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 continued over India’s revocation of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) special constitutional status, amid ongoing clashes between India and Pakistan at Line of Control (LoC, dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir), and India’s deployment of joint special forces to J&K to combat attacks by militants. At LoC, Indian military 8 Nov reported death of soldier from Pakistani shelling; improvised explosive device attack 17 Nov killed one Indian soldier and injured two in Pallanwalla sector. Within J&K, unclaimed grenade attack 4 Nov killed one civilian and injured dozens in Srinagar; further grenade attacks 26 Nov killed two in Badasgam village including govt official and injured four civilians in attack in Srinagar. Indian armed forces 26 Nov killed two suspected militants in Pulwama district. Indian govt 24 Nov announced joint deployment of special forces from army, navy and air force under new Armed Forces Special Operations Division, to conduct combined counter-terrorism operations against militants in Kashmir valley. Indian Home Ministry 15 Nov claimed situation in Kashmir close to normalcy but refused to provide timeframe for release of Kashmiri chief ministers detained since Aug; several released during month. Home Minister Amit Shah’s 20 Nov declaration that situation was “fully normal” prompted traders to shut down shops in protest. Indian media 25 Nov reported handful of businesses being allowed to restore internet for first time since Aug but under strict conditions, after promising connections would be used “for business purposes only” and accepting to give “complete access … as and when required by security agencies”; use of connections for social media, proxies, virtual private networks and Wi-Fi banned, and access for general public remains suspended. Pakistan PM Khan 9 Nov called for renewed talks with India including on resolution of Kashmir dispute at inauguration of India-Pakistan border crossing at Kartapur corridor connecting two Sikh shrines, first ever visa-free border crossing between countries. U.S. Congress Commission on Human Rights 14 Nov opened public hearing on human rights situation in Kashmir.
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.