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December 26, 2001

"We do not want war, but war is being thrust on us and we will have to face it." Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Pakistan's armed forces "are fully prepared and capable of defeating all challenges." Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf


Both India and Pakistan in recent days have deployed substantial combat forces to important strategic areas along their borders and with tension continuing to mount the Indian army has ordered residents in border villages to leave. The powerful Indian air force has moved more equipment to the frontier bases both to bring units based there up to full war strength and to further reinforce them with more Fighter units from Central and Eastern Commands. Indian defence ministry officials pointedly say that they are only responding to a massive troop build-up by Pakistan.

Heavy machine-gun fire and continual shelling by both sides forward positions continued through much of the last three nights in the Galahar sector of the Jammu region of Kashmir during which the Indian army said it had destroyed eight Pakistan bunkers in response to the killing of two Indian soldiers on patrol in the area on Sunday.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has clearly concluded that Pakistan was responsible for a suicide attack on India's Parliament and has since withdrawn his ambassador to Pakistan and ordered a shutdown of cross-border train services. In a clear statement of the level of anger felt in India Mr Vajpayee said "There is worry in many nations about what will happen if there is a war between India and Pakistan" he went on to add "We do not want war, but war is being thrust on us and we will have to face it."

Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf response was to warn India against any aggression."Let me assure my countrymen that your armed forces are fully prepared and capable of defeating all challenges," he added, quoting Pakistan's founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah ."Relations could improve provided the Indian government will shed the superiority complex and will deal with Pakistan on an equal footing"

Tensions have markedly increased since the December 13th attack on the Parliament in New Delhi and the number of clashes have grown since in Kashmir, an area that has bedevilled relations between the two states for over fifty years and resulted in four major conflicts. In an informal briefing before the Cabinet Committee on Security, the Army Chiefs of Staff have already expressed their preparedness for war and appear to have come to the somewhat dubious conclusion that any action against the Pakistan controlled areas of Kashmir would not lead to a large-scale conflagration since Pakistan's present political situation would not allow its army to undertake a full-fledged war with India.

High-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned spy drones are keeping a close watch on Pakistani army movement while satellites are being used to identify terrorist camps in the Pakistan controlled area's of Kashmir. India's Defence Research and Development Organisation has also developed a sophisticated manpack Battlefield radar and these have been rushed into use. Short-range and light, the radar's weighing only 30 kg, they can spot a crawling man from 500 metres, a walking man from 2 km, and a group of men from 5 km and would prove invaluable in the difficult terrain of much of Kashmir and are in addition to the new long-range Battlefield surveillance radars purchased from Israel and France

>From the tactical intelligence gained, the Indian Chiefs of Staff will decide on which of the several options that are available to them. These include a substantial ground attack penetrating upto 25kms inside the Line of Control with full air cover or a comprehensive US-style bombing assault using Mirage-2000 and Sukhoi-24 supersonic attack fighters along with the first use of the 200km Prithvi ballistic missiles in a 24-36 hour air blitz.

However, most independent observers are doubtful that if the conflict escalates in Kashmir that a wider war along the international borders between India and Pakistan could be avoided for long. The knock-on effects of a major conflagration involving two nuclear armed powers on Afghanistan, relations with China, the US War on Terrorism and the overall stability of the South Asia could be incalculable and both the United States and the UK governments are privately expressing serious concern.

Acute pressure is being applied by the State Department on both Islamabad and New Delhi to do everything possible to avoid an all out war and the United States is acutely aware of how closely mirrored India's reactions to a long series of Islamic provocation's culminating on 12-13 are to the events of 9-1. So too is the distrust and growing irritation with General Musharref's regime in Pakistan.

Britain's hard pressed Security and Police services will no doubt have been warned to prepare contingency plans to deal with any overspill of any conflict onto the crowded streets of a number of major UK cities where the two immigrant communities live in close proximity. Although there was little or no trouble between ethnic Indians and Pakistanis during past wars, under the heightened tensions prevailing since the Islamic attacks on the USA the chances for inter-communal violence in Britain is now far greater.

