The disputed region of Kashmir and Jammu has endured persistent conflict since Indian and Pakistani independence in 1947. Militancy and fears of nuclear escalation abound as both states and state-sponsored groups battle for control and influence in the area.

A History of Conflict

A Himalayan region bordering India, Pakistan, and China — Kashmir and Jammu was not immediately claimed during the 1947 independence movements. India and Pakistan fought over the area in 1947, 1965, and 1999, but failed to resolve the territorial dispute. Today, Pakistan controls the western and northern areas of the region, China claims eastern portions, and India controls most of the area including the Kashmir valley. A 450-mile militarized Line of Control separates the Indian and Pakistani sides.

In addition to border militarization between Pakistan and India, militant groups and home-grown insurgents regularly clash with Indian security forces. Seeking to promote independence or religious ideological pursuits, militant groups in the region have for decades launched attacks against Indian military forces. Even local protests in Indian controlled cities have spiraled into deadly confrontations.

Global Security Implications

Nuclear warfare and proliferation of terrorism are key security challenges in Kashmir and Jammu. With both India and Pakistan as nuclear powers, any conflict that spreads from Kashmir into a broader border conflict risks escalation into nuclear posturing between the nations. Additionally, militant groups fighting in the area have connections to al Qaeda, and Kashmir can operate as terrorist safe havens and training grounds.

The Road Ahead

No nation or militant group in the region seems open to peaceful negotiation at this time. Instead, all sides are content to bear a moderate amount of conflict as they continue to fight for control of the area. As deaths mount and human rights abuses continue, the various stakeholders should look toward economic development as a starting point for peaceful resolution to the dispute.

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