Stimson in the News

Kashmir’s Escalatory Potential by Michael Krepon

in Program

I was relatively sanguine after the last spike in tension on the subcontinent in February, marked by a Kashmiri youth aiming a vehicle loaded with RDX against a cordon of Indian patrolmen, followed by the first aerial combat between Pakistan and India since 1971.

An earlier dustup ended when Rawalpindi declared that advertised Indian “surgical strikes” by commandos didn’t happen. This crisis ended when both governments declared victory after the Indian Air Force fared poorly. My takeaway was that (for now), New Delhi and Rawalpindi can both manage public opinion successfully as long as the outcome is not exceptionally and obviously bad. This is helpful for escalation control.

I was also thinking that the region would have a breather because Pakistan’s economy is a mess, with the country sinking in debt. Foreign direct investment has been scared off by the use of militant groups to keep Kashmir on the boil, actions that caused severe blowback at home. Pakistan’s current stance with respect to terrorism is being judged by the Financial Action Task Force, an outgrowth of the G-7; getting off its “gray list” this fall is essential to the country’s recovery.

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