Instead of looking to deescalate the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), the Indian state looks set to double down on its policy of violence against innocent civilians by increasing troop deployment in the restive region. The uptick in violence from the Indian side on the Line of Control (LoC), sending more troops to Kashmir, and the general hawkish reaction of the Modi government to the people of Kashmir tells us that something deeper is afoot; India has always treater the Kashmiri people horribly, but the recent callousness belies a more problematic approach to the Kashmir question.

Experts and the general populace of the area are worried that the BJP government might look to make good on the promise of repealing Articles 35-A and 370 in the Indian Constitution, which would remove the autonomous status of the region and allow for Israeli-style settlements in IOK to change the demographics of the region. This would explain Indian hostility and indifference towards the lives and safety of the Kashmiri people, and the rancour directed at Pakistan; if the Modi-government has decided on looking to forcefully integrate IOK into its own territory, it knows that relations with Pakistan could take a turn for the worse and hence reciprocating any overtures by the Pakistani side will be meaningless.

India should remember that the situation in Israel was very different – South Asia has two rivalling nuclear powers with the armed forces of Pakistan ready to defend their people and the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people. Any aggression from the eastern side will be met in kind; the most recent skirmish between the two countries is indicative of Pakistan’s willingness and ability to defend itself.

The armed forces of Pakistan are prepared as always, but should be ready to meet any increased hostility in kind. Our defence capabilities have not been used to initiate aggression, but this should not be seen as a weakness; indeed, the desire for peace is what strengthens Pakistan’s narrative in the face of an openly aggressive neighbour.

This stance of reacting to violence instead of initiating it, should be explained at diplomatic forums, alongside the urgent need for the international community to step in and avert this crisis; India must not be allowed to subvert the rights of an indigenous people by looking to replace them with those from mainland areas. Hostility against a peaceful neighbouring country is another infraction that must be raised at all diplomatic channels. Protecting one of the most beautiful regions in the world and its people must be prioritised, or else the world might soon see more bloodshed in an already tumultuous area.