With expiration of six-month governor’s rule in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) 19 Dec, Indian president same day Dec signed proclamation paving way for imposition of president’s rule, as recommended by J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik 17 Dec in wake of Nov dissolution of state assembly. Presidential rule can be imposed for two six-monthly terms if state elections are not held; governor’s rule had been imposed in June after collapse of People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-led coalition govt. Violence continued, including 9 Dec deaths of two teenage alleged militants – one of them fourteen, believed to be youngest militant killed in three decades of conflict – sparking major anti-India protests in northern town Hajin. Security forces 10 Dec killed three suspected militants on outskirts of J&K capital Srinagar. Security forces 15 Dec shot dead seven civilians protesting military operation same day in Pulwama district (south) in which three militants and one soldier killed; in response, demonstrations and shut-down strikes held 15-17 Dec in Srinagar and elsewhere in valley on call of Joint Resistance Leadership composed of separatist Kashmiri factions. In clashes in Pulwama district, military reported at least four militants killed in encounter 29 Dec, prompting local protesters to attack security forces. Indian defence spokesman said firing by Pakistani troops along Line of Control (LoC) 26 Dec killed one civilian in J&K’s Rajouri district; Pakistani officials reported firing by Indian troops 31 Dec killed one woman and injured nine civilians (Indian military denied).
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.