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Line of Control: India Launches Attacks against Kashmir Militants

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By William Tucker
Contributor, In Homeland Security

According to Army officials, the Indian Army carried out surgical strikes against suspected Kashmiri militants located across the Line of Control in Pakistan today. India claims that the militants suffered significant casualties. However, Pakistan denied the claim, stating that two of its soldiers were killed in cross-border shelling.

Pakistan went on to call India’s military operation unprovoked. Earlier this month, 18 Indian soldiers were killed in an attack on a military base located in Kashmir. Delhi blamed the deaths on militants supported by Islamabad.

Instability Increases in Kashmir, Blocks Diplomatic Progress

Protests and wider unrest are not unusual in Kashmir, but tensions have increased significantly since July 2016, when India killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

Kashmir is no stranger to unrest, terrorism or conventional warfare. India and Pakistan have fought wars over the region in 1947, 1965 and 1999, the latter known as the Kargil Conflict, while India and China fought a war in the region in 1962.

China transferred a portion of the land seized in the ’62 conflict to Pakistan – a move that India claimed to be illegitimate. High unemployment and a stagnating economy further undermines stability in Kashmir.

Pakistan has sown unrest in this region in the past, but it is unclear if Islamabad had a hand in the attack on the Indian military earlier this month. In a response dictated by the ruling BJP party of India, Delhi promised to take a hard line against Pakistan’s support of terrorism. As both nations engage in bilateral talks to improve relations, the current conflict and status of Kashmir is an effective stumbling block to progress.

Finger-pointing between Pakistan and India are par for the course and are effective at galvanizing support for local elections. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif won 76% of the seats in the Pakistan-controlled portions of Kashmir by taking a hard line with India.

US and Other Countries Avoiding Kashmir Conflict

Recently, both governments tried to pull the United States into the current crisis. However, Washington politicians are fully engaged in fighting for reelection, while President Obama is set for retirement. No politician wants to get bogged down in an intractable issue while they are on the campaign trail, lest they create fodder for their opponents.

Other powers with ties to the region – such as the U.K., China, and Japan – have also chosen to sit out this crisis for domestic and international reasons.

The Kashmir issue remains unresolved through diplomatic means at this time. Although armed conflict hasn’t changed the situation in the past, it still appears to be a viable option to the leaders in Delhi and Islamabad.

Global Economic Slowdown May Impact Kashmir Conflict

The global economy is slowing down, which may make the situation worse. However, the economic slowdown may also have an arresting effect on a larger use of military force by India or Pakistan.

The situation is still in flux and we cannot rule out blatant aggression from either side. As a result, Kashmir remains on the U.S. radar for the foreseeable future.

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