Volume 93, Issue 14

Wednesday, September 22, 1999


Jocks can't opt out

Report on abuse unveiled

Funding to target women's health

Sex study shows Canadian youth get more nookie

U of T backs out of business deal

India-Pakistan conflict raises concern

For student needs, bet on the net

Tan and Reform MP discuss CASA campaign


bass ackwards

Caught on campus

India-Pakistan conflict raises concern

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

Rising tensions and recent conflicts between India and Pakistan over a disputed region along the border between the two countries has raised local concerns over the situation and its consequences.

Salim Mansur, a political sciences professor at Western, said the conflict over the Kashmir region has been a highly contested issue since the two countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.

According to Mansur, the two sides have directly taken up arms twice since 1948 and again more recently during the summer, when Muslim guerrillas crossed a tentative dividing line in the disputed area.

Mansur added as they are neighbouring countries, the threat of war has not been erased. "It illustrates the great danger in that part of the world," he said.

Mansur explained since the two sides have recently become nuclear powers, the stakes have risen to include a potential nuclear mishap. "It's a dangerous hangover and there is a potential for a major disaster, but there is also an expectation or hope that India and Pakistan will not be so adamant, so stupid.

"The ultimate hopeful solution would be for both sides to back off and allow a United Nations plebiscite to take place," he said, adding the matter has already enveloped local Kashmiris and villagers in the neighbouring regions. "They might choose to be free of both, but I don't think a plebiscite will happen."

Kul Bhatia, a Western economics professor, said although the two sides are nuclear powers, he felt they would not come to blows on a nuclear level. "It could happen, but I have a feeling both countries can see the disastrous effects of a nuclear explosion. They will walk away," he said.

Bhatia added the economic effects from both countries beefing up their armies has left Pakistan in a worse position than India. "Pakistan is tiny relative to India. If both sides were spending the same amount of money, it is Pakistan who would suffer more," he said.

"Relative to developed countries like Canada, the comparative burden [of defence spending] is much greater on Pakistan," he said.

Omar Yar Khan, former president of the Pakistani Students' Association and fourth-year political science student at Western, said he did not see an end to the conflict as both sides strongly refuse to back away.

"It's pretty sad two of the poorest countries in the world spend so much on defence when they could be spending that money on building their economies and helping their own people," he added.

Bhatia said both sides are intent on gaining control of the region. "They don't have much of a choice. So much blood has already been shed," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999