Order Code RL31481
Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Kashmir: Recent Developments and
June 21, 2002
Consultant in South Asian Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Analyst in Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Kashmir: Recent Developments and U.S. Concerns
Perennially high tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir have
hindered attempts so far to achieve a sustained peace process, despite occasional
moments of optimism. U.S. concern for stability in South Asia increased
considerably as a result of the racheting up of India-Pakistan nuclear and ballistic
missile capabilities, especially since their May 1998 nuclear tests. Almost exactly
one year after these tests, India and Pakistan appeared on the brink of launching their
fourth war in the past half-century. A two month skirmish which began in May 1999
near the town of Kargil along the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir marked the
worst outbreak of fighting between India and Pakistan since the India-Pakistan war
of 1971. Since Kargil, tensions over Kashmir have remained high. Following a
December 13, 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian parliament by militants alleged by
India to have been supported by Pakistan, a chain of events ensued that placed the
nuclear weapons states at military loggerheads. India and Pakistan have levied
sanctions against each other, mobilized their armies and positioned missile batteries
along their borders prompting the United States to embark on an intensive diplomatic
effort to calm emotions and de-escalate the warlike rhetoric and maneuvering of
these two South Asian adversaries.
Given these dangers, United States policy in the region is geared towards
reducing tensions between India and Pakistan, encouraging a constructive dialogue
and confidence building measures between the two countries, and working to reduce
terrorism in the region and worldwide. For further details of U.S. relations with India
and Pakistan, see CRS Issue Brief IB93097, India-U.S. Relations and CRS Issue
Brief IB94041, Pakistan-U.S. Relations). This report will be updated as
Recent Developments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Background to the Kashmir Dispute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Map of Kashmir Disputed Region . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
U.S. Concerns. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Major Events Since the Kargil Conflict
The Kargil Conflict . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
U.S. Involvement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Post-Kargil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
The Agra Summit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Post-September 11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
The Military Standoff and the Kashmir Situation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Defusing Tensions in Kashmir. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
U.S. Interests and Policy Options. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Kashmir: Recent Developments and
Most Recent Developments
In early June, the diplomatic efforts of Deputy Secretary of State Richard
Armitage and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld helped cool tensions between
India and Pakistan that had brought the two nations to the brink of war. Deputy
Secretary Armitage was able to persuade President Musharraf to halt infiltration and
to dismantle the training camps in Azad Kashmir. India, in return, pulled its naval
deployment, that had been close to Pakistani waters, back to home port. Pakistani
civil aircraft were given permission to overfly Indian airspace and India, reportedly,
lowered the alert status of its troops on the border. Discussions with Secretary
Rumsfeld focused on a range of issues but one of the main areas concentrated on
was, how to monitor the troublesome LOC between the two countries in Kashmir.
The United States reportedly agreed to provide sensors, satellite photos, and
unmanned aircraft to carry out monitoring.
Tensions between the two countries, already at a high point following the
December 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, had been lowering until events
in May 2002 drove both countries dangerously close to war. In particular, gunmen
(believed to be from Lashkar-e-Taiba) staged an attack on civilians on a bus and in
the family housing section of an army camp in the Kashmiri town of Kaluchak,
killing 32, including 10 children. India has claimed that the three assailants, who
were killed by Indian security forces, were from Pakistan. Although Pakistan
condemned the attacks, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee vowed to
respond with “appropriate action.” The attack came as Assistant Secretary of State
for South Asia, Christina Rocca, was visiting the region in an effort to defuse the five
month-long standoff between the two nuclear-armed nations.
Although many analysts have argued that the retaliatory action would probably
be a limited strike against Pakistani troops across the LOC in Kashmir, others have
warned that Vajpayee’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a domestic political interest
in allowing the conflict to escalate (to draw attention away from recent violence in
Gujarat in which more than 800 mostly Islamic Indian citizens have died). Many
have also argued that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has done little to prevent
infiltration of religious militants from Pakistan into Indian-controlled Kashmir since
his speech in January. The issue was further complicated by the reports that India
would strike against terrorist training camps in Pakistani Kashmir and President
Musharraf’s declaration that Pakistan would not rule out the first use of nuclear
weapons. By late May it seemed as if the two countries might be heading towards
the world’s first nuclear exchange.
Events within Indian Kashmir added to the confusion surrounding the IndiaPakistan tensions. In mid-May, Abdul Ghani Lone, a moderate separatist belonging
to the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, was assassinated while addressing a meeting.
