One year ago, India rescinded constitutional provisions giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed territory also claimed by Pakistan.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.
Counter-insurgency operations and militant attacks inside Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continued at high intensity, while clashes persisted across Line of Control (LoC, dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir). Notably, in J&K’s Baramulla district, clash with police 4 Sept killed three alleged Hizbul Mujahideen militants, police 11 Sept arrested three militants, and family members 16 Sept protested death in custody of youth in Sopore area. Hundreds 17 Sept protested and clashed with security forces in J&K capital Srinagar after police earlier that day shot dead civilian during operation that also killed three suspected militants. Army same day claimed to have averted a major militant attack in seizing 52kg of explosives in Pulwama district. Security forces 20-28 Sept killed militants in Srinagar, Budgam, Pulwama, Anatnag and Kupwara districts, while militant attacks in same period injured soldier in Budgam and killed civilian in Shopian district; unidentified gunmen 24 Sept killed prominent lawyer in Srinagar. Army 18 Sept reported three suspected militants killed in 18 July gunfight in Shopian were missing labourers from Rajouri, appearing to confirm case of extrajudicial killings. UN human rights chief 14 Sept criticised militant and security forces’ violence against civilians. Tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad continued with reciprocal allegations of cross-LoC fire: India accused Pakistan of cross-LoC fire that killed two soldiers 2-5 Sept and injured soldier 28 Sept. Pakistan claimed Indian fire was responsible for killing soldier 9 Sept, killing child and wounding seven civilians 13-17 Sept, killing three soldiers 23-26 Sept, and injuring two civilians 24 Sept. Islamabad and New Delhi traded rhetorical barbs in several international forums, including at UN Security Council meeting 3-4 Sept over Pakistan’s wish to add two Indian nationals to sanctions list, and India’s desire to remove Kashmir from council agenda. In UN General Assembly address 25 Sept, Pakistan’s PM Khan warned India was planning another “ill-conceived adventure” to divert attention from its illegal actions and rights abuses in J&K; India’s UN mission accused Pakistan of supporting terrorism and called on it to vacate all areas of Kashmir under its control. China and Pakistan 21 Sept condemned “unilateral actions that complicate the situation” in J&K.
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.