Outside Forces Look to Cool Kashmir Conflict

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If cricket is a continuation of war by other means, the tide in Kashmir is turning in Indiaís favor. Having soundly thrashed Pakistan in their World Cup cricket encounter in England Tuesday, India sent jets to bomb Pakistan-backed infiltrators in Kashmir Wednesday, and began preparing to host Pakistanís foreign minister for peace talks on Saturday. And itís not just their triumph in the all-important cricket encounter thatís got India approaching those talks with a measure of confidence. "Pakistan is in a bit of a bind now that the U.S. is putting on pressure for talks," says TIME New Delhi correspondent Maseeh Rahman. "It had hoped to provoke India into escalating the conflict in order to bring it up at the United Nations again, but India has refused to be drawn in to a wider conflict. Pakistan has found no international support for their action, and the West has made clear that it holds Pakistan responsible for the guerrilla incursion." Thatís bad news for Pakistan, whose basket-case economy is almost entirely dependent on the largesse of the IMF.

India has set aside only one day for talks, and says evicting the intruders is the only item on the agenda. But they may agree on a formula that allows Pakistan to save face by withdrawing the insurgents in exchange for the creation of an India-Pakistan commission to review border arrangements in the Kargil zone, where the current fighting is raging, and in which the terrain has precluded the mapped border from being physically demarcated. Otherwise, India appears content to keep on pounding the insurgentsí positions and let the pressure of an imminent IMF payment focus Pakistanís mind.