The US intelligence community, in its annual threat assessment, has warned that heightened tensions between India and Pakistan could lead to a direct conflict between two nuclear-armed nations, with the disputed valley of Kashmir listed as a potential ‘flashpoint’. The 2023 threat assessment also mentions rocky India-Pakistan relationship and its impact on the region. “Crises between India and Pakistan are of particular concern because of the risk of an escalatory cycle between two nuclear-armed states,” it warns.
Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute between Pakistan and India as it is still on the agenda of the UN and even powerful countries acknowledge its disputed nature. However, it is regrettable that neither the UN nor the world community is taking due interest in its peaceful resolution mainly because of the clout that India has in regional and global affairs. The longstanding US position on Kashmir is that it is a dispute and its status should be settled through negotiations between the two countries while taking into consideration wishes and aspirations of Kashmiri people.
The US also claims it is ready to mediate if asked by the two sides, which is obviously an evasive policy as India is averse to third party mediation as it is on a weak wicket in every respect on this issue. India has also throughout avoided meaningful bilateral dialogue with Pakistan and used talks merely to hoodwink international public opinion and gain time to consolidate its hold on the state. Taking advantage of the lacklustre attitude of the UN and international community towards plight of the Kashmiri people, India chose to strengthen its stranglehold on occupied Kashmir by altering status of the territory – by repealing Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and Section 35A of its Annex, which provided the state ‘special’ autonomous status, and by bifurcating the state into two successor ‘Union Territories’.
Kashmiris have unanimously rejected these unilateral measures and have vowed to continue their peaceful struggle to get the universally accepted right of self-determination. Pakistan also had been advocating constructive engagement and result oriented dialogue with India on all outstanding issues, including the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir yet unfortunately India persists with unabated hostility and retrogressive steps, vitiating regional environment and impeding prospects for peace and cooperation. Under these conditions, mere categorisation of Kashmir as a ‘flashpoint’ would not contribute to the cause of regional and global peace and security. Instead concrete moves should be undertaken by the UN and influential capitals to forestall possibility of any dangerous conflict.