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May 05, 2003

THERE MAY ACTUALLY BE GOOD NEWS where India and Pakistan are concerned:

NEW DELHI After 16 months of stony silence, interrupted by the near outbreak of war last June, India and Pakistan are suddenly making all the right moves to start peace talks.

Monday, Pakistan raised the stakes by offering to get rid of its nuclear arsenal if India followed suit.

The reasons for this spring warming trend - initiated by India - are still coming to light. But they range from the swift US victory in Iraq and mounting concern over nuclear proliferation and terrorism to a legacy quest by India's ailing prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Interesting. Let's hope it pans out.

UPDATE: Several readers suggest that this isn't as good as it sounds. Here's how Scott Draeker puts it:

Pakistan's offer to India is not exactly good news. If taken at face value, it would leave China as the undisputed regional power -- with nukes. Pakistan is a client of China, so it's no surprise that they would extend this offer. It is in the US interest to see India emerge as a counterbalance to China in the region. However a non-nuclear India could not counterbalance a nuclear China.

With regard to proliferation, Indian nukes are not a problem. While the world would be a better place without Pakistani nukes, the proliferation concern is the same whether Pakistan fields them or not. I'm afraid they would continue to sell expertise, even finished weapons, at the right price.

There are only 4 countries in the world actively fighting Islamic terrorism: US, India, Russia and Israel. Those are the folks I'd like to see the US aligning with.

Yes, the India-as-counterweight-to-China issue is an important factor here, and I should have given it more attention.