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BJP, PM Modi elected back to power after May 23 vote count; no imminent threat to political stability – India Analysis

Executive Summary

The National Democratic Alliance returned to power for a second consecutive term after the Bharatiya Janata Party secured the single-party majority.

The conflicting opposition strategies on political alliances appear to have weakened the challenge posed to the BJP-led NDA.

The largely personality-driven political campaigning by the ruling alliance also appears to have played a significant role in shaping voting patterns.

The election results are reflective of a consolidation of the national mandate when compared to the 2014 elections, and is unlikely to result in a significant, negative shift as far as the business and security environments are concerned in the immediate term.

Travel to Delhi and other major Indian cities can continue, while travelers are advised to maintain vigilance for security risks associated with frequent, large demonstrations as well as potential militant threats targeting government buildings, security installations, large crowded public places, or religious sites.

Current Situation

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was voted back into power for a second consecutive five-year term following the announcement of the 2019 general assembly elections held across 543 constituencies across 29 states. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), the BJP won 303 seats while the NDA secured a total of 353 seats.

The NDA won all seats it contested in the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, while also securing the majority of seats in Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. The BJP also secured a landslide win in the southern state of Karnataka where it secured 25 out of a total of 28 seats. The center-ruling party also made considerable inroads into West Bengal and Odisha, while nevertheless ending up in second place in both states.

The Mahagathbandhan (MGB), or Grand Alliance, formed by the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), failed to defeat the BJP in the electorally significant state of Uttar Pradesh. The BJP appears to have won in 62 constituencies out of a total of 80 in the state.

The Indian National Congress (INC)-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won a total of 90 seats.

Assessments

Conflicting opposition strategies on political alliances weakened challenge to BJP-led NDA

As previously assessed, the BJP victory was a result of a lack of cohesion among the opposition parties, thus splitting anti-government votes in key states. The INC’s failure to unequivocally take on the leadership of an opposition front, such as the Mahagathbandhan, was due to prevailing considerations within the party leadership that it could capitalize on short-term anti-BJP sentiment to take the elections on its own merit. However, the final results indicate that the INC-led UPA has only gained 24 seats in comparison with 2014, which is a less-than-expected tally. Further, it continued to work with traditional regional allies, many of whom did not necessarily have adequate momentum going into these elections.

This is in contrast with the BJP – the party retained key allies in states where disaffection against them was building, such as in Maharashtra, where it restored ties with the Shiv Sena. Similar overtures were made to parties such as the Janata Dal-United (JDU), and coordination of strategy in terms of candidate allocation and seat sharing was also observed. On the other hand, the party retained strategic allies in states where it has not been conventionally strong. This includes the northeastern states, where the BJP-led Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA) weathered unrest over the Citizenship Amendment Bill to lead in states like Assam.

Policy issues overtaken by personality-driven campaigns, focus placed on national narratives

Despite the initial traction that policy issues such as demonetization, unemployment, and security gained during the pre-election discourse, the focus of campaigns by both the ruling and opposition sides have been personality-driven. This is not necessarily a novel concept, given that regional politics has long been dominated by strong figures, around whom campaigns are structured. However, the BJP’s utilization of this strategy at the national level, combining social media and targeted campaigns with demographics-rooted nuance, is highly notable and builds on early versions of such an approach from 2014. Given the large numbers of first-time voters, pegged at close to 15 million in the 18-19 age group, the use of candidates with targeted appeal and closely-managed social media campaigns likely factored in voting trends. In many cases, the families of career-politicians were passed over in favor of newer candidates. This was witnessed in Bangalore, where 28-year-old Tejaswi Surya was chosen instead of five-time MP Ananth Kumar’s wife, while actor Sunny Deol was favored over the wife of actor Rajesh Khanna.

