Indo-Pak Issues




Intro: Concern is being expressed in world capitals over growing danger of war between India and Pakistan in connection with the issue of East Pakistan. VOA South Asian Correspondent Don Weaver has this background report on the explosive situation.

Text: One of the main issues in the confrontation between India and Pakistan is Indian support of rebels fighting for East Pakistan's secession.

India does not deny its sympathy for the rebel cause. New Delhi claims the Pakistani military actions beginning last March aborted a democratic process that would have permitted the Awami League of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to come to power through the will of the people.

Pakistan says the Awami League was plotting to convert an election victory based on a platform of autonomy into a bid for secession.

Official Pakistan circles are inclined to describe the events triggered last March and India's policy as continued Indian obsession with undermining Pakistan's unity. The goal, they say, is to destroy Pakistan. These quarters also regard India's support to the rebels as Hindu exploitation of the Muslim majority in South Asia, which led to the creation of Pakistan.

India counters by charging the Pakistani Army with a wave of terror and atrocities against East Pakistanis that drove millions of Bengalis, mostly Hindus, out of the country into India.

Official sources in Islamabad say Indian backing for secessionist guerrillas has come in the form of guns, ammunition and other sustenance for the Mukti Bahini movement. The sources said in Islamabad Wednesday that India not only grants sanctuary to the rebels but has trained between fifty and seventy thousand of them. This, the official Pakistani sources said, includes the training of at least seven hundred rebel leaders in Indian military academies.

In recent days, according to Pakistan, Indian support has been stepped up in sizeable battle participation by Indian regulars in East Pakistan. Diplomatic sources in Islamabad confirm some Indian participation but they say there is no indication yet of Indian soldiers attempting to retain East Pakistani territory.

As proof of Indian troop linkups in East Pakistani guerrilla operations, Pakistan this week presented six men to foreign correspondents in Dacca. Pakistan says they were members of the Fourth Mountain Division, captured inside the border district of Kushtia. India said Pakistan forces launched a border attack in the region and that six men are missing.

Pakistani spokesmen insist that the rebel movement would lose strength if India would cease it support and make some effort to block penetration of guerrillas.

President Yahya Khan frequently has expressed willingness to post United Nations observers on the border to ease the situation and pave the way for evacuee return. He also has agreed to discussions with Prime Minister Gandhi, or at any level.

Prime Minister Gandhi, on India's behalf, has been adamant in rejecting President Yahya's proposals. She says UN officials already are able to move freely in border areas where East Pakistani refugee matters must be looked into.
Missus Gandhi rules out any dialogue with Pakistani leaders on East Pakistan. That, she stresses, is a matter between the military leadership of Pakistan and the elected representatives of East Pakistan and not between India and Pakistan.

It is apparent to observers, with no Indo-Pakistani discussions and the level of violence moving upward, the risk of accidental war becomes greater daily.