Paradise Lost: The Ordeal of Kashmir

The tortured history of the Princely State, one which may be today's ground zero in Asia.

Issue: Winter 1999-2000

In Kashmir, this year's "annual spring exercises"--as the more worldly local commentators like to joke--escalated into the most severe and sustained bout of fighting since 1971, when India and Pakistan clashed for the third time since Partition. In the Kargil Mountains, at an altitude of 17,000 feet, where the air is so thin the trajectory of artillery shells cannot be predicted and helicopter rotors have difficulty generating lift, Pakistani-backed "freedom fighters", mostly imported from Afghanistan, battled with Indian troops. After eight weeks of fighting, many hundreds of deaths, and international alarm over a possible nuclear exchange, the ceasefire line remains basically where it had been before the fighting began, and Kashmir stays partitioned.

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