In late 2001, parts of the population in Indian Cashmere echoed pro-Al-Qaeda sympathies, as I witnessed during my stay in Srinagar. The capital of the Indian administrated part of Cashmere seemed to reach a new turning point as the Taliban were driven out of Afghanistan. Then as now, big swaths of the population feel equally stuck between Indian government forces and armed freedom fighters infiltrating from and supported by the Pakistani side. The daily toll on the civilian population is high with fighting and civil protest erupting at regular intervals.
Though the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi has recently extended an invitation to separatist leaders from the disputed region to restart a peace dialogue between the nuclear-armed nations, an end to the conflict is not in sight, with Delhi and Islamabad staring mistrustfully at each other. Daily security checks and trade operating at the speed of a war economy are further obstacles to a new tomorrow.