Will India swallow Kashmir? From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:
It has long been called the most dangerous place in the world. Still, few Americans know anything about the place; nor could they point out the troubled region of Kashmir on a map. Yet for 62 years India and Pakistan have contested for control of the province. In fact, a long-running insurgency there has even been punctuated by at least three inter-state wars between the nuclear armed powers. Now, after India recently revoked Kashmir’s “special status” – essentially annexing the disputed (and Muslim-majority) territory – there might just be another war. Tens of thousands have already been killed over the years; how many more will now die is anyone’s guess.
It’s tempting to blame the British for the whole mess. After all, like so many ongoing world conflicts, the violent struggle in Kashmir has its roots in the dissolution of venal, exploitative British Empire in the decades after World War II. Before its independence in 1947, British India – known as the raj – consisted of a massive, ethnically diverse mega-state that included the modern countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma (Myanmar). When the Brits took off, ethnic and religious tensions boiled over into a state of civil war as the raj bloodily devolved into separate Hindu and Muslim majority countries. Perhaps a million people died and fifteen million others were displaced in a tragic population swap that set a gold standard for ethnic cleansing.
For an area that could be the site of a nuclear war, Kashmir, split between India and Pakistan, gets remarkably little publicity. There are probably more people who know the song Kashmir by Led Zeppelin than who could find it on a map. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:
Two of the world’s most important powers, India and Pakistan, are locked into an extremely dangerous confrontation over the bitterly disputed Himalayan mountain state of Kashmir. Both are nuclear armed.
Kashmir has been a flashpoint since Imperial Britain divided India in 1947. India and Pakistan have fought numerous wars and conflicts over majority Muslim Kashmir. China controls a big chunk of northern Kashmir known as Aksai Chin.
In 1949, the UN mandated a referendum to determine if Kashmiris wanted to join Pakistan or India. Not surprisingly, India refused to hold the vote. But there are some Kashmiris who want an independent state, though a majority seek to join Pakistan.
India claims that most of northern Pakistan is actually part of Kashmir, which it claims in full. India rules the largest part of Kashmir, formerly a princely state. Pakistan holds a smaller portion, known as Azad Kashmir. In my book on Kashmir, ‘War at the Top of the World,’ I called it ‘the globe’s most dangerous conflict.’ It remains so today.
The Kashmir region between Pakistan and India may be the world’s most flammable tinder box. From Dilip Hero at nationalinterest.org:
And where billions of people die.
Undoubtedly, for nearly two decades the most dangerous place on Earth has been the Indian-Pakistani border in Kashmir. It’s possible that a small spark from artillery and rocket exchanges across that border might — given the known military doctrines of the two nuclear-armed neighbors — lead inexorably to an all-out nuclear conflagration. In that case the result would be catastrophic. Besides causing the deaths of millions of Indians and Pakistanis, such a war might bring on “nuclear winter” on a planetary scale, leading to levels of suffering and death that would be beyond our comprehension.
Alarmingly, the nuclear competition between India and Pakistan has now entered a spine-chilling phase. That danger stems from Islamabad’s decision to deploy low-yield tactical nuclear arms at its forward operating military bases along its entire frontier with India to deter possible aggression by tank-led invading forces. Most ominously, the decision to fire such a nuclear-armed missile with a range of 35 to 60 miles is to rest with local commanders. This is a perilous departure from the universal practice of investing such authority in the highest official of the nation. Such a situation has no parallel in the Washington-Moscow nuclear arms race of the Cold War era.
When it comes to Pakistan’s strategic nuclear weapons, their parts are stored in different locations to be assembled only upon an order from the country’s leader. By contrast, tactical nukes are pre-assembled at a nuclear facility and shipped to a forward base for instant use. In addition to the perils inherent in this policy, such weapons would be vulnerable to misuse by a rogue base commander or theft by one of the many militant groups in the country.
