One year ago, India rescinded constitutional provisions giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed territory also claimed by Pakistan. Kashmiri militancy is growing, often with Pakistani encouragement. Allies should urge New Delhi to relax its clampdown and Islamabad to stop backing jihadist proxies.
Maoist-related violence persisted, protests against agriculture reforms left one dead, and small-scale tensions erupted at India-China border over unofficial boundary. Anti-Maoist security operations and Maoist violence continued throughout month. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), security forces 13-19 Jan killed three Maoists in Dantewada and Bijapur districts; Maoists 14-30 Jan killed six civilians and two security personnel in Rajnandgaon, Bijapur, Kondagaon, Kanker and Narayanpur districts. In Jharkhand state (east), Maoists 16 and 17 Jan killed two civilians in Latehar and Chatra districts. In Odisha state (east), Maoists 30 Jan killed two civilians in Kandhamal district. In Maharashtra state (west), Maoists 5 Jan killed civilian in Gadchiroli district. Tens of thousands of farmers continued to demonstrate throughout month on outskirts of capital New Delhi, calling on govt to repeal controversial agriculture laws; govt and farmers held several rounds of unsuccessful talks. Farmers 26 Jan rallied in New Delhi on Republic Day to protest govt agricultural reforms; one protester died and hundreds of demonstrators and police officers were injured in clashes, which climaxed with protesters storming city’s historic Red Fort. Internationally, amid months-long border standoff with China, Indian army 8 Jan apprehended Chinese soldier who reportedly crossed Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh and 11 Jan handed him over to China. Indian and Chinese military officials 24 Jan held talks on disengagement of forces along LAC, agreeing to continue efforts to ensure “restraint of the front-line troops”. Indian army 25 Jan said Indian and Chinese troops had been involved in “minor face-off” at Naku La pass in north-eastern Sikkim state on 20 Jan, adding that it was “resolved by local commanders”. In Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka, Indian fishing boat – allegedly engaged in illegal fishing in Sri Lankan waters – 18 Jan reportedly collided with Sri Lankan navy ship, causing it to sink and four fishermen to drown; India 21 Jan lodged “strong protest” with Sri Lanka. FM Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Nepali FM Pradeep Gyawali 15 Jan reportedly discussed India-Nepal border dispute. India 1 Jan began its two-year tenure as non-permanent member of UN Security Council.
Their recent dialogue process provides the best chance yet for bilateral peace and regional stability, but Pakistan and India must still overcome serious mistrust among hardliners in their security elites.
India needs to push Sri Lanka harder towards steps that will avert a return to violent conflict on the island.
When the third round of the normalisation talks concludes in July 2006, India and Pakistan will be no closer than when they began the process in February 2004 to resolving differences, including over Kashmir.
The agreement between Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, and India's new prime minister, Manmohan Singh, to continue talks on all contentious issues including Kashmir has inspired optimism about reduced tensions in South Asia.
For half a century Kashmir has been the major issue of contention between India and Pakistan.
Reciprocal airstrikes by India and Pakistan have been accompanied by shelling, troop reinforcements and small arms fire. In this Q&A calling for restraint between the nuclear-armed neighbours, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director Laurel Miller notes that the airspace violations alone were the worst for 50 years.
A 14 February suicide attack by Pakistan-based militants was their bloodiest strike in Indian-administered Kashmir in over three decades. In this Q&A, our Asia Program Director Laurel Miller warns that even a limited Indian retaliatory strike could spark a sharp escalation in conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Originally published in Política Exterior
Originally published in The Hindu