The Cashmere Conflict between India and Pakistan

Another obstacle to the establishment of peace in Afghanistan

Ulrich Stahnke


In the beginning of 2011 was elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in New York for two years and will thus take part in all consultations and passings of resolutions concerning international crisis and conflict management. As India, like Germany, strives for a permanent seat in the reformed Security Council, India ought to take care to solve her conflict over Cashmere with her immediate neighbour Pakistan. In this conflict, which has been simmering for decades and which has also been relevant for European politics, there is one of several - if not the essential - key to the solution of the Afghanistan Conflict, which has put increasing strain on both Europe and NATO. As an opponent in the conflict Pakistan has appealed to the International Community for supporting the settlement of the conflict with India. In the following we will demonstrate how complex and multi-layered the Cashmere Conflict is, if there are any possibilities for a solution, and which those could be. As Pakistan is considered the epicentre of international terrorism by many experts, and India can be considered the much more calculable opponent, Pakistan will be in the focus of this paper. Pakistan attempts to convince the world of the idea that the country is a victim of Islamistic extremists as is the rest of the world. In reality, however, it is a victim of its own generosity and indulgence with the Islamists, and one cannot shake off a strong suspicion: Pakistan plays games and tries to gain both financial and political profit from the situation in Afghanistan. Whereas India’s economy is growing rapidly, Pakistan is on the financial drip of the West, and its military collects billions of US dollars assisting the allies in fighting terrorism. Pakistan’s strategy of causing India a maximum of military costs and loss of political legitimacy with a (feigned) minimum of military and political effort appears to be increasingly contrapuntal. The terrorist groups, which originally had been organized, trained and subsidized by Pakistan, less and less let themselves be controlled. On the contrary, they cooperate with the Islamistic domestic opponents of the state, they are involved in internal Pakistan attacks and disturbances, and they tend to contribute to disagreements, to fundamental policy disputes, and to instability of the military and secret service organizations. A strategy originally designed to weaken India’s position in Cashmere now jeopardizes Pakistan’s internal security, the functioning of its military organization, the survival of the nation and, last but not least, the indispensable cooperation with the USA. The West needs Pakistan if it wants to bring peace to Afghanistan. Without a solution in Cashmere, political and economic progress will be difficult in this region, if not entirely impossible. In all, considering the historical dimension of the conflict and the far-reaching alienation of both state elites and populations, one will have to remain properly sceptical as far as a quick solution of the Cashmere Conflict is concerned.