One year ago, India rescinded constitutional provisions giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed territory also claimed by Pakistan.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.
Tensions between India and Pakistan and within Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continued to run high, including over controversial burial of Kashmiri leader. In virtual UN General Assembly, Pakistan PM Khan 24 Sept condemned rights violations in J&K, including forcible burial of prominent Kashmiri leader. In J&K, death of 92-year-old Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani – who had been in prison and under house arrest since 2010 – on 1 Sept sparked tensions after family alleged that Indian police hurriedly buried Geelani in early hours next day, denying him burial in line with his wishes. Fearing protests and clashes, Indian govt 1-3 Sept imposed communications blackout and curfew in Kashmir valley. In Jammu, traders 22 Sept went on strike to protest govt’s “anti-trade” policies. J&K National Conference party leader Omar Abdullah 1 Sept asked Indian govt to clarify whether it still considered Taliban to be terrorist organisation after it contacted Taliban officials in Qatar’s capital Doha day before. Taliban leader Anas Haqqani same day said Kashmir was not part of their jurisdiction; Taliban 3 Sept however said it is group’s right “to raise our voice for Muslims in Kashmir”. J&K Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti 19 Sept accused ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using threats posed by Afghan Taliban and Pakistan to gain votes. Indian Army official 20 Sept said Afghan militants were unlikely to extend operations to Kashmir, said he focused on presence of around 60-70 Pakistani militants seeking to motivate local youth to take up arms in Kashmir. Militant attacks and security operations continued in J&K. Notably, militants 12 Sept killed police officer in regional capital Srinagar; 17 Sept killed police officer and migrant labourer in separate incidents in Kulgam district. Security forces 12 Sept killed militant in Rajouri district. Delhi Police Special Cell 14 Sept arrested six men for allegedly planning terror attacks across country, said preparation for attacks conducted in Pakistan and at least two of those arrested received training by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.
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.