Lone’s son initially accused Pakistan’s InterServices Intelligence of planning the
assassination but then backed away from the claim. Lone had called for a nonviolent settlement of the Kashmir dispute and some reports claimed that he was
considering participating in the September 2002 elections to the Kashmir assembly.
There were also reports of a split within the Hizbul Mujahedeen, the main
Pakistan based insurgent group fighting in Indian Kashmir. Following an editorial
in a Kashmiri daily, reportedly written by a Hizbul commander calling for a ceasefire, the Pakistan based leadership of the insurgent group first dismissed the report
as fabricated and then went on to expel three senior commanders including Abul Dar
Majid, the overall Kashmir commander of the group. Dar claimed that the Pakistan
based commanders were out of touch with the realities on the ground. There were
also reports that Dar was considering a run for office in the forthcoming Kashmir
elections. But the main focus of the international community remained on preventing
a war in Kashmir.
For the United States, the issue with Kashmir is how to prevent an all-out war
between India and Pakistan while concurrently maintaining Indian and Pakistani
cooperation in the anti-terror campaign and keeping bilateral relations with the two
nations on an improving trend. The United States also is interested in preventing the
conflict from escalating into a nuclear exchange and ensuring that nuclear weapon
related material in South Asia not be obtained by terrorists or other organizations that
would be contrary to nonproliferation efforts. For the long-term, the United States
seeks a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem while at the same time
attempting to avoid creating a sanctuary for extremist Islamic militants.
Current U.S. policy on the status of Kashmir is that it should be resolved
through discussions between India and Pakistan while taking into account the wishes
of the Kashmiri people.
Background to the Kashmir Dispute
India-Pakistan rivalry dates from the 1947 partition of British India into mostly
Muslim Pakistan and Hindu-majority India. Claims by both successor nations to the
former princely state of Kashmir have resulted in a half-century of bitter relations that
has included three wars: in 1947-48, 1965, and 1971. A U.N.-brokered cease-fire in
January 1949 left Kashmir divided by a military cease-fire line into the Indian state
of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-controlled Azad (Free) Kashmir and the
Northern Territories. The cease-fire line was renamed the LOC under the 1972 Simla
Agreement, which ended the third India-Pakistan war. In 1984, Indian troops
occupied the Siachen Glacier area in the undemarcated area north of the LOC, which
since then has been the scene of a costly, high-altitude military standoff between
India and Pakistan. (See map.)
Figure 1. Map of Kashmir Disputed Region
Meanwhile, India blames Pakistan for supporting a separatist movement in the
Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley that has claimed 30,000 lives since 1990.
Pakistan maintains that it lends only moral and political backing to the rebellion.
Pakistan seeks international support for the carrying out of the 1948-49 U.N.
resolutions that call for a plebiscite in Kashmir, by which the Kashmiri people would
choose to join either India or Pakistan. India maintains that the U.N. resolutions have
been superceded by various local elections as well as the 1972 Simla Agreement,
which calls for settlement of India-Pakistan differences through bilateral
negotiations. A number of the leading Kashmiri militant and political groups and
their supporters favor independence.
The economic and social development of both India and Pakistan — and, in
fact, the entire South Asia subcontinent — have been substantially held hostage by
the half-century Kashmir dispute. The bitterness and suspicion resulting from the
continuing feud have led both countries to devote a comparatively large percentage
of their resources to defense, including conventional, nuclear, and ballistic missile
weapons capability. Although the Kashmir dispute is rooted in the colonial era, little
progress toward resolution has been made during five decades of independence. Any
solution to the Kashmir issue must necessarily take into consideration the complex
tangle of ethnic, linguistic, religious, and legal issues that surround the dispute.
Above all, any settlement of the Kashmir dispute by India and Pakistan would appear
to require a new level of commitment, political will, and leadership by the two South
Asian adversaries. A major impediment to a resolution has been that many regard
the Kashmir issue as inseparable from the self-definition of the two states. Some
have argued that for Pakistan, which since its inception aspired to be the “homeland
for Muslims in South Asia,” the existence of a contiguous Muslim-majority state
outside its purview undermines the full realization of the state. For India, whose selfdefinition is as a secular nation that can accommodate a plurality of different groups,
the existence of a Muslim-minority state that can live within its borders is often
considered essential to the nation’s credo of unity in diversity. The option of a
Kashmir independent of both India and Pakistan has generally been outside the realm
of consideration for the two South Asian adversary states.
