Both India and Pakistan have ample reason to settle the longstanding dispute over divided Kashmir, which is boiling after a summer of violent clashes between protesters and Indian security forces.
This week has seen the highest number of deaths yet in a summer of protests in the Indian-ruled part of Kashmir. A territorial question mark that goes back to the partition of British-ruled India in 1947, this Himalayan hideaway is one of the world’s most heavily militarized zones, a powder keg lodged between two nuclear-armed states.
It’s in India’s self-interest to compromise over this dispute. India’s economy is growing rapidly. Delhi seeks a greater role as a global player. It has much bigger concerns than to have its future darkened by the shadow of uncertainty that is cast by Kashmir.
The same is true for Pakistan. It has a historic flood on its hands, a serious terrorist challenge, and a fragile democracy and economy to strengthen. (Its military deployment in its part of Kashmir, meanwhile, as well as Pakistan’s historic tension with India, hinder America’s war on terrorism in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.)
Surely, these incentives are enough to push Pakistan and India to make equitable compromises.
But as with the Middle East, if logic were the only consideration, a solution would have been found long ago. In Kashmir, as in the Mideast, layers of history obscure the way forward. Terrorist spoilers – and political and military hardliners – complicate the picture. Religious differences play a role, as do local conditions on the ground.