Perspectives

India-Pakistan Conflicts Ratchet Up Tensions in an Already Volatile Region


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The recent conflict between Pakistan and India makes an already volatile region of South Asia even more unstable.
Over the past two weeks, the two countries have battled with air strikes into each country provoked by a suicide bombing that killed 40 people in India on February 14. It was executed by a terrorist from the often contested Kashmir region.
This rare use of air power is a major concern because both of these neighboring countries are nuclear powers, says Michael Kugelman, a leading specialist of Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan and their relationships with the United States.
Kugelman is the Deputy Director of the Asia Program and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. He is an author, editor, and contributor to major media outlets around the world.
The area of conflict is the Kashmir region controlled by India but always in dispute between the two countries and the indigenous population of the region.
The stability of this area is always important, says Kugelman, but because both countries have nuclear capabilities, any conflict between these two nations takes on heighten gravity.
He notes that these are two countries who have hated each other since they were partitioned from the former British Empire in 1947 and who are separated by a contested border (Kashmir), by religions Muslim and Hindu and both have nuclear arms.
Therefore, any disturbance in this region takes on global consequences and escalating military strikes generate grave concerns.
Normally, Kugelman states, that the United States has taken a “hands-off approach to this region except when there is a crisis.” Then the US tries to play the role of peacemaker.
Although the U.S. attempts to keep good relations with both countries, it has an expanding defense partnership with India which makes Pakistan uneasy.