Militants and Indian security forces clashed throughout month, including 10 Feb militant attack on army base in Indian-administered Kashmir killing at least five soldiers and one civilian. India 12 Feb claimed it had evidence attack was carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad and threatened retaliation against Pakistan; Pakistan 13 Feb said “any Indian aggression” would be met with “equal and proportionate response”. Gunmen 13 Feb attacked police base in Srinagar (south); gunmen and one soldier killed in ensuing standoff. Suspected militants 25 Feb killed two policemen in separate incidents in Indian-administered Kashmir. India and Pakistan traded fire across Line of Control (LoC) on several occasions, including 19 Feb clash which Pakistan said killed one Pakistani civilian and two Indian soldiers. Pakistani PM Abbasi 21 Jan confirmed his govt plans to take control of anti-India group Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s (JuD, formerly Lashkar-e-Tayyaba) charity operations; Pakistani President Hussain 9 Feb approved expansion of banned terrorist groups list to include groups sanctioned by UN Security Council, including JuD and its Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation; Pakistani govt mid-Feb said it had seized hundreds of JuD properties and madrasas (see Pakistan).
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.