The ambush and mutilation of two Indian troopers by a Pakistani Border Action Team, or BAT, near the LoC in Kashmir Monday was not the first such event, nor will it be the last. Kashmir is back on the boil because an emboldened Pakistan believes the tide is turning in its favour. For one, the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor ensures China now has an economic and strategic interest in resolving the Kashmir issue in Pakistan’s favour. Having part of the corridor running through territory which India claims erodes China’s strategic credibility in the region.
An article in China’s state-run Global Times Monday sanctimoniously declared that ‘Given the massive investment China has made in countries along the One Belt, One Road, it now has a vested interest in helping resolve regional conflicts including the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan.’
Islamabad’s growing convergence with China and Russia over Afghanistan and US President Trump’s flip-flop over American mediation in Kashmir have raised the confidence at GHQ, Rawalpindi. More importantly, Pakistan also believes the international community is slowly veering around to its narrative that Kashmir is a domestic uprising, to which Pakistan only offers “moral” support.
The differences within the coalition government in Srinagar combined with the absence of a clear strategy in New Delhi has only encouraged further Pakistani perfidy. The increasing number of attacks on Indian security forces, the robbing and looting of banks, and terrorists threatening local political leaders and even senior policemen and bureaucrats comes from this Pakistani perception that the time is ripe to wrest Kashmir from India. The other worrying shift is that instead of azaadi, the Kashmir narrative is becoming increasingly religious in nature. The Indian Army will no doubt avenge its men. But unless New Delhi manages to quickly wrest the initiative, it looks like a long violent summer in the vale of Kashmir.