The crucible for conflict in South Asia is the disputed region of Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India. Inspite of a ceasefire agreement signed in 2003, border skirmishes are a regular occurrence. Pakistan’s disproportionate counterterrorism strategy, focussing on internally-focused, rather than externally-focused groups- is a key source of tension in the country’s relationship with India and Afghanistan.
Potential for conflict with India hangs over Pakistan like the sword of Damocles. The disputed region of Kashmir remains the primary flashpoint, over which the countries have regularly clashed and a ceasefire agreement came into affect in 2003. Militant groups, such as Lashkar-e- Taiba, have been active in active in Kashmir for a number of years with the goal of establishing an independent Kashmir or merging with Pakistan. India has long accused Pakistani military of providing support to such groups. Islamabad, meanwhile, claims that India is assisting Baloch separatists.
Dialogue regarding Kashmir has repeatedly been disrupted as a result of cross border attacks in the region. In late December 2015 there were some signs of progress, as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came for a surprise visit to Pakistan. However, in early January 2016, a military base in Pathankot, India was attacked for which New Delhi blamed Pakistan based Jaish-e-Muhammad (...
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...s India- which is a concern for Pakistan. Pakistan’s counter-terrorism double game is an issue for Washington, as authorities in the country have failed to deal effectively deal with groups like Lashkar-E-Taiba, Haqqani Network and Afghan Taliban. Nevertheless, the US needs Pakistan in its global war on terror, and is hoping that Pakistani army officials will lift their game so that sale of up to eight F-16 fighters can go ahead, to be used in curbing terror operations.
Having said that, Washington’s alliance with New Delhi remain much stronger than its relationship with Pakistan. The lack of concrete actions by Pakistani authorities against terror networks, as well as strong anti-US sentiment among the Pakistani public due to US drone strikes, will hamper rebuilding of trust. Pakistan is likely to move closer to Russia and China, both US rivals, in the coming years.
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