A Crisis in Kashmir Threatens War Between India and Pakistan

Tensions are rapidly escalating between India and Pakistan, following a suicide bombing in India controlled Kashmir that killed scores of Indian security forces. In retaliation, India bombed what it called a terrorist camp inside Pakistani territory. The situation is still unfolding. At time of publication, an Indian Air Force pilot has been captured after his plane was shot down over Pakistan. Meanwhile, India is reportedly mobilizing its armed forces. On the line to discuss this ongoing crisis, and explain why Kashmir has become such a flash point between India and Pakistan is Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center. We kick off discussing the events leading up to this escalation, including the February 14 suicide bombing that killed nearly 50 Indian paramilitaries in Kashmir. The bomber in that attack was a homegrown member of a Pakistan-based terrorist group, which can explain why India retaliated by bombing a base in Pakistan.  We then have a longer conversation about the history of Kashmir, India-Pakistani relations, and why Pakistan is tolerant of terrorist groups operating from its territory. One thing I found particularly helpful in this conversation was Michael Kugelman’s description of the domestic political logic in India and Pakistan that propels conflict over Kashmir and also his analysis of how this crisis may play out in the coming days, weeks and months. Needless to say, India and Pakistan have gone to war with each other–the last time was in 1971. But now, they both have nuclear weapons so any hot crisis like the one unfolding now has the potential to descend into the worst-case scenario.

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