Dr Sushil Aaron is Director of Projects at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. He was for several years a Political Adviser at the British High Commission, New Delhi, covering India-Pakistan relations, Kashmir, Afghanistan and wider foreign policy issues. He has previously been a Sir Ratan Tata Fellow at the London School of Economics and Research Fellow at the Centre de Sciences Humaines. He is interested in India-Pakistan relations, South Asian affairs and Indian politics – and his publications include Straddling Faultlines: India’s Foreign Policy in the Greater Middle East.
Kashmir no longer figures as an area of pressing concern for policymakers, even though the conflict has sparked three India-Pakistan wars and cost over 60,000 lives since the insurgency began in 1988. This is a remarkable turnaround for a place that was once deemed as the “world’s most dangerous place” and a “flashpoint” for nuclear conflict in South Asia. Kashmir is nowadays quieter but it is by no means settled. India and Pakistan remain at loggerheads on the issue; youth discontent with Indian policies is rife while militant groups continue to see it as a liberation project. Kashmir is unlikely to fade away as some other conflicts have – and will remain central to security in South Asia.
The proposed lecture will shed light at internal and external dynamics that have shaped the conflict over the last 15 years. Based on several visits to Kashmir and interviews with interlocutors, it will delve into key developments and factors that have shaped Kashmir’s politics in recent years. The lecture, due in early 2015, will follow both the drawdown in Afghanistan and state elections in Jammu and Kashmir. It will speculate on linkages between the conflicts, if any; and reflect on the new Indian government’s policies in Kashmir and more widely on India-Pakistan relations.