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Expert Reaction: Conflict over Kashmir

Posted on 27 February 2019

An expert in political change and social transformation in the Global South comments on the growing conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

India and Pakistan claim all of Kashmir, but control only parts of it.

Dr Indrajit Roy, from the Department of Politics at the University of York, said: "The escalation of tension between India and Pakistan, both armed with nuclear capabilities, comes at a particularly critical time for both countries.

"Any Indian response now has to consider not only the potential risk to civilian life and possibly adverse affects on the country's rapidly growing economy but implications on the national elections scheduled in April / May.

"Were the elections to proceed as scheduled, Mr Modi may well be able to ride high on the wave of patriotism currently swaying the country and be re-elected.

Full-scale war

"However, an escalation of tensions into full-scale war will entail delaying the elections. The ensuing unpredictability may not be in the government's best interests.

"Pakistan's response has to be even more considered. Although armed with nuclear capabilities, Pakistan is weaker than Indian in conventional military terms. Its economic challenges are immense and it faces increased diplomatic isolation from its long-term allies in the west, rendering its ability to sustain conflict with India questionable.

"Misinformation is also rife. The location of India's raids on terror camps, the extent of terrorist casualties, the number of hostages taken by Pakistan in its operations, are easily lost amid claims and counter-claims on social media.

United opposition 

"Such misinformation is already generating a combination of jingoistic frenzy as well as confused panic about imminent war. Opposition parties accuse the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of politicising the military operations in a bid to bolster its sagging fortunes.

"The BJP, which seeks re-election under Mr Modi's leadership, faces a united opposition and growing unpopularity over agrarian distress, social tensions and mounting unemployment.

"Misinformation on social media is only likely to sway public mood in its favour."

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