High Stakes

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NISID HAJARIFew people know what a war waged on the roof of the world looks like. Down in the plains, in capitals and far-flung villages, we can only judge the battle by the racket it makes--the thud of artillery, the whine of jet engines, the stiff-lipped declarations of generals in both camps.

For the past two months the world has listened to such rumblings from high in the hills of Kashmir along the Line of Control that divides India and Pakistan. This week TIME reports from the front line of the battle to control a skein of towering rocks. New Delhi bureau chief Michael Fathers and photographer Marcus Oleniuk, on the Indian side of the LOC, bear witness to the army buildup that has brought thousands of troops to the region--many of whom will clamber up rock faces into withering machine-gun fire from Muslim intruders. From a bunker in Pakistan-controlled territory, reporter Ghulam Hasnain and photographer Robert Nickelsberg watch shells fly overhead in both directions. A Pakistani regular, one of the few to survive the fighting atop ice-capped ridges, undercuts Islamabad's claims to be providing nothing but moral support to the intruders.

That revelation should only increase the fierce pressure on Pakistan to back down. Last week both Washington and Beijing pushed Islamabad to withdraw its forces. Indian sources claim that, through an envoy, Pakistani Prime Minister Mohammed Nawaz Sharif has already raised the idea of pulling back. But while the world waits for the high-flying diplomacy to produce results, the battle--raging even higher--continues to take its unseen toll.