Another notable trend that has strengthened since 2014 is the distinction that the electorate had made between national politics and state parties with regard to policy. While the BJP was voted out in legislative elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh in late 2018, the party won with a resounding margin in these states during the current parliamentary elections. Voters increasingly isolated factors such as unemployment and agrarian discontent to the perceived incompetence of state BJP governments, while preferring that the party nevertheless hold power at the center. Public sentiment surrounding PM Modi’s administration in these states appears to have concluded that poorly performing BJP state governments did not detract from the ruling party’s broader intent.

Platforms such as national security, which have emerged as a key factor since the Pulwama attack and skirmishes with Pakistan in February, have likely buttressed this trend. Further, opposition parties including the INC were positioned to the electorate as primarily anti-incumbent, but not necessarily presenting a clear policy platform of their own. INC tactics focussed on recent scandals such as the Rafale deal were seen as an extension of this campaign orientation. In contrast, INC policy platforms such as the Nyunatam Aay Yojana (Nyay) scheme, a minimum income guarantee scheme, were late inclusions in the campaigns and thus, did not pay significant electoral dividends.

Immediate-term impact on business interests, security to remain unchanged

In the immediate term, a BJP-led NDA victory will be seen as a generally positive development, given the government’s overall perceived business-friendly image.  This has been indicated by the recent rallying of stock market indices in the weeks prior to the elections, as exit polls indicated a BJP win. The rally was marked by notable but short-term gains on May 23, and the subsequent drops may be reflective of long-term structural economic concerns. However, the continuity associated with the BJP’s win will be seen as providing greater levels of stability in the immediate term. Coordination between the central and state governments, especially in the states where the BJP has significant political sway or a party-led government, can be expected on policy issues. Finally, the BJP’s majority position in the Lok Sabha will also reduce its reliance on coalition partners, granting greater stability to the incoming national government. Overall, the NDA’s return to power is unlikely to result in a significant, negative shift as far as the immediate business and security environment is concerned at the national level.

FORECAST: An examination of the overall vote share of the BJP shows a rise since 2014, as the party is pegged to gain close to 40 percent of the total vote share alone, as opposed to the 31 percent share in 2014. This may be indicative of a more consolidated national mandate when compared to the last elections. However, as witnessed after the 2014 elections, continued polarization within the electorate is liable to manifest in localized socio-political and religious tensions, especially between the BJP and minority communities. Caste and inter-religious conflict may see a rise over the long term, based on the extent to which right-wing groups affiliated with the BJP are emboldened post elections. However, these conflicts will largely be localized, and are not expected to destabilize security at the broader national level. States where the BJP has seen increased vote share gains, such as West Bengal and some constituencies of Kerala, will be particular flashpoints of conflict. The party will seek to displace volatile INC-led state coalition governments, such as in Karnataka. In the immediate term, the BJP win is liable to have an impact on local disaffection in Kashmir, ahead of state elections in Jammu and Kashmir. There is a potential for an increase in militancy and separatist unrest, in reaction to the key gains the BJP made in the state during the general elections.

Recommendations

Travel to Delhi and other major Indian cities can continue, while travelers are advised to maintain vigilance for security risks associated with frequent, large demonstrations as well as potential militant threats targeting government buildings, security installations, large crowded public places, or religious sites.

Those operating or residing in India are advised to maintain general vigilance due to the risk of localized and isolated incidents of unrest in the aftermath of the election results.

Avoid discussing controversial issues regarding the elections with unfamiliar individuals, especially topics related to caste or religion due to the risk of eliciting confrontational behavior.

Avoid the vicinity of party offices and celebratory rallies due to the latent risk of violence. Allot for temporary disruptions to travel during these rallies, especially in major cities.

Remain cognizant of local laws and post-electoral sensitivities especially when posting on social media, due to the risk of legal action or state prosecution as a response to controversial content.

