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Why Geography

India's population reached a billion people in the Summer of 1999. India's economy is relatively weak for such a populous nation. But except for a shared border with China high in the Himalayan mountains, India is the local superpower. Pakistan and India were one nation when Britain ruled the area, but the British left in 1947, and India and Pakistan (current Pakistan as West Pakistan and Bangladesh as East Pakistan) became separate nations. Kashmir was a largely Moslem population ruled by a hereditary prince, Hari Singh. He tried to declare Kashmir independent, but Moslem Pushtun tribes objected and called on Pakistan help. Singh asked India for help in keeping the Pakistanis out. India agreed, but only if Kashmir declared allegiance to India. The prince agreed, India and Pakistan went to war over the matter. In 1949 the UN arranged a cease fire that divided Kashmir into Pakistani and Indian sectors. In 1965, India fought another war over who would control Kashmir. No one won. In 1971 another war over Kashmir. Nothing much changed in Kashmir, but East Pakistan seceded to become Bangladesh. A 1972 treaty settled, for the moment, many of the disputes in Kashmir. But in 1989, fueled by the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan (and the end of the Russian occupation of Afghanistan), Moslem rebels began a violent attack on Indian forces occupying Kashmir. Thus soured relations between India and Pakistan (which denied providing support for the rebels). The two nations began negotiating over Kashmir again in 1997, but in 1998, the new Hindu nationalist government ordered a series of nuclear weapons tests (India had tested one such bomb in 1974.) Pakistan responded by revealing that it, too, had nukes. It had not tested them, but they did now. Both nations proved to the world, and their own wildly enthusiastic citizens, that two more nuclear powers had entered the nuclear "club." This led to more negotiating between the two nuclear powers, until the Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan forced another battle over Kashmir. When this battle was over, it came out that a major reason for Pakistan convincing the fundamentalists to withdraw was the build up of Indian forces all along the border with Pakistan. India has considerably more military power than Pakistan and would probably prevail in a conventional war. If that came to pass, it is likely Pakistan might be tempted to save it's situation with nuclear weapons. Neither India nor Pakistan wants to risk a nuclear exchange, yet.