Published 19 May 2018
The Indian government has announced a halt in operations against militants in Kashmir for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. On its face that should be welcomed, given the steady rise in violence this year, though skeptics have said it will give Islamist separatist militants time to gather strength.
In any case, it requires a strong leap of faith to expect that the break, if it holds, can achieve anything resembling a peace process.
The struggle over Kashmir is one of those territorial disputes that seem only to deepen and to assume greater symbolic importance as decades go by and the atrocities and resentments on both sides pile up.
The conflict dates back to the end of British rule in 1947 and has been the cause of the three wars between India and Pakistan. Since 1989, an Islamist insurgency supported by Pakistan has further complicated the conflict and raised the death toll.
Border skirmishes along the heavily armed Line of Control dividing Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir are common. With India and Pakistan both in possession of nuclear arms,
former President Bill Clinton once called the border “the most dangerous place in the world.” On Friday, despite Ramadan, a fierce exchange of fire between border posts left eight civilians dead.
The Ramadan cease-fire was sought by the chief minister of the Indian-administered part of Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, who has found herself increasingly isolated since her political alliance with India’s dominant party, the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has failed to lower violence.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, is due in Kashmir over the weekend to inaugurate development projects.( New York Times )