Increase in jihadist messaging reflects competition between IS, AQIS; immediate operational focus likely to be in Kashmir – India Analysis

Current Situation

Increase in jihadist messaging reflects competition between IS, AQIS; immediate operational focus likely to be in Kashmir - India Analysis | MAX Security

Increase in jihadist messaging reflects competition between IS, AQIS; immediate operational focus likely to be in Kashmir - India Analysis | MAX Security

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Between November 22 and December 13, Islamic State (IS) released a series of online messages calling for attacks in India and indicating that the group was soon to develop a presence in the country. Similarly, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) released anti-India messages and videos during the period, making references to alleged right-wing Hindu violence perpetrated by the state towards its Muslim population.

The messages follow a claim by IS on November 18 for an attack in Srinagar, Kashmir, where one police officer was killed. On November 14, an audio clip purportedly from an Islamic State (IS) operative from Kerala State was circulated online via social media. Police have reportedly identified the speaker as Rashid Abdullah, the leader of a Kerala-based IS cell who is reportedly now in Afghanistan with Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP). Abdullah calls for truck, knife, and poison attacks against Hindus at major public religious festivals such as the Kumbh Mela and the Thrissur Pooram.

In recent months, AQI  has increased the frequency of its propaganda messages directed towards India. In July, the group additionally received a pledge of support from Ansar Ghazwatul Hind (AGH), a Kashmiri militant group that broke away from the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM).

Increase in jihadist messaging reflects competition between IS, AQIS; immediate operational focus likely to be in Kashmir - India Analysis | MAX Security

Motivations

The recent trend of increasing messaging by transnational groups IS and AQIS targeting India appears to be driven by an underlying competition between the groups to expand their spheres of influence in the country. Since its formation in 2014, AQIS has been dormant operationally in India, largely due to the movement of most of the group’s operatives towards the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, where they have embedded themselves with local militant groups fighting those respective governments. This revival of propaganda activity directed towards India was likely triggered by the pledge of the Kashmiri militant offshoot, AGH, to the group in July. Islamist militancy in Kashmir state has traditionally been non-aligned with global jihadist groups, and its primary intention has been the pursuit of a political, separatist agenda instead of an overtly religious motivation. Given this historic trend, AGH’s pledge of allegiance is a notable departure. It would appear the growing friction over leadership struggles within the local militant group HM has likely resulted in factions such as the AGH attempting to set up their own interests. To this end, their pledge to AQIS was likely in order to gain credibility for itself during its formative months specifically through association with a major jihadist organization.

Meanwhile, IS interest in the Kashmir conflict, from which it has previously stayed away, is likely based on the growing online interest in the group’s banner in the state. Youth in Kashmir appear increasingly disaffected with traditional militant groups such as HM. This sentiment likely extends towards groups that operate across the India-Pakistan border as well, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), who they maintain are driven by political interests and do not represent the true Islamic character of their movement. Specifically, the reported images of the perpetrator with IS insignia prior to the attack likely resulted in their claim of the November attack in Srinagar. The details of the claim were faulty, stating that a Pakistani and not an Indian officer was killed; this throws into question the degree of contact between the perpetrator and IS leadership prior to the attack. However, it is nevertheless reflective of the group’s interests in reaching out to sympathetic locals and existing militant groups in Kashmir.  This interest appears to be growing as IS takes increasing losses in Syria and Iraq, and consequently pivots to newer territories.

Apart from Kashmir, a degree of support for IS also appears to be developing across the country, as witnessed in the recent arrests, primarily in states with notable Hindu-Muslim community tensions. For instance, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh states, where a majority of the arrested suspects were originally from, have witnessed a notable increase in conflicts between Hindu and Muslim communities and political groups. This has especially been the case since the growing presence of the perceived right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in these states and its association with pro-Hindu organizations.

