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 remained high between India and Pakistan over former’s revoking of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) special constitutional status, and continued clashes across Line of Control (LoC, dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir). New Delhi 31 Oct formally divided state into two federally-administered “union territories”, J&K and Ladakh. In continued clashes across LoC, Pakistani military sources claimed Indian fire killed soldier 10 Oct and three civilians 15 Oct. Spike in cross-LoC attacks 20 Oct with India claiming to have targeted three militant camps allegedly used for infiltration into India-administered Kashmir, reporting two soldiers killed by Pakistani fire, and claiming to have killed five Pakistani soldiers in retaliation; Pakistan claimed to have killed nine Indian soldiers. Pakistani PM Khan 8 Oct met with Chinese President Xi in Beijing in bid to gain support over Kashmir; joint statement declared China’s opposition to “any unilateral action that complicates the situation”, which should be resolved based on UN Charter, “relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements”. India criticised China for commenting on “internal affairs”; Xi and Indian PM Modi did not mention Kashmir during meeting in India 12 Oct. Within J&K, clashes continued including police claiming to have killed three militants in south 16 Oct. New Delhi began easing some restrictions including 10 Oct releasing three mid-level politicians and 14 Oct restoring some mobile phone connections, though other connections and internet services remained blocked. Govt re-blocked text messaging services hours later after militants killed truck driver in Shopian district; militants 29 Oct killed five migrant labourers in Kulgam district. National Conference party delegation 6 Oct met detained leaders Farooq Abdullah and son Omar; party’s provincial head said “mainstream leaders have to be released” to start political process with New Delhi. Delegation of 23 largely far-right European parliamentarians visited Kashmir in “private capacity” late Oct. In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, hundreds of supporters of pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front marched toward LoC intending to cross it, but were barred by govt; Khan stated anyone crossing LoC “will play into the Indian narrative” of terrorism.
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.