U.S. and international concerns about stability in South Asia have increased
considerably as a result of recent regional weapons developments. On May 11 and
13, 1998, India conducted a total of five unannounced underground nuclear tests,
breaking a 24-year self-imposed moratorium on nuclear testing. Despite U.S. and
world efforts to dissuade it, Pakistan followed suit, claiming five tests on May 28,
1998, and an additional test on May 30. Responding to these nuclear tests, President
Clinton imposed economic and military sanctions on India and Pakistan, as
mandated by section 102 of the Arms Export Control Act. The tests created a global
storm of criticism, as well as a serious setback for decades of U.S. nuclear
nonproliferation efforts in South Asia.1 On April 11, 1999, India tested its
intermediate-range Agni II missile, firing it a reported distance of 1,250 miles. A few
days later, Pakistan countered by test-firing its Ghauri II and Shaheen missiles, which
have a reported range of 1,250 miles and 375 miles respectively. Either country has
the capability of targeting the major cities of the other. India tested the Agni II again
in January 2001 and tested a short range variant of the missile in January 2002. The
United States has worked to encourage India and Pakistan to: (1) halt further nuclear
testing and sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT); (2) halt fissile material
See also CRS Report 98-570, India-Pakistan Nuclear Tests and U.S. Response and CRS
Report RL30623, Nuclear Weapons and Ballistic Missile Proliferation in India and
Pakistan: Issues for Congress.
production and cooperate in the Fissile Material Control Treaty (FMCT)
negotiations; (3) refrain from deploying or testing missiles; (4) maintain and
formalize restraints on sharing sensitive goods and technologies with other countries;
and (5) reduce bilateral tensions, including over Kashmir. U.S. officials have
continued to urge India to resume dialogue with Pakistan, while pressing Pakistan to
improve the climate for talks.
Major Events Since the Kargil Conflict
The Kargil Conflict
The confrontation between India and Pakistan along the LOC in Kashmir in
May-July 1999 was the worst outbreak of fighting since the 1971 war. The conflict
related to Indian attempts to dislodge some 700 Pakistan-supported fighters
occupying fortified positions along an 80-mile stretch of mountain ridges
overlooking a key supply route on the Indian side of the LOC near Kargil. According
to Indian sources, the intruders were mainly Pakistan and ethnic Afghan forces who
crossed the border in early spring to seize high altitude positions usually occupied by
Indian troops in the summer. Pakistan claimed the forces were Kashmiri
mujahadeen, or Muslim freedom fighters. Although India used air and artillery
barrages against the fortified positions, these were often ineffective, and two Indian
jets and a helicopter were downed early in the conflict. Much of the fighting came
down to Indian infantry assaults on mountain peaks under near-Arctic conditions.
Mounting casualties created domestic political and military pressure on the Indian
government to order strikes across the LOC to cut the supply lines of the infiltrators.
Such suggestions — although resisted by New Delhi— fueled international concern
over the danger of a widening war and the possible use of nuclear weapons.
U.S. Involvement. By early June 1999, the United States and the other Group
of Eight (G-8) countries had expressed concern over the destabilization of the LOC
and urged India and Pakistan to seek a bilateral resolution of the tense situation. In
what was widely viewed as a major diplomatic victory for India, the Clinton
Administration and most international opinion refused to accept that such a largescale, well-supplied offensive could have been planned or executed without
Pakistan’s support. India further claimed evidence that many of the fighters actually
were Pakistan army enlisted men and officers. Then-Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif flew to Washington to confer with President Clinton on July 4. It was
reported, in May 2002, that during this meeting President Clinton presented Sharif
with evidence that (without Sharif’s knowledge) the Pakistani military had deployed
nuclear-armed missiles to the border with India, a further indication of just how far
the conflict had progressed.2 Following the meeting, the two leaders issued a joint
statement in which they agreed that “concrete steps will be taken for the restoration
of the LOC, in accordance with the Simla Agreement.” They further agreed that “the
dialogue begun in Lahore in February provides the best forum for resolving all issues
Sipress, Alan and Thomas E. Ricks, “Report: India, Pakistan were near nuclear war,” The
Washington Post, May 15, 2002.
dividing India and Pakistan, including Kashmir.”3 Following Sharif’s return to
Islamabad, Indian and Pakistan military commanders met to discuss the modalities
for disengagement of forces and the withdrawal of the infiltrators, which was largely
completed by July 18.