The nightmare that any conventional conflict between these two heavily armed Asian States could slip into a limited nuclear exchange should be sufficient to spoil the New Year holidays of most senior politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. Richard M. Bennett - AFI Research, London


By Laurinda Keys

NEW DELHI, India -- Associated Press, 26 December: India said its missiles were "in position," air force jets flew near the Pakistan border every few minutes and frontier forces exchanged gunfire Wednesday as the two nuclear-armed nations prepared for a war both say they don't want.

India's Cabinet Committee on Security was meeting Wednesday evening to discuss further diplomatic pressure on Pakistan, including a possible ban on Pakistan airline flights, abrogation of a water treaty, downgrading of embassies, and cancellation of Pakistan's "most favored nation" trading status.

"Missile systems are in position," Defense Minister George Fernandes told Press Trust of India. India's arsenal includes medium-range Russian missiles and the Indian-made Prithvi I, which can be fired from a mobile launcher and has a range of 93 miles.

Pakistan and Indian news media reported that Pakistani missiles - including medium-range Chinese-made weapons - had also been put on alert, while troops on both sides moved toward the border.

Both sides' missile systems can be converted to deliver nuclear warheads, but it is not clear whether such steps have been taken.

But he also criticized Muslim militants in Pakistan, who he said have "undermined Islam to a level that people of the world associate it with illiteracy, backwardness, intolerance."

India has demanded Pakistan take further steps against two Muslim militant groups that New Delhi accuses of being behind a Dec. 13 gun attack on Parliament that left 14 dead. Tensions between the two countries have spiraled, with India saying Pakistan's spy agency sponsored the attack, a charge Islamabad denies.

There have been daily exchanges of gunfire between the troops, although officials from both sides said the border region was relatively calm Wednesday.

In contrast to previous periods of tension with India, Pakistan has been more cautious with its rhetoric. Officials in Islamabad have declined comment, saying they do not wish to escalate the war of words.

Pakistan's position has been bolstered by its new presence on the world stage, which has increased with its cooperation with the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism.

Pakistan froze the assets of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, which India accuses in the Parliament attack and which are battling to end Indian rule in Kashmir. Pakistan also briefly detained the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed on Tuesday. But New Delhi said the steps fall far short of its demand that the groups' activities be halted and their leaders arrested and handed over to India.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their violent division at independence from Britain in 1947. Two of the wars have been over Kashmir, the mostly Muslim Himalayan region that is divided between them. Both claim all of it.

"We do not want war, but war is being thrust on us and we will have to face it," Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said at a public address at his residence Tuesday, celebrating his 77th birthday.

India recalled its ambassador from Islamabad and announced plans to shut down train and bus service between the two countries on Jan. 1, saying the diplomatic offensive is intended to pressure Musharraf to take strong action against the guerrillas.

Islamic militants have carried out strikes in the Indian part of the Kashmir region since 1989, fighting for independence or merger with Pakistan in an insurgency that human rights groups say has killed more than 60,000 people. India says the militants have also struck elsewhere, including at Parliament, where 14 people, including five attackers, were killed.

Musharraf condemned the Parliament attack, but said he would take no action without proof against the militants, whom he calls "freedom fighters." He denies that his government helps or has any control over them.

India is also lobbying for international pressure on Pakistan, comparing the militants with the terrorist network that the U.S.-led coalition is fighting in Afghanistan.

Soldiers traveled to the border state of Rajasthan by train Wednesday and air force jets flew over the border town of Jaisalmer every seven minutes.

However, despite anti-aircraft batteries posted at airports and the army turning schools into bunkers, there were signs that war was not the first priority.

A summit of the seven South Asian leaders - including Vajpayee and Musharraf - remained scheduled for next week in Katmandu, and Nepal said it had assurances that both men intended to come.

News reports quoted Indian military sources as saying they would not be ready for a full-scale war for several months and would prefer to avoid fighting in the winter.

Comment on these article(s)

December 2001


U.S. and Israel Now Have Iraq In Their Sights
(December 31, 2001)
Britain's Telegraph Newspaper is well-plugged in with both the Americans and the Israelis, and is helping fan the flames of the likelier than not upcoming collision with Iraq. At the moment the U.S. is short of cruise missiles.

Sub-Continent Rushes Toward Conflagration
(December 31, 2001)
Pakistan and India are readying their military forces - including their ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons - for war.

