December 2001 News

All quiet on the Kashmir front, or so a Commander says

28 December 2001
The Hindustan Times

Chakothi: There is at least one quiet military outpost on the border between Pakistan and India in the breathtaking region of Kashmir. Pakistani Brig Commander Muhammed Yakub Khan was yesterday standing on it. Across a stream, less than 100 metre away, Indian soldiers hunkered down in a bunker. The armed soldiers from both saides stared at each other. Then one of the Indian soldiers waved. A few hours later, matching sanction for sanction, Pakistan said it would bar Indian airliners from using its airspace and ordered home half of India''s diplomatic corps. India had done exactly the same shortly before in the latest escalation of tensions over Kashmir and a terrorist attack on its Parliament. But for two nuclear-equipped nations that have been eyeball-to-eyeball for the last 54 years, many things are not what they seem - especially on the Line of Control. Khan was hosting to about 50 international journalists at the Shaheen military base, which houses the ''rough and ready,'' according to an old, hand-painted sign. The outpost of 3,000 soldiers, flanked by towering peaks, is about 60 km southeast of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan- occupied-Kashmir. For all his apparent earnestness about tensions in this troubled land - where Indians and Pakistanis have fought three wars since partition in 1947 - Khan admitted there has been random neighbourliness in this part of Kashmir.


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