Pakistan-India Tensions nearly boil over in disputed Kashmir

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Photo via Flickr // My Past

Article by Nick Reem

On Thursday, tensions remained fraught in Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan region on the border between Pakistan and India, when a grenade detonated at a crowded bus station in Indian-controlled territory, killing one person and wounding others. Pakistan and India, along with China, have long asserted disputed claims to the region.

Pakistan and India escalated the long-dormant conflict to its highest levels in years beginning on February 14,  when a suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed 40 Indian troops. In response, India placed blame for the attack on Pakistan and responded by crossing into sovereign Pakistani territory to initiate a “pre-emptive strike” against militants that India blamed for the bombing on February 26th. This airstrike was the first time military forces crossed the de facto border since the 1971 war between the countries.

Responding to the incursion into its territory, Pakistan shot down Indian aircraft in retaliation, capturing an Indian pilot who ejected from his plane. However, in a symbolic peace gesture, Pakistan returned the pilot to India after two days of detaining him.

While this conciliation de-escalated tensions, both countries continued exchanging artillery fire across the border, leading to numerous deaths on both sides last week. With both countries being nuclear powers, the fallout from any potential war could be catastrophic – former United States President Bill Clinton once described Kashmir as “the most dangerous place in the world.”  Time will tell if further incidents exacerbate a still-tense situation.