ICG on democracy-building in Kashmir

June 7, 2010, 1:44 p.m.

Crisis Group argues that, to resolve tensions in Kashmir, India should govern with an eye to growth while Pakistan clamps down on terrorism:

The Indian government cannot afford to postpone crucial decisions to improve centre-state relations. It should revive the “special status” guaranteed by the constitution and repeal all draconian laws. Replacing military-led counter-insurgency with accountable policing and reviving an economy devastated by violence and conflict would instil greater confidence among Kashmiris. It is in New Delhi’s interest to be regarded as a sincere partner committed to improving Kashmiri lives, not as an occupying force. While Pakistan’s elected civilian leadership has expressed a desire for improved bilateral relations and to resume the composite dialogue, it must ensure that jihadis can no longer disrupt the regional peace. Islamabad must also make certain that civilian institutions, particularly AJK’s elected bodies, drive the normalisation process. Likewise, policymakers in both the national capital and Muzafarabad should prioritise reforms that open political debate to all shades of Kashmiri opinion, stimulate the local economy and end AJK’s over-dependence on the centre. This briefing resumes Crisis Group reporting on the Kashmir conflict after a four-year gap, assesses existing cross-LOC CBMs and identifies the key political, social and economic needs of Kashmiris that need to be addressed on both sides of the divided state.

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