Increase in jihadist messaging reflects competition between IS, AQIS; immediate operational focus likely to be in Kashmir - India Analysis | MAX Security

Capabilities

At the present time, we assess that the operational capabilities of both IS and AQIS across India’s major cities and central areas remain low. Despite sympathies for IS, local cells have failed to actualize any major attacks across the country, due to their inability to reduce their exposure to security force investigations. While local cells in recent times have previously attempted to build explosives or plan attacks, they have been unsuccessful due to raids and arrests that have foiled their plots. It is worth noting that these cells located until now have largely been isolated from each other and there is no evidence of a coordinated leadership hierarchy to guide recruitment and plot development. These solitary efforts are a likely cause for the inconsistencies in the abilities of these cells, and the overall lack of actionable capabilities. In addition, more established local militant groups such as the Indian Mujahideen, which may have been able to assist these efforts, have largely been neutralized in recent years through targeted operations and the arrests of their leaders. That said, the latent potential for less-sophisticated lone-wolf attacks remain, given the low operational threshold required to plan and carry out these attacks.

In Kashmir however, capabilities for transnational jihadist groups remain more potent. This is due to the established presence of militant groups, and the consequent access to weapons and explosives. To this end, AQIS appears to have an advantage over IS, given its established relationship with an on-ground proxy AGH, which is known to have trained operatives capable of staging ambushes on security force convoys and military camps. IS, on the other hand, has only been loosely linked to the November attack, and their connection to local militant groups remains underdeveloped at the present time.

Increase in jihadist messaging reflects competition between IS, AQIS; immediate operational focus likely to be in Kashmir - India Analysis | MAX Security

 Probabilities

In the immediate term, we assess that both IS and AQIS are likely to continue their push to increase spheres of influence in India. Their primary focus is likely to be Kashmir, given the marked escalation of civil unrest since 2016 over the continued military presence and the opportunities this presents for recruitment. Meanwhile, both groups will likely seek to capitalize on the increasing factionalism within established local militant groups such as HM and draw disaffected factions towards their banner. AQIS is likely to attempt this through their local affiliate AGH, whose leader Zakir Musa remains popular among locals in southern Kashmir. Meanwhile, IS interests are likely to be coordinated by their affiliate in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, IS Khorasan Province (ISKP). The group may seek to replicate their model of engagement in Pakistan, which has involved carrying out attacks through local low-level militant groups and claiming them as IS attacks, without any formal pledges of allegiance from their proxies.

For the rest of the country, both groups’ prospects will likely remain lower in the immediate term, given that the Indian military has largely sequestered the Kashmir conflict away from the country’s center. However, recent messages have called for Kashmiri militants to attack Delhi, indicating strong intent to expand beyond the state. Such attempts, while rare, are not unprecedented and security forces will likely remain vigilant for this threat.

Instead, in the country’s major cities and central regions, the more immediate threat stems from potential lone-wolf militancy. There remains a palpable intent among certain radicalized sections of the Muslim community, and sympathizers may increasingly take inspiration from IS’s recent calls for lone wolf attacks in places like Europe and North America. In addition, local cells may also increasingly orient their operations towards these forms of attacks should more sophisticated modus operandi continue to yield limited results. This would likely place Hindu religious targets, such as festivals and temples at a specific risk. Attacks against other targets such as synagogues and Western diplomatic or business interests also remain a possibility, given that local radicalized individuals are equally engaged with global jihadist propaganda, which advocates attacking these targets.

Increase in jihadist messaging reflects competition between IS, AQIS; immediate operational focus likely to be in Kashmir - India Analysis | MAX Security

Recommendations

Travel to Delhi and other major Indian cities can continue, while travelers are advised to maintain vigilance for security risks associated with frequent, large demonstrations as well as potential militant threats targeting government buildings, security installations, large crowded public places, or religious sites.

We advise against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir State, with the exception of Jammu and Srinagar cities.  Any overland travel west or south of Srinagar, towards areas such as Tral, Baramulla, Sopore, Shopian, and Anantnag is advised against.

Given the continued militant threat in India, maintain heightened vigilance for suspicious individuals and unattended baggage, particularly in public places including major hotels, government installations, transport hubs, markets, restaurants, entertainment venues, and places of worship.

