Once again, the world has to worry about the possibility of renewed war between India and Pakistan. A recent attack on Indian military forces inside the Indian-controlled portion of the disputed Kashmir region has pushed India to contemplate how to respond.
Indian Army Troops in Kashmir
On September 18, four militants of the Pakistani-supported insurgent group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) attacked an Indian Army base in the town of Uri in India-administered Kashmir and killed 18 Indian soldiers. Indian public opinion is enflamed, and demands action against Pakistan.
Multiple India-Pakistan wars have been fought since the two nations split apart from each other in 1947. The last “major” war was in 1971, but since then, many smaller border wars have erupted, along with significant instances of Pakistani-supported terrorist attacks inside India in 2001 and 2008 that nearly led to all-out war.
The world should worry about this ongoing conflict because both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, and on several occasions, have been close to using them on each other.
Pakistan supports the Muslim insurgents in Kashmir against the Indian forces there, while India provides (or so Pakistan alleges) support for rebels in Pakistan’s Baluchistan region. Additionally, India has provided diplomatic and economic aid to the government of Afghanistan, which has a hostile relationship with Pakistan due to ongoing disagreements over their common border and Pakistani support for the Taliban Afghan rebels.
From July, 2014, to November, 2015, India and Pakistan engaged in a series of border clashes that resulted in several military deaths on both sides, as well as the deaths of dozens of civilians on both sides of the Kashmir border.
This latest attack on Indian forces, while a part of a long, low-intensity conflict between India and Pakistani proxies, is significant in the number of Indian casualties. India showed restraint after the terror attacks in 2001 and 2008, but the current Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in power since 2014, has expressed the need for India to respond more forcefully to these types of attacks.
Will India attack Pakistan over this latest incident? Will this conflict escalate into another major war, and, if it does turn into another war, will both sides refrain from using nuclear weapons? In the past, diplomatic intervention from the United States has helped keep a lid on the situation, and one would hope that the diplomats are talking, but if public opinion pressures the Indian government to respond militarily against Pakistan, the situation could escalate quickly.