World to Indian PM: Them's Fightin' Words

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First India's citizens grew despondent over their country's lax airport security and with the fact that India released convicted anti-Indian terrorists after negotiations with the hijackers of Indian Airlines Flight IC 814. Then other U.N.-member nations joined in, angered by the precedent India set by caving. So Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Monday tried to lay the blame on arch-nemesis Pakistan, saying the Pakistani government trained the hijackers and is now harboring them. But like every move India's made since the hijacking, the accusations backfired, and now both the domestic press and foreign media are decrying Vajpayee's accusations as unfounded.

All of which leaves India with a new worry: That its handling of the hostage situation has undone international support for its claim to the disputed Kashmir region on the country's border with Pakistan. Just a few months ago India was gaining points internationally by painting Pakistan as a security risk. Pakistan didn't need much help: First it raised regional tensions by deploying soldiers to the Indian border, then Pervez Musharraf caused a global scare by overthrowing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. But Pakistan has since scored major points with the U.N. by removing the troops from the border and by Musharraf steadily proving himself a moderate with strong diplomacy skills. Now the West is shaking its finger at India for picking on Pakistan without proof. U.S. officials have already written off Vajpayee's accusations as yet another futile ploy to have Pakistan declared a terrorist state. One thing is increasingly clear: if India wants to curry favor with the international community for its rule over Kashmir, it's going to have to be more polite to its neighbors.