November 30, 2022
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Kashmir is U.S. foreign policy blind spot

Once again, the United States has decided to get involved in another country’s international affairs. This time, it almost seems necessary.

In 70 years, India and Pakistan have gone to war three different times over the state of Kashmir, a territory in northern India that is currently under the joint control of both countries. Kashmir has about 12 million people, 95 percent of whom are Muslim.

When the modern state of Pakistan was created in 1947, Kashmir was up for grabs. Pakistan wanted to integrate the mostly Muslim state into what would become a safe space for Islam, but the British had another plan. The British were interested in the fact that the territory was a traveled trade route, so they decided the state would be part of India, reaping the benefits and leaving India and Pakistan to have a turbulent relationship for almost a century.

On Sept. 18, there was a terrorist attack in the Indian-administered state of Kashmir, and 18 Indian soldiers died. India is pointing fingers at Pakistan. Pakistan is denying participating in the attack. The attack has created instability in the region, adding to the already hostile relationship between Pakistan and India, which has resulted in over 100 civilian casualties since the attack.

The once beautiful valley has now become the site of a bloodbath.

What does the U.S. have to do with all this? According to The Times of India, the Obama Administration decided to back India in the brewing conflict on Sept. 28. Ironically, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked Secretary of State John Kerry to mediate the issue — not take sides — a few weeks back. The intervention of a third party in the Kashmir conflict seems necessary, but the United States’ reputation in the Middle East and Asia as a whole may lead to skepticism on why the U.S. is there in the first place.

It might be the first time the U.S. intervention appears to be unselfish, but the geopolitical climate of the area and the fact that both countries have access to nuclear weapons suggests that there might be more than meets the eye.

If Pakistan and India were to go to war again, this would be handled by our next president. None of our current candidates have policies that address South Asian politics or relations. Another war in the region could lead to an even more unstable relationship between the West, the Muslim world and Southeast Asia, which is honestly the last thing anyone needs.