MAX Analysis India & Pakistan: Cross-border hostilities likely to continue as Islamabad seeks to intensify Kashmir debate January 23, 2015

Executive Summary

  • Clashes on the border between India and Pakistan have escalated again since December, leaving around a dozen dead and tens of thousands displaced.
  • Pakistan is likely seeking to increase pressure on India to renew negotiations over Kashmir through a controlled escalation.
  • Despite both side’s efforts to ensure relatively localized hostilities, risk of more widespread border conflict remains.
  • We advise against all nonessential travel to Pakistan given the ongoing threat of militancy, kidnappings and sectarian tensions throughout the country. We advise against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir state, with the exception of Jammu and Srinagar cities.

Current Situation
On January 13, in a joint conference with Sartaj Aziz, adviser to Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif on national security and foreign affairs, visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry asked Pakistan to work with India to resume peace talks. However, Aziz ruled out any dialogue with India if the disputed Kashmir region was not part of negotiations. Kerry made the comments after holding talks in India, where President Obama will visit later this month. The Pakistani stance comes as tensions have escalated considerably between India and Pakistan since the last quarter of 2014. The said tensions have been most clearly evident with the surge in violence on the border between Indian and Pakistani troops in parts of the disputed regions of Jammu and Kashmir. Both sides have accused the other of being behind the escalation. Since December, around a dozen fatalities on both sides have been recorded. The most serious incident came on December 31, when five soldiers on both sides were killed.  Much of the recent fighting has been focused to the International Border between India and Pakistan, on the southern flank of Jammu and Kashmir. The International Border is a relatively smaller border portion in the overall disputed Jammu and Kashmir region. Both sides say hundreds of ceasefire violations were recorded in 2014, with unconfirmed reports indicating that the year saw the most border incidents since the current ceasefire came into being in 2003.

  • In that context, in late December, India’s defense minister instructed commanders stationed along the border with Pakistan to intensify retaliations against Pakistani fire.
  • As a result of cross-border fire, which occasionally lasts for hours on end, Indian officials in New Delhi have reportedly asked local authorities in Jammu and Kashmir to construct fortified bunkers for local populations.  Over ten thousand Indian civilians have fled their communities along the border with Pakistan as a result of cross-border fire, which has mostly involved mortar and small-arms fire. Pakistani reports have also alleged Indian fire into Pakistani civilian areas.
  • Furthermore, the latest tensions come on the heels of ongoing negotiations to form a government in Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir. India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) campaigned heavily for the region’s state assembly elections. After performing reasonably well, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP are now trying to form a government. Turnout was deemed a success for the BJP, especially given calls by pro-Pakistani  separatists in Jammu and Kashmir to boycott the elections.
  • Meanwhile, and in conjunction with cross-border hostilities, the threat of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, and inside major Indian cities, persists. During the morning hours of January 14, two Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants reportedly encountered Indian security forces in the Chankhan area of Sopore, 40 kilometers northeast of Srinagar, in Jammu and Kashmir. Reports suggested that LeT commander Abu Huzaifa, was one of the two militants.
  • On January 15, reports indicated that Indian military officials believe approximately 200 Pakistan-based militants may attempt to infiltrate in order to attack what the government referred to as “soft targets,” including schools, civilian areas, and religious places. The Indian Army believes the militants are poised at 36 launch points throughout the Pakistani controlled area across the Line of Control (LoC) in the Pir Panjal range. Meanwhile, five militants were killed by Indian security forces in Gader in Shopian, Jammu and Kashmir on January 15. The five were reportedly affiliated with the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen. Indian forces conducted a search of the forested area after intelligence reports indicated militants had entered the region. Unconfirmed reports suggest the Division Commander of (JeM), Mohammad Toyib, was among the militants killed.

