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Asia: A Cease-Fire of Sorts

2 minute read

The cease-fire between India and Pakistan last week passed into its sixth tense week with not the slightest prospect for a settlement. Indeed, if words were any measure, the situation was worse. Rising before the U.N. Security Council, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Zulfikar AH Bhutto charged India with conducting a reign of terror in Kashmir, quoting a Kashmiri as having told the press: “Indian troops have cut off the breasts of our girls and held them up saying, ‘Here is your Pakistan!'” With that, India’s white-turbaned Foreign Minister Swaran Singh led his delegation out of the Security Council.* Hooted Pakistan’s Bhutto: “The Indian dogs have gone home, not from Kashmir, but from the Security Council.” From India, Prime Minister Lai Bahadur Shastri shot back that Bhutto’s blunt remarks were “vulgar, dirty and uncivilized.”

There was more than verbal violence in Kashmir itself. Many—perhaps a majority—of the 3.5 million inhabitants of Indian-held Kashmir are strongly inclined toward union with Pakistan and are letting the Indian-controlled government know it. The government has struck back sternly, suspending civil rights, closing schools and universities, centers of the protests, and jailing pro-Pakistan politicians. Units of the 30,000-man India-controlled police force have waded into demonstrators and beaten scores to the ground with their lathis (long, steel-tipped staves). Fearing a full-scale revolt, government officials protect their homes with sandbags and helmeted troops; soldiers guard all important bridges and public buildings.

Last week’s furor kept Kashmir in the headlines, which is just where the Pakistanis want it. Their worst fear is that the crisis will fade before the U.N. does something about it. Meanwhile, dug-in Pakistani and Indian troops face each other along the 1,500-mile truce line from Rajasthan in the south to Kashmir in the north. India has charged Pakistan with 585 violations in 34 days. Pakistan has countered with accusations of 450 incidents by India. In his first visit to the front, India’s Shastri last week exhorted his soldiers “to be alert and vigilant because we do not know how long the cease-fire will last.”

* Only the third walkout in the Security Council’s history. The others: Russia’s angry departure during the Azerbaijan debate in 1946 and again in 1950 as a protest against Nationalist China serving as Council president.

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