Tensions between India and Pakistan remained extremely high following the
Kargil conflict. In August 1999, Pakistan accused India of shooting down a naval
aircraft over Pakistani territory, killing 16. India countered that it was shot down
over Indian territory. The October 1999 military coup in Pakistan further soured
bilateral relations because of India’s perception of Pakistan army involvement in the
Kargil fighting. India accused Pakistan of being behind the December 1999
hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane on a flight between Kathmandu and New Delhi.
The plane was flown to Kandahar, Afghanistan, where it remained until the crisis
ended, on December 31, with the release of the passengers and crew in return for the
release of three Muslim militants being held in Indian jails.
Throughout 2000, cross-border firing and shelling continued at high levels.
India accused Pakistan of sending a flood of militants into Kashmir and increasingly
targeting isolated police posts and civilians. Pakistan also accused India of crossborder raids by Indian soldiers. According to Indian government sources, more than
5,000 militants, security forces, and civilians were killed in Jammu and Kashmir state
in 1999-2000. The United States strongly urged India and Pakistan to create the
proper climate for peace, respect the LOC, reject violence, and return to the Lahore
peace process. The waning days of 2000 saw a reduction of tensions as India
announced in November that it was halting its military operations in Kashmir during
the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In December, the Pakistan government
announced that its forces deployed along the LOC in Kashmir would observe
maximum restraint and that some of its troops would be pulled back from the LOC.
Indian army officials noted that clashes between Indian and Pakistani forces along
the LOC had virtually stopped since the cease-fire began and that there had been a
definite reduction of infiltration of militants from Pakistan.
In February 2001, Prime Minister Vajpayee extended the cease-fire for three
months. The All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC) — an alliance of
22 political and religious separatist groups in India— cautiously welcomed the ceasefire offer “if it represents a sincere step towards resolution of the Kashmir problem.”
APHC leaders also sought permission from New Delhi to visit Pakistan in order to
discuss the Kashmir situation with Pakistani leaders and supporters of the Kashmiri
separatist movement. Kashmir’s main militant groups, however, rejected the ceasefire as a fraud and continued to carry out attacks on military personnel and
government installations. As security forces conducted counter-operations, deaths
of Kashmiri civilians, militants, and Indian security forces continued to rise. On May
23, 2001, the Indian government announced that it was ending its 6-month unilateral
cease-fire in Kashmir but that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would invite
“Text: Clinton, Sharif joint statement on Kashmir conflict,” USIS Washington File, July
Pakistan military ruler General (now President) Pervez Musharraf for talks to “pick
up the threads again...so that we can put in place a stable structure of cooperation and
address all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.”
The Agra Summit
On July 14-16, 2001, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee held talks
with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in Agra, India. Although widely
anticipated as a possible breakthrough in India-Pakistan relations, the July summit
failed to produce a joint communique, reportedly as a result of pressure by hardliners
on both sides. Major stumbling blocks were India’s refusal to acknowledge the
“centrality of Kashmir” to future talks and Pakistan’s objection to references to
The standoff between India and Pakistan over Kashmir has taken a new tone
since the terrorist attacks on September 11. Analysts in Washington have argued that
two militant groups linked to al-Qaeda – Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad
– have staged attacks in Kashmir and Delhi in order to provoke a major standoff
between India and Pakistan and divert Pakistani military attention away from
assisting U.S. efforts in the war on terrorism. On December 13, 2001, militants
reportedly from these two groups attacked the Indian parliament building in Delhi,
killing 14 and provoking the largest military buildup between India and Pakistan to
date. After intense U.S. diplomatic pressure, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
made a bold speech on January 12, 2002 in which he promised to crack down on
Islamic extremists. For five months, India adopted a wait-and-see attitude with
troops mobilized along the border.
During the ensuing few months, efforts were made to allow both sides to
withdraw their troops from the standoff. Top Kashmiri leaders from both India and
Pakistan met in Dubai on April 30, 2002. The thrust of the talks reportedly centered
on creating a congenial and peaceful atmosphere in order that India and Pakistan
could negotiate and allow the Kashmiris to present their case. Sardar Abdul Qayyum
Khan, the chairman of the National Kashmir Committee of Pakistan, and Abdul
Ghani Lone and Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat
Conference, attended the meeting.
