Only time will tell whether efforts made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will lead to a sustainable deescalation of tensions between the two feuding superpowers.
The past several weeks have seen a major uptick in conflict between Pakistan and India, after a devastating suicide attack in Kashmir left 40 soldiers dead and the country in civil discord, the worst incident of its kind in three decades. Soon after the attack, a Pakistan-based terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed responsibility for the attack, prompting Indian nationalists to call for revenge against Pakistan for what they believed to be a clear link between the terrorists and the state — a premise of thought made more evident by India's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claiming "(They) cannot claim that it is unaware of their presence and their activities. They have not taken any action against these groups despite international demands."
Four days later, nine people, including four Indian soldiers and one policeman, were killed in India-controlled Kashmir, further escalating the tension that has existed between the two nuclear superpowers since Pakistan's inception in 1947.
Despite Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's offers of assistance to the Indian government to help them investigate the suicide bombing, India's government refused to acknowledge Khan's disclaiming of any link between the terrorists and the state of Pakistan, citing previous incidents in Mumbai. On February 27th, Indian jets carried out airstrikes on a militant camp in the Balakot area of Northwestern Pakistan in their first crossing of the border since 1971, and Pakistani fighter planes retaliated by dropping bombs inside Indian-controlled territory (with no casualties) in order to demonstrate their willingness to retaliate. A dogfight soon ensued, with the end result being the capture of Indian pilot Wing Cmdr. Abhinandan Varthaman. Seeking to deescalate the rising tensions, Prime Minister Imran Khan quickly released and returned the pilot safely back to India.
While the conflict between the two nations has come to a brief standstill, the people of Kashmir still live in a state of uncertainty, fully aware of the knowledge that one wrong move by either side could result in a full-blown war that would devastate both Pakistan and India as well as the population of Kashmir at a catastrophic level, driven by decades of hatred fueled by religious extremism on both sides of the territory. Both Pakistan and India have utilized the 460-mile stretch of Kashmir, unofficially known as the Line of Control, as a venting mechanism to air out conflict, which has led to a rising tide of civilian deaths in a modern era Cold War.
In 2018 alone, 50 people were killed on India's side of the line by cross-border firing, while 36 people were killed on Pakistan's side. Only time will tell whether efforts made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will lead to a sustainable deescalation of tensions between the two feuding superpowers, but we must hope that the calm judgement of sound minds from both parties will prevail in this ever-changing political landscape, both for the good of Kashmir and for the people of Pakistan and India.