International House of Arm-Twisting

India needs to keep its bit of Muslim Kashmir under control, so the rest of India’s 120 Muslim’s don’t start getting ideas. But taking the whole thing would mean taking in more restless Muslims.


Pakistan has to keep its bit of Muslim Kashmir, because Islam is the only excuse for Pakistan’s existence. But taking the whole thing would require a war with India — a war Pakistan would lose.

It’s not really quite that simple, but close. Which leads Selig Harrison to conclude that the way to get peace in South Asia is to get the US to push Pakistan into accepting the status quo.

What is required is an unambiguous declaration by the United States that a permanent Kashmir settlement will have to rest on recognition of the 53-year-old cease-fire line as the permanent international boundary. Such a declaration by the United States and other major powers is the only way to get Pakistani leaders to dismantle their entire infrastructure for cross-border infiltration and to stop financial and military aid to the insurgents.

It’s a fine idea, but it doesn’t go far enough. It also fails to take into account Pakistan’s most pressing reason for keeping Kashmir at a simmer. First, simple US-arm twisting won’t get Pakistan to settle. It has to be a big international whoop-de-whoop, including Pakistan’s other major ally and arms supplier: China.


But even that might not work, because Islamabad has no legitimacy. Musharraf, while an improvement over most of the country’s rulers, is still a military man who stole power in an illegal coup. His fake referendum last spring didn’t change that. And how do dictators keep people distracted from being, well, dictated? That’s right, kids — foreign adventurism. It worked for Hitler, Tojo, every Soviet ruler, Nasser, Assad, you name it.

Without a legitimate government in Islamabad, there can be no legitimate peace with India.

Anyone see that happening any time soon?


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