The pro-Pakistan Kashmiri insurgent group Hizbul Mujahideen said it was
willing to lay down arms if New Delhi begins a “genuine process of settlement and
peace” in Kashmir. In May 2002, in an article in the English daily, Greater Kashmir,
Deputy Supreme Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, Moin-ul-Islam, stated, “Once
India takes an initiative with good intentions, she will find us ten steps ahead of her
one step. We will at once give up guns and observe real ceasefire so that [a] solutionfinding path receives headway.”4 (Subsequently, the authenticity of this offer was
reportedly rejected by official Hizbul sources.) Hizbul’s head, Syed Salahuddin,
went on to expel its chief operations commander, Abdul Majid Dar, and two of his
“Hizbul offers ceasefire, flays Hurriyat,” The Indian Express, May 3, 2002.
followers. Dar was the Hizbul leader who had offered a cease fire in 2000 that had
held out hope for peaceful negotiations in the valley. Some reports suggested that
Dar was considering running for office in the September elections to the Kashmir
assembly. The fact that Dar and other Kashmiri separatists are even considering an
election run suggests that there is growing exhaustion with waging a brutal
insurgency that has taken its toll on both the Indian army and the insurgents.
Participating in the electoral process may be one way to attain some of the goals that
the insurgent groups have been seeking.
The move to seek other avenues may also be coming from the concern that
Pakistan, as shown by its policy reversal towards the Taliban, might reduce support
to the Kashmiri mujahedeen. In that case having an alternative makes tactical sense.
Some analysts also argue that infiltration will become more difficult as India gets
better surveillance equipment from the United States–particularly sensors and
systems for border management. In fact, some Indian sources believe that
intelligence and technology sharing between the United States and India may be the
best way to monitor infiltration along the LOC.5 It has been reported that U.S.,
Russian, and Indian satellites are now monitoring both militant camps as well as
troop movements along the border.
The Military Standoff and the Kashmir Situation
The military standoff between the two countries has raised the fear of a nuclear
war, and both domestic and international factors have made it difficult for either side
to back down. The scope for miscalculation also persists. President Musharraf faces
domestic pressure from the main stream political parties that he alienated by his
decision to hold a referendum in April 2002. He also faces criticism from hardliners
within the military who first opposed the decision to stop supporting the Taliban and
are now against compromising with India.
The world community has not supported Pakistan to the extent it may have
expected in the current conflict. The leaders of several western countries have called
upon Pakistan to halt cross border infiltration by militant Kashmiris. Western leaders
have also been concerned because the Pakistani government has not declared a “no
first use” policy on nuclear weapons. Pakistan’s reluctance to do so comes from it
conventional weapons inferiority vis a vis India. The international community is
concerned, however, that nuclear weapons could be used as the first, and not the last,
resort in a major conflict. Initial utterances by Pakistani officials on the lack of a no
first use policy alarmed the international community. British Foreign Secretary Jack
Straw said that such a policy could not be tolerated, which led President Musharraf
to subsequently say that a nuclear war would be unthinkable and should not be
allowed to happen.
At the domestic level, President Musharraf is facing criticism about his April
30th referendum that was boycotted by the major political parties in the country.
Jihadi groups within the country are angry with the president for attempting to halt
C. Raja Mohan, “India’s Focus on Sharing Intelligence with U.S.,” The Hindu (New
Delhi), June 6, 2002.
infiltration into Kashmir and for removing support for the Taliban.6 Groups within
the military, so called Islamic hardliners, also reportedly are angry with Musharraf
for becoming a “lackey of the West” and for giving up both of Pakistan’s Jihadi
strategies–in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
Successive Pakistani governments have viewed reclaiming Kashmir as vital to
the country’s national interest and identity. Making concessions on Kashmir, without
a quid pro quo about the disputed status of the state, would be seen as bowing to
Indian and international pressure. In discussions with India, however, Pakistan will
be under pressure to take a different approach from the past one of using the support
of militants and the declaration that Kashmir is the core issue in India-Pakistan
President Musharraf stated that the only way to solve the Kashmir problem is,
“through flexibility from stated positions on both sides.” Pakistani observers view
this as significant since the military establishment has traditionally been very rigid
on its irredentist stand on Kashmir.7 Such flexibility, it has been argued, will be
required to lower tensions between the two countries and help initiate a series of
confidence building measures between them.
