So, are weapons originally sent from Washington going to spark a full-scale war between the world's newest nuclear nations? "No, both sides are determined to avoid a war," says Rahman. "Instead we're looking at a long counterinsurgency as the Indian army comes under political pressure to retake the territory seized by the infiltrators." In other words, just business as usual in Kashmir. A surer indication that dispute will remain local: Even as their armed forces trade fire in the disputed province, both countries vowed Friday that the conflict wouldn't jeopardize their ongoing involvement in the cricket world cup.
Remember those state-of-the-art Stinger missiles Ronald Reagan sent to the Afghan rebels back in the '80s? India certainly does, because one of them is reported to have taken down an Indian Air Force helicopter Friday in a battle against insurgents in Kashmir. "The Stinger is perhaps the surest sign that the infiltrators have an Afghan mujahedeen connection," says TIME New Delhi correspondent Maseeh Rahman. But the guerrillas that occupied Indian military positions atop 17,000-feet-high mountain peaks are certainly no weekend warriors, leading to the accusations by India that Pakistan is behind the whole thing. "These guys moved into some of the worst terrain in the world in the dead of winter when the area is almost uninhabitable," says Rahman. "They reinforced their positions, built bunkers and used snowmobiles to resupply themselves. And in the fighting so far, they've emerged as experienced, battle-hardened soldiers." New Delhi suspects that the 600-strong infiltration force includes either Pakistani special forces or Afghan mujahedeen -- and also to charge that, Pakistan's denials notwithstanding, an operation on this scale would have been logistically impossible without the complicity of the Pakistani army.