The conflict between Pakistan and India is often overlooked — like many conflicts that have been going on for decades, it’s easy to slip out of the limelight when it sounds like the same news is getting reported over and over. However, the Pakistan-India tensions have had some serious fallout: they have had massive tank battles the likes of which hadn’t been seen since WWII, suffered devastating losses on both land and sea, and have had the highest number of POWs taken since WWII in one war up until that point. They have edged closer to nuclear war than most nuclear powers out there.

Kashmir is a disputed area to the north, but both countries definitively control their sides of the “border.” The de facto border between the two is known as the “line of control,” and it runs through Jammu and Kashmir, a line that is over over 2000 miles long, cutting through the massive Himalayan mountains.

A brief history of the conflict:

After the close of WWII, India and Pakistan both gained independence from the British. The idea was to have a Muslim state entirely separate from India, though it wasn’t an easy split since the Muslim population was not so clearly defined geographically — what was supposed to be a clear and easy division was anything but. Lines were drawn and borders were built, but Kashmir remained a disputed territory, and both countries claimed it as its own. The local leadership chose India, but there was a majority Muslim population that wanted to be a part of Pakistan (to put it simply).

Since then, multiple wars have broken out over the ownership of Kashmir. Significant wars have erupted in 1947, 1965, and 1999. Countless incidents of smaller battles have occurred outside actual wars, that always threaten to boil up and over into yet another major conflict.

In 1998, India successfully tested their nuclear warheads delivered from the air; later that year, Pakistan did the same, and the stakes have continued to rise ever since. The Kargil War — which claimed the lives of hundreds of soldiers on both sides and thousands of wounded in two months — particularly caught the eyes of the world because of both countries’ nuclear capabilities.

This does not include the war in 1971, which was between Pakistan and India and resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. While it was not a product of the disputed territory of Kashmir, it is yet another indicator of the complex and tumultuous relationship between the two countries.

The two countries have sustained a cease fire since 2003, though tension remains high and accusations of one country breaking the agreement are common. For example, Indian news outlets have reported a violation as recently as late December, 2017. Long fence-lines in tangent with mine fields line the Indian side, garnering much criticism from the Pakistanis. Bill Clinton once referred to this line of control as the most dangerous place on earth.

Author’s insight:

I lived in Pakistan for nine years as a child, and five of those were spent in Kashmir in the town of Gilgit, just west of the Line of Control. We lived nestled in the enormous mountains, next to the raging Gilgit River in the late 90s until I left for boarding school in Murree, Pakistan in 2001.