Rising Tensions in Kashmir

A Growing Nuclear Danger on the Subcontinent

Masked protesters shout pro-freedom slogans amid smoke from a tear gas shell fired by the Indian police during an anti-India protest in Srinagar, November 2016. Danish Ismail / REUTERS

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will inherit rising nuclear dangers in five regions of the globe. Every one of them could get worse under his watch. Even before taking office, he has challenged Russia with a nuclear arms race it cannot win, while provoking China over Taiwan. He has threatened to rip up the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran, even though it could prevent Tehran from building nuclear weapons for 15 years. North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, has threatened to disregard the incoming president’s warning not to flight-test a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). If that doesn’t sound bad enough, look no further than the subcontinent, where Pakistan and India are engaged in an intense nuclear competition with little likelihood of slowing down.

In Indian-ruled Kashmir, New Delhi has lost the battle of hearts and minds in Muslim-majority areas, where security forces are in lock-down mode. In September 2016, after a series of terrorist attacks by Pakistan-based militant groups, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi carried out “surgical strikes” across the Kashmir divide. At the same time, he made thinly veiled threats about Pakistan’s water supply and territorial integrity.

Pakistan, which has suffered more from terrorism than India over the last eight years, claims not to distinguish between “good” and “bad” terrorists, but its actions suggest otherwise. Pakistan’s military and intelligence services continue to allow militant groups such as Lashkar e-Taiba and Jaish e-Mohammed to use Pakistani territory as a safe haven from which to carry out attacks against India. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is also reluctant to take on anti-India and violent sectarian groups that are based in Punjab, his party’s home base.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban leadership and Haqqani network have also found safe havens in Pakistan to plan and carry out operations against the Afghan government. As long as the government in Kabul remains hostile to Islamabad and friendly toward New Delhi, it is unlikely that military leaders in Rawalpindi will

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