One year ago, India rescinded constitutional provisions giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed territory also claimed by Pakistan.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.
Pakistan-India tensions ran high amid regional security concerns over Afghanistan and anniversary of India’s revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). India, as UN Security Council (UNSC) president, 6, 17 Aug held meetings on security developments in Afghanistan, during which India’s External Affairs Minister Jaishankar 17 Aug told UNSC Pakistani-based militant groups operating with “impunity and encouragement”; Islamabad denied allegations, protested India’s decision to deny requests to attend UNSC meetings. Pakistani FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi 12 Aug blamed Indian intelligence for 14 July attack that killed ten Chinese workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. On two-year anniversary of end of J&K special constitutional status, Pakistan’s foreign ministry 5 Aug summoned India’s High Commissioner to Islamabad to register “unequivocal rejection of India’s illegal and unilateral actions since 5 August” in J&K; People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, J&K opposition coalition, same day held protests in J&K while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrated anniversary of revocation. Political and religious leaders from Kargil and Ladakh regions 1 Aug met and rejected union territory status, demanding statehood and safeguards against outsiders buying land or obtaining jobs; govt 10 Aug told parliament two people only had purchased property in J&K since Aug 2019. Counter-insurgency operations and militant attacks continued. Police 14 Aug claimed to have foiled terrorist attack planned for following day (India’s Independence Day), arrested four alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed militants. Security forces 3 and 7 Aug killed two alleged Lashkar-e-Tayyaba militants in Bandipora and Budgam districts. Clashes between militants and security forces 6 Aug left two alleged militants dead in Rajouri district, 12 Aug killed five in Kulgam district including two civilians, and 17 Aug left one security personnel and one militant dead in Rajouri. Militants 3 and 7 Aug killed two police officers in Srinagar city and Kulgam; 9 Aug killed BJP member and wife in Anantnag district; 19 Aug killed leader of pro-BJP Apni party leader in Kulgam. Series of grenade attacks in Rajouri, Handwara and Baramulla districts 13 Aug, 16 Aug killed two including two-year-old.
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.
Even if India and Pakistan appear willing to allow more interaction across the Line of Control (LOC) that separates the parts of Kashmir they administer, any Kashmir-based dialogue will fail if they do not put its inhabitants first.
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.