By Gabrielle Goldworm
Recent clashes in Jammu and Kashmir, a northern state administrated by India, have led to what the BBC has called the “the deadliest attack on Kashmir security forces in two decades,” with the loss of 17 soldiers stationed at a military base in Uri on September 18. The recent attack was the latest flare-up of several in the disputed area near the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, which has seen more than 80 primarily civilian deaths in the past two months during anti-government protests, according to the BBC.
Due to a long-standing contentious relationship with neighboring Pakistan, in part over what United Nations officials referred to as “sustained cross-border terrorism,” Indian officials were looking at Pakistani militants as probable culprits. No group has officially claimed responsibility for the attack, however, and Pakistan has denied any involvement, citing reported acts of brutality against the Kashmiri people by Indian officials as a sign that further investigation into India’s own actions in the region is needed.
Since July, the Kashmiri people have dealt with great unrest caused primarily by the death of a popular militant commander, Burhan Wani. The death has sparked outrage primarily from young Kashmiri citizens, many of who saw Wani as a role model. The recent attack on the military base was further evidence of the area’s increasing instability. A curfew was imposed on Kashmir for several weeks, but several Indian media outlets have recently begun reporting that it has been lifted in most areas, and that the region has returned to a state of relative peace.
NDTV, an Indian news outlet, reported that hundreds of young men signed up for an army recruitment drive three days after the attack on the military base, raising concerns that India may be bracing itself for a possible conflict. The heated discussion over the conflict, particularly the events during the day of the attack on the Uri base, has gone to the United Nations, with Indian and Pakistani representatives unable to come to any real conclusions as to how to effectively reduce the tension between the two nations.
The conflict between India and Pakistan is deeply tied to Kashmir, and both countries have a stake in how the coming months will unfold. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan said in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly that “peace and normalization between Pakistan and India cannot be achieved without a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.”