Militancy in the disputed region of Kashmir has been major fuel for discord between India and Pakistan since the 1980s. Attacks in the region began to increase in scale and intensity following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when foreign insurgents flooded the region to join the Afghan Mujahadeen. The majority Muslim region has its own local militant groups, but experts believe most of the recent Kashmir and Kashmir-based terrorism has been the work of foreign Islamists who seek to claim the region for Pakistan. A spate of Islamist cross-border attacks into Indian-held territory, the December 2001 storming of the Indian parliament in New Delhi, and the 2008 Mumbai attacks have all reinforced Kashmir's standing as the significant bone of contention between India and Pakistan. Both states have nuclear weapons, making Kashmir one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints.
Origins of the Conflict
Kashmir has been a constant source of tension since 1947, when the British partitioned their imperial holdings in South Asia into two new states, India and Pakistan. For Pakistan, incorporating the majority Muslim province of Kashmir is a basic national aspiration bound up in its identity as an Islamic state. Islamabad's official line on Kashmir, which the United States echoed as recently as June 2009, is that incorporation into either India or Pakistan must be determined by Kashmiris. Meanwhile, India sees the province as vital to its identity as a secular, multiethnic state. Movements for an independent Kashmiri state, such as the Kashmir Freedom Movement and the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, also exist and have many supporters.India now holds about two-thirds of the disputed territory, which it calls Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan controls about one-third, which it calls Azad (meaning "free") Kashmir. China also controls two small sections of northern Kashmir. India...