An early dividend of Narendra Modi’s election as India’s prime minister appeared on May 26, when Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited New Delhi for the inauguration. In his winning election campaign last year, Sharif had declared, “If India takes one step for good relations, Pakistan will take two. We even want to put an end to visa requirements between the two countries...We want peace with India.” Now the two South Asian leaders are mutually pledged to resume a peace process that Sharif and then-Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had begun in 1999.
However, the hoped-for peace process could turn to war—with huge implications for the United States—if militant actors in Pakistan attack India in hopes of provoking Modi to overreact. Something like this happened in 1999. Then, Pervez Musharraf and several colleagues in the Pakistan Army launched a clandestine incursion into the Kargil region of Kashmir, which triggered a limited, hard-fought war that India won, with diplomatic assistance from Bill Clinton. Today, the likely instigators would be the Pakistani Taliban or other militant groups who wish to divert the Pakistani state from cracking down on them.
By George Perkovich VICE PRESIDENT FOR STUDIES