One year ago, India rescinded constitutional provisions giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed territory also claimed by Pakistan.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.
Militant attacks and counter-insurgency operations inside Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continued at high intensity, while clashes persisted across Line of Control (LoC, dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir). In J&K, militants 1 July killed one paramilitary soldier in Baramullah district, and incident also left one man dead; controversy emerged over cause of additional casualty as Indian officials claimed militant gunfire killed man, while his family said security forces shot him. Militant and paramilitary member killed in clash in regional capital Srinagar 2 July; next day two militants killed in Kulgam district. In Pulwama district, bomb blast injured soldier 5 July and clash 7 July killed soldier and two militants. Next day, amid widespread strikes in Kashmir Valley to honour Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, whom security forces killed in 2016, militants killed local leader of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Bandipora district and two members of his family. Security forces killed three militants in Baramullah district 12 July, two in Anantnag district next day and three militants, including commander, in Kulgam district 17 July. Police reported killing two militants in gunfight in Ranbirgarh area of Srinagar 25 July. Tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad continued after reciprocal allegations of espionage saw half of diplomats in both capitals return home 30 June; India’s external ministry 2 July criticised announcement by Pakistan’s election commission on same day to hold local elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly part of J&K; Pakistan’s foreign ministry next day responded India “remains in illegal occupation of parts of” J&K. Pakistani PM Imran Khan 14 July inaugurated building of dam in Gilgit-Baltistan, undertaken with Chinese assistance; New Delhi 16 July protested construction on “Indian union territories” J&K and Ladakh. Meanwhile, cross-LoC clashes between India and Pakistan continued; Islamabad claimed firing by Indian forces killed child 1 July; injured five civilians 5 July; injured six civilians 12 July and injured two civilians 17 July; New Delhi accused Pakistani forces of killing soldier 10 July and killing three civilians 17 July.
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.