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Kashmir Peace Setback

Interviewee: Dennis Kux, Senior Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Interviewer: Jayshree Bajoria
August 19, 2008

Recent clashes between pro-independence demonstrators in Indian-administered Kashmir and Indian security forces have raised concerns about a new chill in India-Pakistan relations. Protests started in July over an Indian government proposal to transfer land to a Hindu shrine in the Muslim-majority state. The situation soon snowballed into anti-India demonstrations reviving sectarian tensions and calls for independence. Dennis Kux, a former U.S. Foreign Service South Asia specialist and currently a senior policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars says: "It just opened up a sore that was there and that had been simmering underneath the surface."

Kashmir has been the flash point for two out of three wars the neighbors have fought so far. But a peace process that began in 2004 led by Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf had resulted in a thaw in relations until now. Kux says Musharraf's resignation may have an effect on the peace talks. According to him, the new government in Pakistan is weaker and "could well be less favorable to improved India-Pakistan relations or to continuing the dialogue."

Taking stock of the recent upsurge in violence, Kux says:

  • The Indian government's decision of land transfer was a major blunder.
  • The only option for the government now is to try and work out a compromise with the various parties.
  • Elections scheduled for October in the Kashmir valley may be less than satisfactory now.
  • The sectarian conflict in the state of Jammu and Kashmir has become more pronounced.
  • In both India and Pakistan, the current political situation is not conducive to the peace process.

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