Pakistan version of Kasmiri flag.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told the UN General Assembly last week the Kashmir dispute was the most dangerous facing the world.
India insists it will not hold talks over Kashmir until its neighbour cuts ties to cross-border terrorism. Pakistan is demanding India observes a ceasefire along the Line of Control dividing the state. The two nuclear states appear further away than ever from compromise. What do political and military leaders inside Kashmir make of it? Matt Grant went to meet them.
General S K Sinha says Kashmir is nothing new to him. India and Pakistan first went to war over Kashmir within months of their independence. And General Sinha led the Indian troops, fighting back the Pakistan army from the outskirts of the capital Srinagar.
General Sinha is India’s new governor in Kashmir. He’s pursuing a twin track policy. First, he’s attempting to win Kashmiri Muslims’ hearts and minds.
Education is the main means of trying to achieve this. The Indian army is keen to show me a school almost next to the Line of Control separating Kashmir. It’s run and paid for by the army itself. Colonel Mukhtiar Singh admits benevolence isn’t the only reason. “If a person is educated, he is much less likely to become a terrorist,” he explains.
The second part of India’s Kashmir policy is cracking down on the militants. It’s killed hundreds this month alone, including the leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed group. General Sinha believes world events, particularly September 11th, make this easy to justify. “The world has woken up to terrorism,” he says. “But we have been experiencing this here for a very long time.”
India insists Pakistan aids the militants. There’s also daily skirmishing along the Line of Control. The commander of the 12th Brigade, which guards the Line of Control area around Uri, Brigadier Syed Ata Hasnain, claims the shelling and the militant action are linked. Pakistan uses shelling as a way of distracting the Indian troops so militants can cross the Line of Control to get into Indian-controlled Kashmir, he says.
Speaking from across the border, the president of what the Pakistanis call Azad, or free, Kashmir, Sardar Mohammad Unwar, denies this or any link to the militant groups. But he says they’re not terrorists, they’re freedom fighters
For President Unwar, the only solution is for Pakistan to take all Kashmir. He says the alternative of Indian rule has comprehensively failed.
What many Kashmiris want is to rule themselves. Molvi Abbas Ansari is the leader of the main separatist organisation - the Hurriyat. He warns it is not only Kashmir but all South Asia that the two nuclear neighbours are risking by sticking to their guns.
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