Israelis Preparing The Way for 2002 - Now a Potentially Cataclysmic Year
(December 31, 2001)
Yasser Arafat remains under town siege in Ramallah, and his personal as well as historical nemesis, Ariel Sharon, continues to attempt to provoke more Palestinian hatred and violence which he will then use to justify still further Israeli military escalations, potentially cataclysmic in the year about to begin.

"We Will Win Nuclear War"! Crisis Escalates Further!
(December 31, 2001)
As the year turns, not since fourty years ago, not since1962 and the "Cuban Missile Crisis", has the world faced the possibility of an iminent orgastic nuclear war between two major countries.

The "Muslim" Bomb - Both Pakistan and Iran now Targeted in addition to Iraq
(December 30, 2001)
The Israelis have a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons; and in fact helped instigate the very regional arms race they are now so worried about; then fueled it further by ongoing attempts to crush and subjugate the Palestinians while colonizing still more territories.

Now, let's talk about terrorism, shall we?
(December 30, 2001)
If you are still shaken by the horrifying scenes of September 11, please observe a moment of silence for the 5,000 civilian lives lost in the New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania attacks. While we're at it...

"Internationals" Victorious For The Day Over Israeli Army
(December 30, 2001)
You've got to hand it to these international activists, they are succeeding at the moment at least in drawing attention to what the Israeli occupation is really all about, they are putting their bodies on the line, they have now finally after so many years and provocations begun to organize and demonstrate for real. But there are a few serious problems in this.

India-Pakistan War Brews - Potential Nuclear Conflagration Looms
(December 29, 2001)
No matter what American and Israeli officials now say in public, at some point the "war against terrorism" as defined in Washington and Jerusalem was likely to begin to quickly expand in unforeseen ways in both the Middle East and the sub-continent.

Islamic Militants Attack Israeli Patrol, Defying Arafat's Truce Call
(December 29, 2001)
Ignoring Yasser Arafat's truce order, two members of the militant Islamic Jihad group on Friday attacked an Israeli army patrol in the Gaza Strip in a failed suicide mission.

(December 28, 2001)
"I wouldn't be the least surprised if there were a nuclear explosion in Israel or the United States." Congressman Chris Shays (R-Conn.) Chairman of the House subcommittee on national security

The Real "OBSTACLE TO PEACE", and Egypt Targets Women - MER FLASHBACK
(December 28, 2001)
It's front-page news! Bill Clinton says Israeli settlements are an "obstacle" to peace. But this isn't the real story; nor are settlements the real obstacle.

(December 26, 2001)
Both India and Pakistan in recent days have deployed substantial combat forces to important strategic areas along their borders and with tension continuing to mount the Indian army has ordered residents in border villages to leave.

Pakistan warns of nuclear conflict with India!
(December 25, 2001)
As in Palestine, the Kashmir conflict originally resulted from Western policies in the last century. Now both conflicts threaten to explode into wars of mass destruction in this century.

The Terrible State of the Palestinians
(December 24, 2001)
After all his bluster and threats, Yasser Arafat remains essentially an Israeli prisoner in Ramallah, one of the militarily-surrounded Palestinian Bantustans that Arafat himself helped create when he put his pen to various Israeli schemes for which he received, quite literally, billions of dollars in payoffs and arms which he then distributed to cronies and entourage to keep himself in power.

Holy Land ShowDown - Will He or Won't He?
(December 24, 2001)
An atmosphere of tension and expectation has descended on Bethlehem as Palestinians wait to see whether their leader, Yasser Arafat, will successfully defy an Israeli ban on his travelling to the town for a highly symbolic Christmas Mass.

Israel Searches Convoy for Arafat...Political Brinksmanship Awaits Clock
(December 24, 2001)
As the clock ticks toward Christmas Eve and Midnight a grand game of political brinksmanship is underway between the two old protagonists, Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat.

Israel Prepares For Arafat's "Walk" or Copter to Bethlehem
(December 23, 2001)
It's even possible Arafat could tomorrow win this round in what has evolved into a kind of personal Sharon-Arafat political wrestling match. We're all anxiously waiting to see just how this drama is going to unfold Monday; and whether Arafat can even approach the political skill and timing of Mahatma Gandhi.

