Pakistan formally claims that it has no control over what it says are Kashmiri mujahideen fighting on the Indian side of the disputed territory. But the calls by Washington, Beijing and other international powers for Islamabad's withdrawal reflect the overwhelming evidence of direct involvement of Pakistani forces in the incursion. "Without the logistical and artillery support of the Pakistani army, the intruders would be mopped up pretty quickly," says Rahman. "If the intruders fight on, that may be a sign that Pakistanís military isnít under the control of its civilian political leaders." And thatís a frightening prospect in an economically and politically fragile, nuclear-armed state.
Pakistanís prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, may have promised peace in Kashmir, but delivering is another matter. Fighting actually escalated Thursday as the Pakistan-backed guerrilla forces inside Indian territory delivered their verdict on the withdrawal promised to President Clinton last Sunday by launching fierce counterattacks against Indian troops. "Feelings are running very high in Pakistan over what many perceive as a sell-out over Kashmir," says TIME New Delhi correspondent Maseeh Rahman. "But the U.S. wonít accept Nawaz's going back on his word, and heíll lose authority as prime minister if he canít rein in the military, so this is going to be the biggest test of his political career."