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Pakistan and India: The Kashmir Border

#explained India and Pakistan have been feuding since they separated. They have had various levels of remission in their relationship, but a dispute that is always reoccurring is the Kashmir Border Dispute. It’s a fight that both countries have not been able to put to rest, and last month another violent quarrel began. As previously stated, the Kashmir fight between India and Pakistan is an old fight. It dates back to the partition of British India in 1947 and the creation of the modern states of India and Pakistan. Under the Partition Plan, Kashmir was free to accede by India or Pakistan. Hari Singh, the local ruler at the time, chose to allow India to accede. Subsequently, a two-year war erupted. Eventually, a formal cease-fire was declared on the 1st of January 1949, stating that India gained control of roughly two-thirds of the state, and Pakistan a third.

Another war followed in 1965, and another in 1999, until they both declared themselves to be nuclear powers. No further disputes happened. Neither country dared to toe the line- until last month.

In 2003, India and Pakistan, once again, came to a formal cease-fire after years of bloodshed. Pakistan promised to stop funding insurgents in the territory, while India offered amnesty.

The two countries seemed to be on respectable terms, until in 2015, India blamed a Pakistani extremist group for an attack on its airbase in Northern Punjab. To make matters worse, Mr Modi, India’s Prime Minister, cancelled a scheduled visit to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, in 2017. Since then, there has been no progress of amnesty discussions between the leaders. Matters continued to descend further into chaos, until the 14th of February, when the final straw had, decisively, been pulled.

More than 40 Indian soldiers, on the 14th of February, were killed in the suicide bombings. India blamed Pakistani-militant groups for the attack and named it the deadliest targeting of Indian soldiers in Kashmir since the insurgency began three decades ago.

In retaliation, India launched an airstrike in Pakistani territory, which was targeted at militant bases.

Only a day later, Pakistan shot down two Indian Air Force jets in its airspace.

Mr Modi’s intentions in ordering the original air strike was simple. Pakistan has long backed terrorists who mount attacks in India, even after promising to shut down such extremist groups. It has done nothing of the sort. Mr Modi wanted to signal that he was not willing to allow Pakistan to keep supporting terrorism.

In the long term, stability depends on Pakistan ending its support for terrorism. However, in the short term, Mr Modi needs to help stop this situation from escalating to the point of ‘no-return’. The ball is in India’s court. Mr Modi has a choice to make. He can either further aggravate the thinning patience of both countries, or just step back. The choice seems obvious, but Mr Modi has made a career of playing with fire.

If Mr Modi does play the ‘tough guy’ with Pakistan, he could find himself in a disastrous position. Whilst the combined arsenals of India and Pakistan are small compared to the US, China and Russia, they are more powerful than those dropped in Japan in 1945. It is simply not worth risking anything with stakes this high. Mr. Modi must not play with fire. The last thing the world needs is a mushroom cloud.

The best solution now seems to be settling their disputes diplomatically at the UN and attempting to put their Kashmir disputes to rest once and for all.

Jiya Chathley

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