On the Indian side domestic constraints come from the Indian perception of
national identity, the concern with national unity, and, more immediately, from the
declining political fortunes of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). India’s belief is that
Kashmir represents an integral part of its secular identity, and that losing Kashmir
would suggest that the Indian state cannot function as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious
entity. Less articulated is the fear that if one ethnic grouping breaks away from India,
others might follow suit. India has faced separatist movements in both the NorthEast and the South. Finally, the BJP has faced widespread criticism at home and
abroad for its poor handling of the sectarian violence in Gujarat that led to the deaths
of over 800 people.
At the international level, the Indian government is attempting a delicate
diplomatic strategy of asking the international community to put pressure on Pakistan
while simultaneously keeping other nations from internationalizing what New Delhi
views as a bilateral dispute with Islamabad. The constraints on both the Indians and
the Pakistanis help explain what attempts may work in managing the relationship
between the two rivals and in helping contain the situation in Kashmir.
On the Indian side there was some discussion of waging a preemptive limited
war in Kashmir. The goal was to wipe out the militant training camps in Azad
Kashmir without provoking a broad conflict with Pakistan. The reported plan was
that the Indian Air Force would launch precision strikes on the camps in the same
way as the United States Air Force had on al-Qaeda locations in Afghanistan. This
was to be followed by an attack by Indian special forces on these sites. Heavy
casualties were expected.
Jason Burke, “‘Betrayal’ of Confused Jihadis,” The Observer, June 9, 2002.
Imtiaz Alam, “Success of an Unavoidable ‘Retreat’,” The News International, June 10,
The plan rested on the assumption that Pakistan was willing to limit the conflict
and would not use nuclear weapons. The latter view came from the belief that
Pakistan’s nuclear weapons had been secured by the United States and, therefore,
would not be used in a conflict.8 Implementing the plan would have been difficult.
India lacks the precision guided munition arsenal to carry out such strikes on 60-70
camps in Azad Kashmir. It would also run into fierce opposition on the Pakistani
side of the border. More difficult to contain, however, would have been the outbreak
of conflict in other border areas. Worse, if Indian reports are to be believed, Pakistan
may have tactical nuclear weapons and, if deployed in Kashmir, a military
commander would have no incentive to exercise restraint if his positions were being
overrun by Indian forces.
Defusing Tensions in Kashmir
In May-June 2002, the efforts of Deputy Secretary of State Armitage and
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld helped reduce tensions in the region. India has agreed
to allow overflights by commercial aircraft if Pakistan reciprocates. The Indian
government has recalled the five naval vessels that were patrolling close to Pakistani
waters and is likely to name a new ambassador to Pakistan. President Musharraf has
adopted a wait and see approach and says he will be satisfied when India reduces its
force levels along the border.
Maintaining long-term stability and security in the area, however, requires that
both countries work together, but at the moment their agendas diverge. The Indian
government has repeated its earlier offer of joint patrols of the border. The Indian
logic is that the militaries of both countries know the border well and they can
collaborate effectively to halt infiltration. Pakistan, while not rejecting the proposal
out of hand, has expressed doubts about its feasibility. It has argued that given the
current state of tension and distrust between the two armed forces it would be
difficult to operationalize such patrolling. The other problem is that by agreeing to
joint patrols Pakistani officials fear that this would be a de facto endorsement of the
LOC as the international boundary between the two countries. Pakistan reportedly
would prefer to have an international force monitoring the LOC, since such force
would be easier to implement and it would help internationalize the Kashmir issue.
India is unlikely, at least officially, to welcome a multinational force because
that it is committed by the 1972 Simla Agreement to bilaterally resolve all disputes
with Pakistan. It is also concerned that a multinational force would put pressure on
India to resolve the Kashmir dispute to Pakistan’s advantage. One report has also
suggested that India might allow U.S. special forces into Indian Kashmir ostensibly
to hunt for al-Qaeda forces but actually to monitor the border.9 Other reports indicate
that the United States has agreed to give India sensors to monitor the border.
Ahmad Faruqui, “India Losing the Initiative,” Asia Times, June 5, 2002.
Siddharth Varadarajan, “Rumsfeld has Special Forces Offer for India,” The Times of India,
June 12, 2002.
U.S. Interests and Policy Options
When coupled with the war on terror and U.S. relations with India and Pakistan,
the Kashmir issue becomes complicated and difficult to address through foreign and
security policy. The anti-terror campaign and hunt for al-Qaeda in the region would
be hampered considerably if the Kashmir conflict were to escalate to all-out war.
