The latest news concerning the ongoing war in Kashmir indicates that India has agreed to talks with Pakistan over the crisis. The announcement came in the wake of Indian Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee's earlier rejection of Pakistan's proposal to send its Foreign Minister, Sartaj Aziz, for high-level talks. But tensions in Kashmir are far from being diffused as India stepped up its offensive Tuesday against Muslim insurgents entrenched in the mountains around the towns of Drass and Kargil.
The Delhi-based Hindustan Times Online reported Tuesday that Vajpayee has finally agreed to hold talks after having refused Pakistan's suggestion of meeting on June 7, calling that date "inconvenient." The first high-level talks between the two countries since Indian air strikes began on May 26 are now to be held on June 12. A Hindustan Times front page report notes that Vajpayee is open to discussing how Pakistan will stop the "infiltrators" from disrupting Kashmir. The paper's main editorial calls the conflict in Kashmir a "proxy war" and later drops all pretense and says that it was Pakistan itself that invaded India in violation of international law. But in a related report from the BBC, Indian officials are said to have reneged on this claim asserting instead that Pakistan used Kashmiri militants as cover for a covert invasion of neighboring India.
India's inability to quickly dislodge Kashmir's insurgents is revealed in a report by Britain's Electronic Telegraph, which tells of India's efforts to step up its offensive. The report even discloses a few figures concerning Indian casualties from a source within the Indian army who requested anonymity. The Telegraph goes on to note that tensions between the two countries were even evident in Tuesday's World Cup cricket match in England between India and Pakistan. As of early Tuesday however, the publication had not reported on the peace talks.
Singapore's Straits Times carries an AP/Reuters report that, likewise, fails to mention the scheduled peace talks. The report headlines an Indian claim that it has killed 221 Pakistani infiltrators in recent fighting. Although it later mentions Pakistan's rebuttal of this claim, the report refers to the Kashmiri insurgents as "Pakistanis" without crediting that label as being specifically an Indian claim. A Straits Times editorial calls the situation "South Asia's Balkan crisis" and says that India's efforts towards peace have been consistently betrayed by Pakistan. The editorial also asserts that India was slow to respond to the "Pakistani infiltrators."
The China Daily also does not cover the peace talks, concentrating instead on India's most recent upsurge in its offensive. Aside from the actions carried out in Drass and Kargil, the report says that the Indian army has relocated 3,000 Kashmiri civilians in order to step up artillery attacks on Pakistan from across the Line of Control. The China Daily also eludes to an Indian issued media ban in Kashmir, which has been in place since June 6, and speculates that India could be planning an even larger offensive.
Pakistan's Dawn runs an Agence France Presse wire report concerning the peace talks and also summarizes a Pakistani report from the Starr, saying that the talks have only been agreed to by India because India has been unable to dislodge the insurgents.
A Dawn opinion piece addresses what it calls the root cause of the controversy: India's claim that the Kashmiri separatists are Pakistani infiltrators. The article says that Kashmir's internal liberation struggle began without Pakistan's involvement and continues as such with all the legitimacy of a true freedom movement.
Zakariya Wright is a staff writer at iviews.com