Arab Regimes Helped Bring Sharon To Power - MER FlashBack
(December 23, 2001)
It was the Arab client regimes themselves, especially the Hashemites in Jordan and the Egyptians, who actually helped bring Ariel Sharon to the pinnacle of power in Israel. This from MER archives four years ago:

"It's a humiliation for the entire Palestinian people"
(December 23, 2001)
"This is an example of the arrogance of occupation. It's a humiliation for the entire Palestinian people, Christians and Muslims... Sharon is playing with fire -- he wants blood and tears instead of Christmas carols."

Yasser's Historic Moment Monday To Walk Peacefully Into History
(December 22, 2001)
As we said the other day, we're all aware that Yasser Arafat's record of doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons in the right way is rather tarnished, to say the least. But even tarnished almost consumed historic figures sometimes have their possible moments of historic redemption.

War Year 2002 - Stage Set for "Transferring" Palestinians, "Jordan is Palestine"
(December 22, 2001)
If major wars and more "terrorist incidents" break out in the Sub-Continent and elsewhere in the Middle East region, as now seems likely in the weeks and months immediately ahead, that is just what Ariel Sharon and the "right-wing" Israelis -- with at least acquiescence from Barak, Peres and the so-called "left-wing" Israelis -- have been waiting for.

Darkness in the Once Holy Land
(December 21, 2001)
"The Oslo agreements were a sham... The understanding on the Palestinian side was that Oslo would eventually lead to Israeli withdrawal from the territories. In fact, the accords turned into a state-run land grab of astounding proportions..."

Arafat Threatens to Walk to Bethlehem - NewsFlash!
(December 21, 2001)
Just a week ago now MER wrote of the urgent need for Arafat to "do a Gandhi". "Message to Arafat - Do a Gandhi, right now, before it's too late!" was the title of the MER article published last Friday at this time. And it seems MER's impact is even greater than we imagined!

U.S. and Israel Cozier And More Intertwined Than Ever
(December 21, 2001)
The United States plans to offer Israel an expanded missile defense cooperation relationship. The cooperation is meant to follow the model of the current U.S.-Israeli Arrow-2 joint program.

Time to Suspend Israel from the U.N. General Assembly
(December 20, 2001)
The General Assembly could act seriously today; it has the power. And there is the precedent as well -- South Africa in the days of Apartheid. The U.S. has no veto in the GA; something that under today's conditions, and precisely because of last week's "astounding" Security Council veto, should be acted upon.

"So let's hope the president will resist the siren calls for new wars"
(December 20, 2001)
Warnings have already come, and in public, from all over. The Germans, the French, the U.N., there's already quite a long list. But the Americans are definitely planning to march forward on their crusade...there are many "phases" already not just planned but in various forms of execution.

Peres Himself "Shudders"; and "Evil" Israeli-Style Unleashed
(December 19, 2001)
Shimon Peres ought to know. This is hardly the first time the Israelis have been caught at what for most of the world deserve to be categorized as "war crimes." And for every time they have been caught there are ever so many other times that the dastardly things they have done have been successfully hidden from view, so far that is.

Thank You Der Spiegel
(December 18, 2001)
We've yet to see the full English translation of yesterday's important article by Publisher Rudolf Augstein of Der Spiegel. But right away we can certainly comment that it's about time German intellectuals and journalists realized that precisely because of their past they have a special obligation to stand up against racism and facism and brute militarism -- from whatever quarter it rears its ugly tentacles.

LIES, TRICKS, DECEPTIONS...then and now?
(December 17, 2001)
Was what the world watched a few days ago, originally broadcast direct from the Pentagon no less, the real OSB and the whole truthful story of the conveniently found and timed tape? Was this just a part of the real but more more complex and convoluted story? Was there a CIA Sting involved as has been reported by the establishment British press in London over the weekend?

Destroying Saddam/Bathist Regime Being Planned by US, Israel
(December 17, 2001)
When you send a recently retired Marine Corp General and regional Commander to the Middle East as your "Peace Negotiator" it's war not peace you have in mind. But the popular press is ever-so-gullible and compliant of course.

