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This week's In the News examines the crisis in Kashmir. For the last seven days, India has waged a combined air and ground attack against an alliance of separatist guerrillas in the Indian-controlled region of Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory in the northwestern Indian subcontinent. Government officials from India, a primarily Hindu nation, insistently accuse the intelligence agency of Pakistan, a Muslim nation, of supporting the Islamic guerrillas in their struggle for Kashmiri autonomy. However, Pakistani officials fervently deny the charge. Yesterday Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee consented to meet with Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Azi sometime this week to discuss the recent conflict in order to staunch escalating violence in the province. The Kashmir crisis has created a cause for concern worldwide because it is the first eruption of hostility between the two nations since they both began aggressive nuclear weapons testing programs last year (see the May 19, 1998 Scout Report for Social Sciences). Kashmir is riven by a 450-mile demarcation line, or Line of Control (LoC), dividing dominion of the territory between India and Pakistan. Since the partition of British India under the Indian Independence Act of 1947, Pakistan and India have fought three wars, twice over the embattled territory of Kashmir (1947-48 and 1965). The LoC was established in 1949 as a cease-fire line after the first Kashmir war and redrawn by the two countries in 1972 after their most recent war. Muslim separatist groups have been violently rebelling in the Indian-administered region of Kashmir intermittently for nearly ten years.

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