We have already seen where this leads in Israel/Palestine and now something similar may be happening in the Indian sub-continent. When terrorists attacked the Indian Parliament earlier this month the Indian government blamed Pakistan-based Islamic militant groups and demanded that Pakistan act against them. President Musharraf took some administrative action against two groups which had been named but India immediately said that stronger measures were needed. This all has a somewhat familiar ring to it with the obvious exception that militarily speaking India and Pakistan are evenly matched whereas in the Middle East one side possesses overwhelming force. President Musharraf is in an extremely difficult position. Having risked provoking some of his extremists in order to help the US in its campaign against the Taliban, he is again being urged by Washington to act against other extremists in order to placate India and remove the risk of a war over Kashmir.
This second task may prove to be harder than the first. Many of the militant groups operating close to the Kashmir borders are proxies for the Pakistan military; if attempts are made to disband them or curtail their activities they will probably resist and go underground. Although India is, in this single case, the victim, it should show statesmanship by recognising Musharraf's difficulties and lessening the shrill tone of its demands. Unfortunately it has already pandered to rabble-rousers and even appears to relish the prospect of open conflict. The stakes are high and will be higher if nuclear weapons are deployed.
Tories in trouble
As if Britain's Conservative Party did not have problems enough getting its policies right, it is now in serious financial trouble with a monthly shortfall of some £300'000 for operational expenditure estimated at ú1 million. The problem is as serious as it is sudden. Although William Hague spent £12 million on the last election - one million more than Labour - the books were balanced and all debts cleared by the end of June, leaving a fairly healthy war chest of some £3 million for the coming months. By prior agreement Lord Ashcroft then departed as Treasurer, handing over the job to Sir Stanley Kalms, the chairman of Dixons. The deficit arises for two reasons. Firstly, Lord Ashcroft has scaled down his extremely generous donations to the party, as have other big donors, and no new names have come forward to replace them. Secondly, funds from the constituencies and individual members have declined disastrously following the general election defeat and the divisive leadership election, and as a result of disillusionment about Ian Duncan Smith's leadership and the poor prospects for the next election. It does seem rather unfair that having had the opportunity for the first time to elect their leader the constituencies are not backing him with the money he needs to do the job. According to press reports, the party's accountants, PricewaterhouseCoopers have refused to sign off the accounts for the year ending March 2001 because of the uncertainty over the party's financial future. Major economies seem inevitable.