Indo-Pakistani Military Confrontation

Indo-Pakistani Military Confrontation

A severe Indo-Pakistani military confrontation triggered by a major terrorist attack or heightened violence in Kashmir


The threat of a serious military confrontation between India and Pakistan has increased as a result of growing violence in Kashmir and a heightened threat of terrorist activity by Pakistan-based militant groups. Territorial disputes over the Kashmir region sparked two of the three Indo-Pakistani wars in 1947 and 1965.

Although India and Pakistan have maintained a fragile ceasefire since 2003, high-profile ceasefire violations have occurred in 2013, including the killing of nine Indian policemen and soldiers on the eve of talks between Indian and Pakistani leaders in September. Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahadeen—anti-Indian militant groups supported by the Pakistani army and intelligence agencies—have threatened to renew the jihad in Kashmir as U.S. troops reduce their presence in Afghanistan and the region.

The diversion of jihadi fighters from Afghanistan to Kashmir or a Mumbai 2008-style attack carried out by Pakistan’s militant proxies could trigger a severe military confrontation between the two nuclear-armed states. Having identified South Asia as an epicenter of terrorism and religious extremism, the United States maintains interests in ensuring regional stability, preventing nuclear weapons proliferation, and minimizing the potential of an Indo-Pakistani nuclear war.

However, Pakistan’s development of tactical nuclear weapons, refusal to adopt a “no first-use” policy, and continual production of fissile material enhances its capacity to wage limited nuclear war and heightens the risk that criminal groups could obtain a “loose nuke.”

Background Information
Breaking News
Primary Sources
Latest CFR Analysis
Related CFR Experts