As the decades-old conflict continues in Kashmir, with incidents occurring every week, dangerous tensions make future violence possible. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to push for India and Pakistan to rebuild mutual respect and peaceful relations by resuming formal bilateral ties and re-engaging with Kashmiri political leaders.
Indian PM Modi and Pakistan’s new PM Sharif exchanged conciliatory messages, while militant attacks and security operations persisted in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Indian PM Narendra Modi 12 April congratulated newly elected Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif, calling for “constructive engagement”; Sharif 17 April responded by urging resolution of Kashmir dispute in “interest of mutual peace and prosperity”. Previously, at “Fourth Annual U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue”, sides 11 April “strongly condemned any use of terrorist proxies and cross-border terrorism” and called on Pakistan to take “irreversible action” to ensure its territory is not used to launch terror attacks; Islamabad 13 April rejected “unwarranted” reference to “some non-existent and dismantled entities”. India’s Minister of Home Affairs Nityanand Rai 6 April told parliament militants have killed 14 Hindus, including four Kashmiri Pandits, since govt repealed Article 370 in Aug 2019. India’s National Investigative Agency 8 April filed charges against 25 people accused of targeted killings in Kashmir and blamed Pakistan-based terrorist organisations for “deep-rooted conspiracy to spread terrorism” and radicalise youth in J&K. India’s Ministry of Home Affairs 8 April designated son of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed as terrorist under Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act; 14 April also designated Al-Umar-Mujahideen founder Mushtaq Ahmad Zarg as terrorist. Counter-insurgency operations and militant attacks continued in J&K. Security operation 9 April killed two alleged LeT militants in Anantnag and Kulgam districts; 10 April killed two alleged Pakistani militants in Srinagar district; 11 April killed two militants in Kulgam district; 14 April killed four alleged LeT militants in Shopian district; 16 April killed security personnel in Anantnag district; 21 April killed alleged LeT commander in Baramulla district. Militants 4 April killed security force in Srinagar; 15 April killed village level elected representative in Baramulla district; 18 April killed security force personnel in Pulwama district. Security forces 1 and 3 April arrested three alleged militant associates of Jaish-e-Muhammad in Pulwama district and five alleged LeT associates in Bandipora district.
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.
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.
Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries or regions at risk of deadly conflict or escalation thereof in 2022. In these places, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could enhance prospects for peace and stability.
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.