Pakistan Accuses India of Trying to Turn Kashmir into Muslim Minority Region

Nawaz Sharif
AP Photo/B.K. Bangash

India is trying to convert the New Delhi-controlled portion of the disputed Kashmir region into a Muslim-minority area, Pakistani officials alleged this week.

China, its ally Pakistan, and their regional rival India all have competing claims to the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Although China has long been an ally of Pakistan, Beijing tends to stand in the shadows of ongoing disputes between New Delhi and Islamabad over Kashmir, which have turned deadly in recent months.

While India accuses Pakistan of backing jihadist organizations in Kashmir, Islamabad blames New Delhi for human rights violations against dissenters, namely separatists fighting for independence from India or in favor of a merger with Pakistan.

Both Pakistan and India deny the charges.

“Condemning Indian atrocities in India-held Kashmir, the Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday alleged that India was trying to convert the region into a Muslim minority region,” reports Pakistan’s Dawn.

“Indian forces are committing crimes against humanity which have resulted in the deaths of 15 innocent people in the past week,” said FO spokesperson Nafees Zakaria last week.

India and Pakistan have repeatedly accused one another of violating the 2003 Kashmir ceasefire.

Despite the ongoing chaos in Kashmir, the United Nations has refused to take action.

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda are reportedly expanding their operations in Kashmir, capitalizing on the deteriorating security situation.

Echoing other assessments, the Indian newspaper Mint recently suggested that ISIS and al-Qaeda are likely working together in Kashmir.

“Al-Qaeda lost all ground after Osama bin Laden was killed. So the group has almost been razed to the ground. Any operations they now conduct in Kashmir or elsewhere will be in conjunction with the Islamic State. While the groups have been trying to get a foothold for a while now, we need to keep a hawk’s eye on any change of trend in warfare in the valley,” an Indian intelligence officer told Mint on condition of anonymity.

Indian authorities have long warned against the growing ISIS presence in Kashmir, noting that the area can provide manpower.

“The appointment of Zakir Musa as head of the new group represents the first time militants linked to al-Qaida have operated openly in Kashmir, site of a decades-long separatist insurgency and the only Muslim-majority region under Indian control,” recently reported the Guardian.

Besides the allegations of cooperation in Kashmir, ISIS has reportedly collaborated with the Afghan Taliban, a well known al-Qaeda ally.