The Kargil Conflict
In recent situations, U.S. dissuasion has been more effective. During the Kargil conflict, from May to July 1999, U.S. diplomacy was a critical factor in the Indian decision to limit the fighting to one isolated sector of the Line of Control in Kashmir. When Pakistani troops crossed the line in the early months of the year, India had the option of opening new fronts elsewhere in Kashmir or, potentially, along the international border with Pakistan proper. The decision not to expand the conflict horizontally or vertically was New Delhi's, but Washington's influence helped to reinforce Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's preference for a limited operation to restore the Line of Control rather than open-ended war with the inherent potential for nuclear escalation. This new U.S.-Indian interaction during Kargil was founded on a relationship that had been painstakingly constructed since the early 1990's, highlighted by the intensive dialogue between Indian Minster of External Affairs Jaswant Singh and American Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. It was still a fragile and uncertain relationship in May 1999, but it gained strength during the crisis as the U.S. Administration clearly and publicly increased the pressure on Pakistan to withdraw its troops, while carefully ensuring that India's leaders were apprised of U.S. actions and perceptions. At the diplomatic climax of the conflict, for example, when Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was meeting with President Clinton on the 4 th of July, the U.S. President telephoned Vajpayee several times to brief the Indian leader on the progress of the talks. In its campaign to urge restraint on New Delhi, Washington was also successful in orchestrating approaches by other capitals, recognizing India's legitimate security interests but stressing the international importance of holding the combat to a limited, manageable level. Based on objective analysis and a conscious effort to enhance bilateral ties, U.S. support during the Kargil crisis was instrumental in introducing an unprecedented degree of trust and openness into U.S.-India relations. The 2001-2002 Crisis
The improved relationship with India paid handsome dividends for U.S. policy three years later as Washington and the rest of the international community strove to help defuse the 2001-2002 India-Pakistan crisis. In the tense atmosphere following the September attack on the United States, a costly October suicide bombing at the Kashmir Legislative Assembly, and the war in Afghanistan, terrorists assaulted the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001 while it was in session, sparking national outrage and the largest military mobilization since the 1971 war. Though complicated by the importance of Pakistan to Coalition combat operations in Afghanistan and the presence of a small number of American troops in Pakistan, the U.S. Administration, in coordination with other governments, embarked on a diplomatic effort to dissuade India from engaging in military retaliation with unpredictable and potentially catastrophic consequences. Centered around personal diplomacy by Secretary of State Colin Powell and highlighted by presidential phone calls, the U.S. dissuasive campaign restored a degree of stability after a trip to the region by Powell in January 2002 and a conciliatory speech by Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf. Neither side, however, demobilized, and a brutal attack on an Indian Army family housing area in May brought the two countries to the brink once more. Personal diplomacy was again the centerpiece of the American approach: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage both traveled to New Delhi and Islamabad in early June when tension was at its height. This time the dissuasive impact of the U.S. message was reinforced by public disclosure of U.S. casualty estimates in the event of an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange and a State...
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