The conflict between Pakistan and India lies in their shared colonial past. Britain ruled most of the Indian subcontinent directly through the British crown from 1858 onwards. Territorial disputes over the Kashmir region sparked two of the three major Indo-Pakistani wars in 1947, 1965 and 1999. Britain had historically had separate electorates for Muslim citizens and reserved some political seats specifically for Muslims; that not only hemmed Muslims into minority status but fueled a growing Muslim separatist movement. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, a politician who headed up India’s Muslim League, began demanding a separate nation for India’s Muslim population, which ultimately led to the birth of Pakistan.
The current scenario between the two nations has been of constant turmoil. The has veen a recent attack on Indian forces on 14 February 2019, followed by a counterattack by Indian forces, wherein India launched a preventive attack based on the intelligence that there would be more attacks on Indian soil. Both sides have accused each other of violating the cease-fire.
India cancelled talks with Pakistan’s foreign minister in August 2014 after the Pakistani high commissioner in India met with Kashmiri separatist leaders. A series of openings continued throughout 2015, including an unscheduled December meeting on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. This led to a meeting between national security advisors in Bangkok a few days later, where the Kashmir dispute was discussed. Later in December, Prime Minister Modi made a surprise visit to Lahore to meet with Prime Minister Sharif, the first visit of an Indian leader to Pakistan in more than a decade.
Momentum toward meaningful talks came to an end in September 2016, when armed militants attacked a remote Indian Army base in Uri, near the Line of Control, killing eighteen Indian soldiers in the deadliest attack on the Indian armed forces in decades. Indian officials accused Jaish-e-Mohammad, a group with alleged ties to the Inter-Services Intelligence—Pakistan’s main intelligence agency—of being behind the attack.
Lack of justice and abundant examples of human rights violations in both Pakistan administered Kashmir and Jammu, and Kashmir in India, continue to be the key challenges in the path to a peaceful Kashmir. Currently, both sides have insisted that both the respective governments have no intention to further hostilities. As recent escalations have proven, these two nuclear countries on the brink of a potential catastrophe need to rethink their approach towards finding peace.
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Image courtesy of Nick Irvine-Fortescue via Flickr