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.
Militant attacks and counter-insurgency operations inside Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) sharply intensified, while clashes across Line of Control (LoC, dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir) continued. Militant related-violence spiked in J&K: in Anantang district, militants 2 April killed local resident and same day killed paramilitary officer; paramilitary forces said they had killed four alleged Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Kulgram district 4 April; next day, army claimed five suspected militants, who infiltrated across LoC, killed in clash in Kupwara district, which reportedly also killed five soldiers; police 8 April reported govt forces killed militant in clash in Baramulla district; following day, security forces killed alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed militant in Sopore town; police official 17 April said govt forces killed four militants in two separate clashes in Kishtwar and Shopian districts; security forces 26 April killed four alleged militants in Ashtal village, Kulgram. Cross-LoC fire between India and Pakistan continued amid increased hostile rhetoric on both sides. Following new set of domicile rules for J&K issued by Indian govt 1 April, easing rules for securing permanent residence, including for students, civil and military personnel and their children, Pakistani PM Khan next day tweeted law was attempt to “illegally alter the demography” of Kashmir “in violation of all international laws & treaties”; Indian external affairs ministry 4 April responded Islamabad would best serve J&K by “ending cross-border terrorism and desisting from its campaign of violence and false propaganda”. Pakistani army 9 April said it shot down Indian surveillance drone, though India denied ownership; India army 10 April reported Pakistani cross-LoC firing killed three civilians; Pakistani military said Indian firing seriously injured six civilians 11 April and killed young child 13 April; senior Indian commander 13 April alleged Pakistani army attempted to infiltrate COVID-19 infected people into Kashmir Valley, accusations Pakistan branded as “baseless”. Indian army chief 17 April accused Islamabad of “fomenting trouble” and “exporting terror” into Kashmir during pandemic; same day, Pakistani foreign ministry rejected allegations as “irresponsible” and “spurious”.
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.