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The Srinagar-Leh highway that connects Kashmir with the Indian region of Ladakh. The average snow buildup in the rocky territory normally stays in the level of 15 to 25 meters. Closed for a half of each year, the highway usually opens up in late spring and travelers on the pass have to deal with snowstorms, fierce air currents, and dangerous circumstances.
Jammu and Kashmir was a former princely state where a large number of people were killed and others were driven away by the violence during the partition. Since then, India and Pakistan have fought multiple wars over the region — both countries claim the region in full but control only parts of it. Many have raised concerns over violence and human rights abuses in both India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, as well as in Pakistan-controlled Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan region.
Speaking about India-controlled Kashmir, Munter said: “You have a mainly Muslim population and you have many hundreds of thousands of Indian troops keeping order. That’s really not a sustainable or good situation.”
“It’s not something that Indians want other people to interfere with but until that gets solved, there’s going to be a problem in Kashmir,” he added.
In a recent op-ed piece with Indian newspaper Business Standard, former Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran said that after the Feb. 14 terror attack, India must examine why so many locals get recruited by terrorist groups operating in the area.
“There have been allegations of intelligence failure but the ability to stop terrorist incidents and apprehending terrorists is most effective if the local populace is ready to provide intelligence that is relatively specific,” Saran wrote. “This is possible only if there is a high level of trust and confidence between the populace and the security forces.”
Pakistan’s problem, according to Munter, is that no one believes they’ve cracked down on the groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba — which carried out one of the worst terrorist attacks in India’s history — or the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which operate in that region. India has long accused Pakistan of supporting those groups.
“Until the Pakistanis are credible in cracking down on these groups, they’re going to have a problem. Because it’s not every day that America and Iran, for example, stand shoulder-to-shoulder, criticizing the Pakistanis for not cracking down on terrorist groups,” the former envoy said.
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