India reported almost a dozen foreign and local militants killed by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir since 1 Jan. Three Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen militants killed in 16 Jan gunfight in Awoori, Anantnag district; confrontation sparked clashes between protesters and police while nearby villagers reportedly attempted to disrupt operation; incident reportedly prompted protests across southern Kashmir. Security forces 19 Jan killed operational commander of Lashkar-e Toiba (LeT) in Bandipore, N Jammu and Kashmir. Indian officials 24 Jan reported two LeT militants killed during security operations in Hadoora, N of Srinagar, and one unidentified militant killed near Line of Control (LoC). Clashes reported 20 Jan between police and protesters in Sopore in north during one-day general strike organised by separatists. Unidentified attackers 9 Jan killed three road construction workers in Jourian, Jammu district; motives unknown. Following World Banks’s 12 Dec halting of two arbitration processes between India and Pakistan under Indus Water Treaty (IWT), Indian officials 5 Jan proposed dispute should be resolved bilaterally or through neutral technical expert, rather than full court of arbitration as sought by Islamabad. Pakistan minister for water and power 17 Jan told senate panel India engaging in “posturing”, no immediate threat of it repudiating IWT. India’s new army chief in 3 Jan interview said strikes carried out Sept 2016 across LoC were “messaging” to terrorists, will repeat if militants continue operations on Indian territory; Pakistani counterpart 5 Jan claimed Pakistan armed forces ready to respond to any Indian aggression. Pakistan 6 Jan presented dossier to UNSG Guterres accusing India of involvement in terrorist activities in Karachi, Balochistan, and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Pakistan 9 Jan tested first submarine-launched cruise missile.
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.