Friday, June 21

Kashmir conflict could snowball into nuclear war



A member of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet has warned that, if left unchecked by the international community, the fallout of India’s controversial move in Kashmir could lead to a nuclear conflict between the two longtime rivals.

Speaking to Newsweek, Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, who serves as Khan’s special assistant for overseas Pakistanis and human resource development, discussed the Pakistani leader’s upcoming visit to New York as part of the United Nations General Assembly.

Bukhari said Khan’s trip would be “very Kashmir-centric,” revolving around India’s decision last month to consolidate control over its share of the disputed border territory and the ongoing human rights concerns that have since emerged there.

Kashmir has been the subject of three out of four major wars between India and Pakistan since their 1947 partition at the hands of their former colonizer, the United Kingdom. Asked if he was concerned that another major conflict could erupt between the neighbors as the situation in India-administered Kashmir deteriorated, Bukhari said, “Absolutely.”

“We’re extremely concerned that this could snowball into a nuclear war, you have two nuclear countries,” Bukhari told Newsweek. “We’re extremely worried about an escalation.”

While India and Pakistan’s effective border has for decades been defined by the Line of Control splitting the Himalayan valley of Kashmir, the territorial dispute remains unsettled and deadly clashes have continued on both sides of the frontier. The sensitive situation witnessed a major escalation in February when tensions in Kashmir erupted into cross-border attacks.

The unrest began with a suicide attack that killed 40 Indian security personnel in the India-administered Kashmir town of Pulwama and was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed, one of several Islamist militant groups New Delhi accuses Islamabad of backing.

Less than two weeks later, Indian aircraft conducted airstrikes against alleged insurgent training camps in the town of Balakot, part of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, resulting in Pakistani counterstrikes and an aerial dogfight that led to the loss of at least one Indian fighter jet.