Any militant attack on Indian forces in occupied Jammu and Kashmir could set off an escalation between India and Pakistan, the Crisis Group has warned.
In its report titled “10 conflicts to watch in 2020”, the group said the pro-freedom militants were lying low in Kashmir but they were still active.
“India’s heavy-handed military operations in Kashmir over the past few years have inspired a new homegrown generation, whose ranks are likely to swell further after the latest repression,” the report said.
Indian fighter planes had violated Pakistani air space after a pro-freedom militant attack that killed at least 40 paramilitary soldiers in Pulwama on February 19, 2019. In retaliation, Pakistan had shot down two Indian jets over Kashmir on Feb 27, and captured an Indian pilot as well. He, however, was released by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government as a “gesture of peace”.
The Crisis Group warned that any Pulwama-like attack on Indian forces in Kashmir would precipitate Indian action against Pakistan.
“In a worst-case scenario, the two nuclear-armed neighbours could stumble into war,” the report said.
The Crisis Group asked New Delhi to lift the communication blackout and release political prisoners in the India-administered part of the Kashmir valley. It also asked Pakistan to take action against militants allegedly operating from its soil.
The Crisis Group further urged the international community to push Pakistan and India for talks “before it is too late”.