Kashmir is a powder keg that could set off a nuclear conflagaration between India and Pakistan. From Reese Erlich at antiwar.com:
On Feb. 14 a suicide bomber killed over 40 Indian soldiers in Kashmir in what India claimed was a terrorist attack. India retaliated by bombing a terrorist training camp, which turned out to be an uninhabited mountain top. The Pakistani air force shot down an Indian jet fighter, and India shot down a Pakistani plane.
Diplomats and the mainstream media focused on the danger of another war between the two nuclear armed countries. But the major media provided less information about the flashpoint for the crisis: India’s brutal occupation of Kashmir.
Assistant Professor Junaid Ahmad, director of the Center for Global Dialogue at the University of Management and Technology in Lahore, Pakistan, said in a phone interview that the conflict reflects “the bitterness and anger that remains from the British partition of the region back in 1947.”
Why the conflict?
Years ago I reported from a farm near the Pakistani controlled part of Kashmir. It was only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicle or on foot. Kashmir is spectacularly beautiful with rolling hills and a lush valley. In years past it was tourist destination and could be again if the conflict is ever resolved.
But if you live near the border with India these days, you’re hunkering down in bomb shelters to avoid errant Indian artillery fire. Civilians on the Indian side of the border face the same danger when Pakistani guns overshoot their targets.
The US just can’t stay out of the Middle East and central Asia. From Tom Luongo at strategic-culture.org:
With events escalating quickly in Kashmir it’s incumbent to ask the most pertinent questions in geopolitics.
And, Why Now?
India and Pakistan are both making serious moves to slip out from underneath the US’s external control. India has openly defied the US on buying S-400 missile defense systems, keeping up its oil trade with Iran and developing the important Iranian port at Chabahar to help complete an almost private spur of the North South Transport Corridor.
Pakistan, under new Prime Minister Imran Khan is trying to square accounts with China over its massive investment for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has also been at the forefront of multiple rounds of talks spurred by the Russians and Iranians to forge some kind of peace in Afghanistan.
And the Trump administration cut off US aid to Pakistan for not being sufficiently helpful in the fight against terrorism. This opened up a war of words between Trump and Khan who reminded Trump that the little bit of money the US sent Pakistan nothing compared to the losses both economic and personal.
If there was ever the possibility of peace breaking out between India and Pakistan it would be in the context of stitching the two countries together through China’s regional plans as well as solving the thorny problem of continued US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan.
Anything that can be done to flare up tensions between these two adversaries then serves the US’s goals of sowing chaos and division to keep the things from progressing smoothly. Khan was elected to, in effect, drain the Pakistani Swamp. His, like Trump’s, is a tall order.
An expert on the subject says that nuclear war between Indian and Pakistan is not out of the question. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:
While Americans were obsessing over a third-rate actor’s fake claims of a racial assault, old foes India and Pakistan were rattling their nuclear weapons in a very dangerous crisis over Kashmir. But hardly anyone noticed that nuclear war could break out in South Asia.
India and Pakistan, both nuclear-armed, have fought four wars over divided Kashmir since 1947, the lovely mountain state of forests and lakes whose population is predominantly Muslim. India controls two thirds of Kashmir; Pakistan and China the rest. This bitter dispute, one of the world’s oldest confrontations, has defied all attempts to resolve it.
The United Nations called on India to hold a plebiscite to determine Kashmir’s future, but Delhi ignored this demand, knowing it would probably lose the vote.
Muslim Kashmiris have been in armed revolt against harsh Indian occupation since the 1980’s. Some 70,000 civilians, mostly Muslims, have died to date. Today, India stations a million soldiers and paramilitary forces in Kashmir to repress popular demands by Muslim Kashmiris for either union with neighboring Pakistan or an independent Kashmiri state.
Can the turmoil in Afghanistan have an Asian solution, that is, one in which the US is not involved? From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:
Moscow hosted talks last week to promote peace in Afghanistan as neighbors and regional heavyweights eye the rewards of stability in the long-troubled land
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Tagged Afghanistan, China, India, Pakistan, Russia, Taliban