05:41 GMT +317 June 2019
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    Kashmir Crisis: From Hybrid War to Hot War?

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    Andrew Korybko
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    Last week’s suicide bombing attack by a Kashmiri separatist against Indian paramilitary troops in the region was the deadliest in a generation and raised the risk of the Hybrid War in South Asia turning hot.

    India and Pakistan obviously have different interpretations of what happened, just like they have different views on the current status of Kashmir. New Delhi believes that its neighbor was behind the attack as part of its alleged long-running material support for the Kashmiri insurgency, while Islamabad denies these unverified claims and asserts that the Indian authorities are trying to scapegoat it to cover up for their own domestic problems in the region.

    About that, India claims the entirety of the pre-independence princely state of Kashmir all the way up to the Afghan border in what is nowadays the Pakistani territory of Gilgit-Baltistan, while Pakistan believes that the people of what is nowadays the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir have been denied their UNSC-entitled right to a referendum on self-determination. Both sides accuse the other of occupying Kashmir and claim that there are strategic reasons behind it, namely its location and water resources. It's not within the scope of this program to discuss the legitimacy of each party's claims, but just to introduce the audience to the background behind this very complex issue.

    It should go without saying that both countries consider the other to be waging a Hybrid War against them, or in other words, an indirect conflict carried out by proxy forces in order to retain plausible deniability and avoid triggering a larger conventional — or hot — war between the nuclear-armed neighbors. A less intense but nevertheless similarly high-profile attack occurred almost two and a half years ago in Uri, after which India controversially claimed to have carried out a so-called "surgical strike" against Pakistan despite presenting no public proof that anything of the sort took place. Once again, however, there's heated talk in Indian society of repeating this scenario.

    India's possible response to the latest attack takes on an even more outsized political importance than before because it occurs just months before the country's upcoming general elections which are widely regarded as giving the incumbent government a run for its money. Prime Minister Modi will be judged by his people based on what he does, and his every word and action will be carefully scrutinized and likely used against him by the opposition. This means that he's pressured to walk a very fine line in trying to satisfy his country's diverse political groups as he decides upon his ultimate response.

    Andrew Korybko is joined by Raja Faisal, Islamabad-based journalist and Feroze Mithiborwala, Founder and National General Secretary of the India Palestine Solidarity Forum.

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    Jammu, India, Asia, Kashmir, Pakistan
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