One year ago, India rescinded constitutional provisions giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed territory also claimed by Pakistan.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.
Ceasefire held along Line of Control (LoC, dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir) as rhetoric cooled between India and Pakistan; deadly violence continued in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad eased following Feb agreement to observe ceasefire along Kashmir’s LoC. Pakistan’s Army Chief Bajwa 18 March said Pakistan supported “peace process or meaningful dialogue” but cautioned that “our neighbour would have to create a conducive environment, particularly in Indian-occupied Kashmir”; Pakistan’s PM Khan previous day said “India would have to take the first step [to normalise ties]”. India’s PM Modi in message to Khan on Pakistan day 23 March said India desired “cordial relations with the people of Pakistan. For this an environment of trust, devoid of terror and hostility, is imperative”. Meanwhile, India and Pakistan’s Indus Waters Commissioners 23-24 met in India’s capital New Delhi; first such meeting since India’s Aug 2019 actions in J&K. India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy 17 March told parliament of “instances of supply of weapons via drones from across the Pakistan border”; J&K’s police chief 20 March repeated allegation. Within J&K, clashes with security forces and militant attacks continued: Indian security forces 9 March killed alleged militant commander in Baramulla district; J&K police next day arrested four alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants in Pampore district; security forces same day killed two militants in Anantnag district. Grenade attack on police post in Baramulla district 13 March injured two police officers. Security forces 14 March killed one militant in Shopian district; locals demonstrating against security operation 16 March clashed with police, leaving several injured. Attack on outskirts of regional capital Srinagar 25 March killed two paramilitary soldiers and injured two. Two militants and one soldier killed on 28 March in Shopian district. Grenade attack on police 28 March killed two civilians in Anantnag district; militant attack next day killed local official and his security guard in Baramulla. Militants 29 March killed policeman and councillor in Baramulla district.
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.