AS LONG as the military action is on Indian territory, Pakistan will require to be blatantly aggressive in order to escalate the conflict. This would set them back in the battle for international opinion. Indeed, the course of events in Kargil so far provide as clear evidence as possible of Pakistan's nefarious designs. The attacks on the planes have been, in fact, an indication of the extent to which Pakistan will go in support of the heavily armed infiltrators. This should remove doubts, if any existed in international opinion, of Pakistan's involvement in militancy in Kashmir. Even as India defends its territory, it must take the attack mode in the battle for international opinion.
The Frontier Post
THE FIGHTING in Kashmir seems highly disturbing. The Indian prime minister would like to exploit the military situation in the Valley for enhancing his party's chances of winning the coming polls. A large number of Indians still appreciate anti-Pakistan posture. As opposed to this, there is a microscopic minority on the sub-continent that believes that India and Pakistan are doomed nations unless they shun confrontation. The question now is, can the international community stop two sick nations from creating a nuclear catastrophe that will leave the entire world dangerously shaken?
PAKISTAN, OF course, is entirely to blame for this unfortunate state of affairs. Its irrational obsession with Kashmir apparently compelled it to step up the process of sending militants into the valley, thereby forcing India to take preventive action. India's compulsions were all the greater this time because the militants comprised not only the kind of Afghan and other mercenaries who have been doing Pakistan's bidding in this respect for several years, but also regular Pakistani army personnel in disguise.
THE FAILURE of the long and hard campaign of brutal repression which the Indian defence forces have been waging against the people of Kashmir and the inevitable, humiliating end of such imperialistic ventures, so repeatedly demonstrated by history, seem not to have made New Delhi's strategists and policy makers any wiser yet. The Indian attempt represents a major escalation and can have serious consequences. The two nuclear powers indulging in a shooting match, even with conventional weapons, bodes ill for the future. The sooner it ends, the better will it be for all concerned. Pakistan's initiative of asking Kofi Annan to send a special envoy and reinforce UNMOGIP deserves immediate consideration. At the time it is essential for Pakistan not to rest on its nuclear laurels and also to pay due attention to the building up of its conventional defence.
AIR POWER sends a signal. It suggests that India will not tolerate any Pakistani incursion and that any repeat of such an incident will invite similar retaliation in the future. If Pakistan begins to swallow this message, it may well introspect and perhaps even accept the legitimacy of the Line of Control, in letter and spirit. In that case, not only will the management of the LoC become easier, but it will also lead to improved levels of stability in the region.
The Times of India
INDIA'S RESPONSE to this escalation has to be both restrained and firm. The sooner the Pakistani intruders within Indian territory are cleared by the combined air and ground action, the better the chances of limiting further conflagration. While the loss of the aircraft highlights the need for exercising extra care, the military operation has to be pressed with full vigour. The communication at political and military levels in both countries has to be maintained to ensure that there are no avoidable misunderstandings on either side.
THE STAKES are rising in a region bristling with nuclear weapons and missiles. Yet the response of the international community, as well as the UN, does not seem to match the dangers at hand - both for the region and the world. This is the moment for the international community to go beyond perfunctory calls for peace and engage constructively in helping to restore peace and stability in the region that is, even at the best of times, poised precariously between war and peace.