Neighborhood Bully - A Former U.S. Attorney General on American Militarism
(December 15, 2001)
When I picture a high-ranking government official, I think of someone who is corrupt. I think of a corporate shill. I think of someone who is not a friend to the people of this country. I think of Lord Acton's famous line about power corrupting, and absolute power corrupting absolutely.

Israeli Stage Set For Regional War and Destruction
(December 15, 2001)
"Arafat's real crisis is among his own people. They see him as just an Israeli sheriff who happens to speak their language."

Message to Arafat - Do a Gandhi, right now, before it's too late!
(December 14, 2001)
Palestinian support groups in the US and elsewhere are pathetically weak, terribly lead, and still engaged most of the time in rather juvenile uninformed internal debates about who is who and what is what. But even so, once and awhile there's a good idea circulated in their incestuous and bloated email forums, though there is hardly ever any follow-through in any serious way.

Arafat's Last Stand... European Betrayal... Devastation and Catastrophe...
(December 14, 2001)
"Arafat came as collaborator as much as liberator. For the Israelis, security - theirs, not the Palestinians' - was the be-all and end-all of Oslo. His job was to supply it on their behalf."

Arafat in Bunker; Israeli Missiles Seek Bin Laden; Propaganda Campaigns Escalate
(December 13, 2001)
Greatly emboldened because there have not been the kinds of major demonstrations and violent clashes in Arab and Muslim countries that some predicted, the U.S. and Israel have decided to push forward with crushing military power, still more covert CIA actions, and further administrative and financial restrictions worldwide.

Israelis Spies Held by U.S. While Israelis Unleash More Death and Destruction
(December 13, 2001)
The very day the White House went to great lengths to position the Israeli flag right behind the President, and to purposefully highlight the Star of David to the greatest degree possible, the whole subject of Israeli espionage against the U.S. has also unfurled once again.

Israeli Spying in USA, Part I
(December 13, 2001)

Israeli Spying in USA, Part II
(December 13, 2001)

Israeli Spying in USA, Part III
(December 13, 2001)

Israeli Spying in USA, Part IV
(December 13, 2001)

Boycott the USA Says Famous Egyptian
(December 12, 2001)
When Egypt's most popular television commentator, Hamdi Qandil, called for a boycott of U.S. goods, which his government opposes, it got past the censor. But he was stopped from repeating it.

Israel: The 51st State?
(December 12, 2001)
September 11th, 2001, has become the tragedy of opportunity for Israel; a perfect turning point in which the "war against terrorism" analogy has been fully exploited by Ariel Sharon's radical right-wing government to sustain, even intensify, the horrors of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

What Drives A Bomber to Kill the Innocent Child? MER FLASHBACK
(December 11, 2001)
I once asked the head of the Lebanese Hizbollah if he could explain to me how the mind of a suicide bomber works. Sayed Hassan Nasrallah was dressed in his black turban and robes. He had formerly been the Hizbollah's military commander in southern Lebanon and from his legions had emerged the first Arab suicide bombers who would - after more than a decade and a half - sap the morale of Israel's retreating army.

"...Symbol of Hatred and Fury of This Filthy War"
(December 10, 2001)
They started by shaking hands. We said 'Salaam aleikum' - peace be upon you - then the first pebbles flew past my face. A small boy tried to grab my bag. Then another. Then someone punched me in the back. Then young men broke my glasses, began smashing stones into my face and head.

Robert Fisk Nearly Beaten to Death
(December 9, 2001)
Robert Fisk is one of the world's preeminent experts about the Middle East and world affairs. He is the longest serving Western correspondent in the region. He is also an extraordinarily courageous person who always conducts himself with great determination, fortitude, and professionalism.

Just Call Me 'Uncle Jim', Saudi Propaganda, Academia Subverted - MER FLASHBACKS
(December 4, 2001)

Lies About "Peace" and a "Palestinian State" - Then and Now
(December 1, 2001)
More than twenty years ago now another American President was promising a complete "settlement freeze" and a "transitional period" leading to a "Palestinian State". The notion that George W. Bush is doing so for the first time, sui generis, is not only blatantly historically fallacious but downright disingenuous.

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