One year ago, India rescinded constitutional provisions giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed territory also claimed by Pakistan.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.
India-Pakistan tensions continued as both sides accused each other of supporting terrorism amid military clashes along Line of Control (LoC, dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir). Cross-LOC incidents continued throughout month. India claimed Pakistani cross-LoC fire 1 and 11 Jan killed one soldier and injured a child; said Pakistani firing 19 Jan responsible for injuring four soldiers and three militants killed during incident; also alleged two Indian soldiers killed 21 and 24 Jan. Pakistan claimed Indian cross-LoC fire 14 Jan killed one soldier; 10 and 22 Jan injured three civilians. Earlier in month, Pakistani FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi 9 Jan rejected accusation made by Indian external affairs ministry that it held “farcical trials” of UN-designated individuals to avoid blacklisting by inter-govt agency Financial Action Task Force. U.S. State Department same day called on Pakistan to hold Laskhar-e-Jhangvi leader Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi “accountable for his involvement in terrorist attacks, including the Mumbai attacks”; Lakhvi previous day sentenced to three concurrent five-year sentences for terrorism financing in Pakistan. Pakistan’s MFA 10 Jan expressed concern over India becoming chair of three key panels of UN Security Council including the Taliban sanctions and counter-terrorism committees, claimed that India is “state sponsor and perpetrator of terrorism” and “massive violator of human rights”. In Jammu and Kashmir, militant attacks continued: grenade attack 2 Jan injured at least six civilians in Pulwama district; militant attack on security forces 6 Jan injured two civilians when grenade missed intended target in regional capital Srinagar. Militant grenade attack 27 Jan killed one soldier and injured three in Kulgam district. Qureshi 22 Jan said “the onus lies on India” to reverse steps and improve situation in Kashmir. Earlier in month, after family members claimed that security forces 30 Dec killed three civilians who had no links to militancy and demanded investigation into incident, Kashmir’s police 1 Jan said three individuals had provided logistical support to militants. Police 10 Jan charged army captain with killing and branding three labourers as terrorists in Shopian district last July to claim reward money.
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.