New tensions between India and Pakistan

Tensions between the two nuclear powers India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region have grown. Both sides claim that their fighter jets have been shot down by the other side. In mid-February 40 Indian members of the military died in an attack carried out by a terrorist cell from Pakistan. Why has the situation escalated again?

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Die Welt (DE) /

High time India responded

Pakistan is clearly responsible for the escalation, Die Welt writes:

“In recent decades it's become a speciality of Pakistan's to extend its influence in neighbouring countries through terrorist organisations: in Afghanistan, India and the Indian part of Kashmir. ... India, which after the massive terrorist attack by a Pakistani extremist group in Mumbai in 2008 was moderate in its response, has now come up with new rules and set an example. The message: attacks by Pakistani terrorist groups in India will now be viewed as attacks by Pakistan and answered accordingly. And not a moment too soon. This conflict must not escalate any further. Just as important, however, is that Pakistan put an end to its policy of giving free rein to terrorist organisations to destabilise neighbouring countries.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Risky election tactics

La Vanguardia, on the other hand, sees India as responsible for the escalation:

“The Indian airstrike comes in the run-up to the general elections scheduled for May in which the government under Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which until recently was considered invincible, has come under pressure because the Indian National Congress, the party of the state-founding Gandhi-Nehru family, has been reinvigorated under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. In view of the real threat of an electoral defeat, using the Kashmir issue to fuel Indian nationalism could be a tactic. Even though the risk of provoking a bloodbath should not be underestimated.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Democracy can be highly dangerous

Public opinion is pushing the heads of government towards confrontation both in India and Pakistan, warns The Daily Telegraph:

“There is a popular theory in foreign policy circles that democracy is a cure for warmongering. …. In each country, popular pressure is working to prevent compromise between two leaders who each fear seeming weak in the eyes of their voters. As a consequence, India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed powers, are sliding closer to the brink than Washington and Moscow ever did. … In India, where elections are looming, the chance to look tough has been an electoral gift for the populist prime minister who was already beating the nationalist drum and playing to a strong strain of domestic anti-Muslim sentiment.”

Wedomosti (RU) /

Luckily those in power are not hotheads

The world can count itself lucky that India and Pakistan are currently led by Modi and Khan respectively, Vedomosti stresses:

“Because in India and Pakistan two politicians are in power who pursue a moderate course and have already called for the conflict to be resolved through negotiations, there is no danger that it could escalate into a major war involving nuclear weapons. ... But we can't be sure that this would remain the case if more aggressive leaders were to come to power who provoke wars to consolidate their own power or to divert attention from economic and social problems. The latest escalation in the Indo-Pakistan conflict in Kashmir reflects an increasingly complex global order in which the probability of a local conflict turning into a global threat is higher than during the times of the Cold War.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Geopolitics collapsing in Asia

The superpowers the US and China are pulling the strings, writes Stefano Stefanini, former Italian ambassador to the US and Nato, in La Stampa:

“Geopolitics is collapsing in Asia. The protagonists are the two superpowers: the United States led by Donald Trump and above all Xi Jinping's China. ... So far the United States has held back. Trump has rejected Pakistan and sympathises with Modi. That's no big help. China's interests are of a strategic nature: one of the corridors of the Silk Road leads through Kashmir. For Beijing the challenge is to reconcile the role of protector of Pakistan with that of an anaesthetist in the crisis. This is the path to becoming a major global power.”