot soldiers were among them.

Lashkar was founded in 1989, supported by Saudi money and protected by Pakistani spies, according to Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s current ambassador to the United States, a former journalist who opposed Gen. Pervez Musharraf when the general was Pakistan’s ruler.

87 Pct in Kashmir Valley Want Independence - Poll (8/13/07)
Nearly 90 percent of people living in Indian Kashmir's summer capital want their troubled and divided state to become an independent country, according to a poll in an Indian newspaper on Monday.

India and Pakistan have fought and argued over the Himalayan region ever since partition in 1947, but 87 percent of people questioned in Srinagar have no allegiance to either side.

Only 3 percent of the mainly Muslim inhabitants of the city think Kashmir should become part of Pakistan, and 7 percent prefer Indian rule, the poll said.

But down in Jammu, the state's mainly Hindu winter capital in the plains to the south, 95 percent think Kashmir should be part of India.

Indians, Pakistanis flexible on Kashmir - poll (Krittivas Mukherjee, 7/17/08, Reuters)
People in India and Pakistan show a readiness to let the disputed region of Kashmir decide its own fate, and many would tolerate independence if that ended the long-running Himalayan conflict, a rare poll on the crisis said.

A poll by asked Indian and Pakistanis to consider a range of possible outcomes for the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir and to say whether they found them desirable, acceptable, tolerable, or unacceptable.

A majority of those surveyed would find independence at least tolerable if Kashmiris wanted it.

"Given the deep roots of the conflict over Kashmir, it is surprising the conflict does not muster clearly polarised majorities in Pakistan and India, falling in line behind their governments' positions," said Clay Ramsay, research director of

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 7, 2008 9:27 AM
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