Terror attack in Kashmir can lead to India-Pak military confrontation: Report
The report, however, glossed over Islamabad’s use of terror as an instrument of state policy and the role played by Pakistan-based terror groups in targeting India.
Any terror attack in the Kashmir region can increase the risk of escalation, including a military confrontation between India and Pakistan, as well as the risk of a strong Indian response, according to the annual report of the Munich Security Conference.
The report, released during the conference that concluded in Munich on Sunday, listed the Kashmir issue among the 10 conflicts to watch out for this year. Tension between India and Pakistan had brought the crisis over Kashmir “back into sharp focus,” it added.
The report, however, glossed over Islamabad’s use of terror as an instrument of state policy and the role played by Pakistan-based terror groups in targeting India. It merely noted that as the US prepares to reduce its troops in Afghanistan, Pakistan, “which has long played an ambivalent role in Western counterterrorism efforts, would become the main lynchpin for efforts to prevent transnational terrorist groups from regaining strength”.
Citing the International Crisis Group’s list of 10 conflicts to watch out for this year, which included Kashmir along with Afghanistan, Yemen and the Persian Gulf, the report said that Kashmir had fallen off the international radar for years, but had come back into sharp focus because of the flare-up between India and Pakistan last year.
“New Delhi seems to have no road map for what comes next. The gravest danger is the risk that a militant attack sets off an escalation as insurgents in Kashmir are lying low but remain active. If a new crisis emerges, foreign powers will have to throw their full weight behind preserving peace on the disputed border,” the report said.
Conflicts involving North Korea, India and Pakistan and Iran “all hold significant potential for nuclear escalation”, according to the report.
In 2019, tension between India and Pakistan spiked after a suicide attack carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Pulwama, south Kashmir, on February 14, triggering air strikes by both sides. New Delhi’s move to revoke special status for Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 also heightened cross-border tension.
“In this strained situation, any attack committed by the Kashmiri insurgency bears the risk of escalation, including military confrontation between the two nuclear-armed powers,” the report said. It added, “Increasing ethno-religious nationalism and anti-Muslim sentiment in India heighten this risk, as they might induce Indian authorities to respond with particular force.”
The report took into account China’s growing role in the region that has added “another layer of complexity”. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also “stokes Chinese tensions with India”, it noted.
There was no immediate response from Indian officials on the Munich Security Conference report.
Former India ambassador Rajiv Dogra, who had served in Pakistan, said it was unfortunate that the Munich Security Report appeared to be “parroting what has been Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s line for the past six months”.
“Imran Khan has almost been egging on a terror attack against India. The people who prepared this report haven’t applied their minds to the real problem, which is terrorism emanating from Pakistan sponsored by Imran Khan,” Dogra added.