India and Pakistan: War or Standoff

In June the world came closer to a nuclear war than at any time since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The sight of foreign nationals leaving Pakistani and Indian airports was a daunting sign that South Asia might be poised for its first conventional war since 1971. After intense international pressure Delhi and Islamabad have backed off. But no one really knows at which point nuclear weapons would come into play if Pakistan found itself pitted against a numerically stronger and technically more competent India.

The World Today
5 minute READ

Dr Chris Smith

This crisis is not just about the continuing dispute over the status of Kashmir. It is more to do with the way in which the separatist struggle has changed over the past eight years and Pakistan’s growing involvement across the Line of Control – the line dividing Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

The current chapter in Kashmir’s history began in the mid-1980s, when the separatist movement became more militant in response to the example set in other parts of India, notably the Punjab. It was also due to Indira Gandhi’s propensity to meddle in state affairs for her own Congress Party’s political gain. These resulted in a suspension of democracy and an overall downturn in the economic and political fortunes of the state. The activities of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front prompted an unduly tough response from the Indian security forces, involving the eventual deployment of some 400,000 troops in Kashmir and the frequent abuse of human rights and civil liberties.

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