In remarks put forth by a UK Parliamentarian on the floor of the House of Commons, the Indian region of Jammu and Kashmir hangs in the balance now that the Taliban has control of Afghanistan.
Since the mid-twentieth century, India, Pakistan, and China have vied for control of this disputed Himalayan region of India, rendering it among the most militarized places in the world. Last year’s clashes with troops who crossed from the Chinese side of the border into India here were heavily publicized and continue to cause tension as China’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson attempts to fault India for China’s aggressive incursion.
In the face of continued tension, according to Bob Blackman, a Conservative who spoke recently on the floor of the House of Commons, “It is only the Indian Army and the sound footing of the Indian military democracy that has stopped the region of Jammu and Kashmir from resembling Taliban-occupied Afghanistan.”
Jammu and Kashmir is the name of one amalgamated area, and it borders the narrow connection of Afghanistan with China. It is also solidly between Pakistan to the west and China to the east. In February of 2021, the Biden administration State Department stated that there had been no policy change on the recognition of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. This was following a tweet from the State Department referring to the territory as “India’s Jammu & Kashmir.” This particular Himalayan region appears on most world maps as belonging to India.
MP Blackman, who was concerned about human rights in the region, added, “Islamist forces will eliminate democracy in Jammu and Kashmir as we saw in Afghanistan if Indian troops are withdrawn.” The allusion was to the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the subsequent collapse of Afghanistan into the hands of the Taliban. Blackman’s concerns about troop withdrawal may have been related to the ongoing dispute, which pits Pakistan-affiliated MP’s — who often call for the end of the Indian military’s presence in the region — against MP’s whose position is often considered to be more moderate.
According to The Australia Today, a battle of words then ensued on the floor of the UK Parliament when pro-Pakistan MP Imran Hussain called for a global outcry over what he referred to as the Indian military’s “occupation” of Kashmir. The Australia Today reports that “Claims were destroyed by Imran Hussain’s fellow Labour MP Barry Gardiner. He even pointed out the terrorist camps that have been nurtured by Pakistan to destabilize the Kashmir region.”
Some fear that these camps will now shift to Afghanistan. According to Long War Journal, a site that chronicles the ongoing War on Terror, “The leader of a terrorist alliance that operates in Kashmir and includes groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed said the Pakistani military allows it to operate freely and run hundreds of training camps.” According to a U.S. government report, the existence of some of these terrorist alliances, including India-facing terrorists, are confirmed to be within Pakistan, which did take mild steps against a few of these groups in 2019.