India’s government is intensifying a failed strategy in Kashmir

Mar 07, 2019

GUNS HAVE slipped back into holsters and diplomats behind their desks; the Samjhauta or “Concord” Express has resumed its reassuring bi-weekly chug connecting Lahore Junction and Old Delhi Station. Relations between India and Pakistan are returning to the normal huffy disdain after a week of military brinkmanship. For the divided and disputed border region of Kashmir, there is relief. Yet in the Kashmir Valley, a fertile and densely populated part of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, this comes tempered with weariness. For its 7m inhabitants, most of them Muslim, a return to normal means a large and growing pile of frustrations. Some, such as bad government services and a deepening shortage of jobs, are familiar to all Indians. Others are unique to the valley.

Pakistan views the valley’s Muslims as sundered citizens; its constitution prescribes what should happen not if, but “when”, Kashmiris vote to join Pakistan. And since independence in 1947, Pakistan has never ceased trying to hasten this moment by sending guerrillas over the border to stir up jihad—although this week it claimed to rounding up such militants. India, for its part, says that Kashmir was lucky to fall to a secular, democratic country at partition and not to its violent, narrow-minded neighbour. But Indian governments turn deaf the moment people in the valley...


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