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.
Tensions persisted over Indian govt’s revoking of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) special constitutional status in Aug and clashes across Line of Control (LoC, dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir) continued. In string of cross-LoC clashes, Pakistani military claimed Indian fire killed three civilians in mid-Dec, injured two soldiers 1 Dec; Indian armed forces 18 Dec reported clashes left one Indian soldier dead; Indian army chief same day warned skirmishes could escalate at any time. At least four killed during exchange of fire between Pakistan and India 25 Dec including at least one Indian soldier and two Pakistani soldiers. In Indian-administered Kashmir, suspected Kashmiri militants 26 Nov killed at least two in two grenade attacks, one in Hakura village, south of Srinagar, and the other at the University of Kashmir in Srinagar; security forces killed two suspected militants in Pulwama district 25-26 Nov. New Union Territory administration 25 Nov released two political leaders, one each from People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Democratic Party Nationalist; Police 30 Dec released five political activists, two from Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (NC), and one each from Congress and PDP. New Delhi 27 Dec partially lifted internet shutdown imposed on newly formed Ladakh union territory in Aug, restored internet in north-western Kargil district; internet blackout remained in place in J&K. China 17 Dec postponed bid to hold closed-door UN Security Council briefing same day on situation in Indian-administered Kashmir after UN peacekeeping mission said it was not ready to deliver brief, allegedly because France, U.S., UK and Russia opposed discussing bilateral issue in UN forum. Pakistan media reported 29 Dec Saudi Arabia has decided to convene Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s special meeting on Kashmir in April.
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.
More than five decades after independence, Pakistan is no closer to a resolution with India of the dispute over Kashmir.