Kashmir crisis 2019: Between a rock and a hard place

The year 2019 has been one of dramatic political eruptions in Kashmir, a Himalayan region divided between and disputed by Pakistan and India.

A climax of sorts came in August when the Indian government amended its laws to annex the part of Kashmir it controls, leaving the world in shock.

But Kashmir is a region used to upheaval: India and Pakistan fought three wars here since their independence from British colonial rule in 1947, and a Pakistan-backed Islamist insurgency has been raging across the region in undulating waves since the 1980s, leaving more than 70,000 people dead.

Why was 2019 so unnerving for the region?

This year started with an attack linked to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group. In February, a 22-year-old resident of Pulwama district in Indian-administered Kashmir, who had gone missing a year earlier, drove an explosives-laden vehicle into an army convoy, killing more than 40 Indian soldiers and himself.

JeM’s soon claimed the attack and posted a video of the bomber online.

The Pulwama attack led to India’s first cross-border strike on Pakistani territory since the two countries’ 1971 war. On 26 February, Indian jets flew into the Balakot region and bombed what they described as a JeM training centre.


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