The threat that such a war would further escalate to include nuclear weapons also
presents serious challenges to U.S. nonproliferation efforts. Defusing the current
crisis and establishing some degree of stability in Kashmir is, therefore, important to
U.S. long-term interests.
Until the September 11 attacks on the U.S., however, in terms of U.S. global
strategy, South Asia tended to be of lower interest to the United States than the
Middle East or East Asia. U.S. forces in Asia are concentrated in South Korea and
Japan with a focus on potential hot spots along the Korean Demilitarized Zone and
the Taiwan Straits. Pakistan became a front-line state for the United States only
because of the campaign in Afghanistan. In the absence of the war on terrorism,
there would be few strategic resources for the United States in the region, nor are
there strong historical, cultural, or ethnic ties to it. Should the war on terror move
away from South Asia, American interest in the region could wane. Furthermore,
despite market reforms by both India and Pakistan, the volume of U.S. trade with and
investments in these countries remains relatively low. In other geopolitical contexts,
however, such as U.S. relations with China, the focus on India and Pakistan could
intensify, depending on circumstances.
The ability of the U.S. government to generate the domestic political support
necessary to intervene in South Asian affairs or for India and Pakistan to accede to
U.S. influence tends to be greatest in crisis situations – such as the one that currently
exists. Over the longer term, however, the United States could find it difficult to
maintain the type of long-term political and military commitment to South Asia that
it has maintained for other regions, such as East Asia or the Middle East.
Currently, the policy options for the United States to deal with the Kashmir
conflict seem to be to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan, to encourage an
ongoing dialogue and confidence building measures between the two countries, and
to work to reduce terrorism in the region and worldwide.
Since much of the current tension has arisen because of alleged incursions from
Pakistan across the LOC, an important step in reducing tensions might involve some
type of monitoring of the LOC in Kashmir. A system would be required that would
allow India to present proof of reported incursions but also enable Pakistan to reject
any false claims of infiltrations. Airborne or satellite surveillance would be nonintrusive and could help both countries make their cases. Another possibility would
be to expand the United Nation’s presence in South Asia to include monitoring the
LOC. Currently, India opposes an expanded UN role, as noted above.
Another source of tension is the short reaction time to a possible a nuclear attack
by either country – whether intentional or accidental. The concern is that neither side
may have sufficient controls in place to prevent either an accidental launch or a
nuclear strike by rogue forces. A reduction of nuclear tensions requires that both
countries have the technology in place that will allow them to have better control
over their nuclear weapons and mechanisms and facilities in place to prevent
accidental launches or theft. In the past, Western nuclear powers have been reluctant
to provide these technologies because it made nuclear weapons safer to deploy. Now
that each side appears to be operationalizing its nuclear weapons, more cooperation
may become necessary. Pakistan already has a nuclear command structure, while
India is reportedly moving toward establishing one.10
Encouraging an on-going dialogue and confidence building measures between
the two countries would include several specific projects, many of them non-military.
For example, one could be discussions on easing travel restrictions across the LOC,
particularly for those with cross-border familial ties. A second would be the sharing
of river waters. The Indus Waters Treaty guarantees Pakistan a share of river water
flowing from India. During the military standoff some analysts in India argued that
the country should shut off the water supply to Pakistan as a way of coercing it to halt
cross-border terrorism. The time may have come to discuss the latter part of the
Indus Waters Treaty that deals with the development of riparian resources. For the
two countries, harvesting river resources cooperatively could prove mutually
beneficial. Pakistan’s water supply would be further guaranteed, and India, like
Pakistan, could benefit from developing resources in the heart of its agricultural
With regard to the anti-terror campaign in the region, this is discussed in other
CRS reports and issue briefs.11 It is worth noting here, however, that in the solution
to the Kashmir conflict, a haven for Islamic extremists organizations not be created.
As veteran South Asia observer Selig Harrison has argued, there is the real danger
that an independent Kashmir, given the Jihadi nature of some of the insurgent groups,
could end up as another permanent sanctuary for Islamic extremist terrorist
See CRS Report RS21237, Indian and Pakistani Nuclear Weapons Status, by Sharon
See CRS Issue Brief IB94041, Pakistan-U.S. Relations, and CRS Issue Brief IB93097,
Selig S. Harrison, “India’s Bottom Line,” The Washington Post, June 11, 2002.