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May 28, 1999
Nawaz Sharief might have been in the dark about intrusion: Western experts
Many Western experts agree with India about the possibility of militants in Kashmir being sponsored by Pakistan, or perhaps even by one of its intelligence agencies operating without government sanction or knowledge, says The New York Times.
The daily quoted Selig Harrison, a south Asia expert with the 20th Century Fund, as saying that while the Islamic militants have not been successful in Pakistan's elections, they have come to wield influence in the intelligence agencies. And one of those agencies, he said, could now be involved in support of the large guerilla presence in the remote mountains.
''I don't think Pakistani forces are all under unified control,'' he said. ''This may have been done without the knowledge of Nawaz Sharief.''
Whatever the makeup of the guerilla force, the Indian military has come under severe criticism for not discovering the extent of the separatist guerillas' incursion in Kashmir until early this month.
By then, the militants had secured the high ground, and dislodging them was too much for ground forces alone. Air power, never before employed in Kashmir, seemed necessary, the daily added.
''The Indians thought they had battered the hell out of the insurgents and could relax a bit,'' said Sumit Ganguly, an expert on Kashmir at Hunter College in New York. ''They were complacent and got caught entirely off-guard by all these people setting into the heights.''
This presents a distressing political problem for the caretaker Bharatiya Janata Party government. BJP leaders have built much of the party's reputation as defense hawks. Its leadership championed the nuclear bomb.
Now, with general elections but months away, the BJP leaders are being chastised for having bungled militarily by their political opponents. Some analysts wonder if the party might be tempted to recover its reputation through war.
''There has been a fundamental assault on their credibility,'' said George Perkovich, director of the Secure World Program at the W Alton Jones Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia.
''The BJP can't afford to lose in this confrontation -- or to appear Gandhian. I don't see how they can even afford to take the high ground and negotiate. They 're under intense pressure to use their military power,'' he added.
Several analysts predicted that India and Pakistan would indeed back away from further escalation, though all couched optimism with the possibility that bad blood could overwhelm good sense, said The New York Times.
''It's dangerous, but I tend to think it will simmer down,'' said Dennis Kux, a south Asia specialist at the Middle East Institute in Washington.
The daily said there are many unanswered questions about the 500 to 600 militants who have established well-fortified positions in northern Kashmir's snow-capped, oxygen-thin peaks. These guerillas are equipped with snowmobiles and heavy artillery, the Indians say, and they are being re-supplied by helicopter.
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