Assessments: Internal Pakistani strategic considerations driving volatility in Jammu and Kashmir; Obama’s visit provides opportunity for Islamabad to press territorial claims

  • Tensions between India and Pakistan are longstanding and this has necessitated a highly militarized border between both countries. At present, the conflict between India and Pakistan is highlighted chiefly by continuous allegations that both sides are using militancy to undermine the others’ security, along with border clashes in Jammu and Kashmir. We assess that both issues are linked. On top of their historic rivalry, we assess that there are several  new factors that have further undermined bilateral relations between the two nuclear armed states and exacerbated instability along their shared borders.
  • First and foremost, Pakistan is highly volatile and under a heightened state of alert for militant attacks. Attacks occur daily, throughout the country, including in major cities. Warnings of militant attacks have also escalated following the December 16 high-casualty attack in Peshawar. As a result, Pakistan has intensified its counter militancy operations nationwide, especially in the northwest tribal regions. Pakistan claims it has killed over a thousand militants from its now intensified operations in the northwest, named Khyber 1 and Zarb-e-Azb. Pakistan may be aiming to balance its military activity, given the relative controversy of targeting militant Islamists within traditional Islamic Pakistani society, while hostility to India remains a popular policy domestically. Therefore, internal Pakistani concerns regarding the prestige of the military following the launch of campaigns targeting Islamist militants could be bolstering an interest to escalate tensions with India.
  • Strategically speaking, Pakistan is also likely concerned over the continued American so-called pivot to East Asia. As a major strategic ally of America, Pakistan is likely concerned that the pivot, along with the end of American military operations in Afghanistan, could leave it increasingly isolated, thus forcing it to become more reliant upon American rivals like China and Russia for various kinds of support. Conversely, it is also likely that Pakistan is wary of growing ties between India and the US, highlighted by Obama’s upcoming visit. This could necessitate Pakistan to take steps in order to ensure its interests are secured.
  • As tensions with India have been a major focus of John Kerry’s visit to the region, it is possible that Pakistan aims to cite the increasing tensions with India to place the US as a mediator between the two sides. Additionally, Pakistan is likely to cite India’s growing military and economic prowess, along with the threat from internal Pakistani militants, when requesting further American assistance.
  • We also assess that Pakistan likely has an interest to reinvigorate the Jammu and Kashmir debate, especially on the global stage. Islamabad is likely concerned that the regions will eventually be perceived as de-facto Indian or a non-conflict. As Pakistan ultimately aims to reclaim these areas, this may warrant hostilities in order to showcase Pakistan’s claim. Targeting the International Border could also be a Pakistani attempt to show that all of Jammu and Kashmir is under dispute, not just certain border markings. The lack of international concern resulting from India’s elections in the disputed regions only likely enhanced Islamabad’s views on this matter. Those elections were widely perceived by Indians as a referendum on Indian rule in the disputed regions.
  • Despite the tensions with India, we assess that national security and foreign affairs advisor Aziz’s statement indicates a possible Pakistani interest in renewing talks with India over Kashmir. Direct military pressure could be a method to achieve this goal, especially as President Obama could use his visit to urge India to engage in fresh negotiations with Islamabad. PM Modi of India, however, is a Hindu nationalist and likely wary of entering negotiations meant to retake territory under Indian control. The elections in Jammu and Kashmir likely served to further cement his hesitation towards negotiations over these disputed regions. Also, Modi is likely cognizant of the strategic ramifications of bending to Pakistani demands at a time of rising concerns of future tensions with China. Both China and India have active border disputes in Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, which led to a brief war in 1962. Furthermore, the recent cases of Pakistani mortar shelling of Indian border villages, as opposed to fighting positions, may have been an effort to exert further pressure on the Indian government to ultimately force it to the negotiating table.

Assessments: Both sides taking efforts to control escalation, indicating lower potential for sustained high-intensity conflict

  • In that context, the Indian threat of severe retaliation was likely meant to deter Pakistan from taking more aggressive steps that could force India into another border war. The current BJP government is likely keen to avoid an escalation at this time, as this could complicate the establishment of a new government in Jammu and Kashmir, and counter an overall national security strategy to reach strategic parity with China. As mentioned above, Pakistan may be hoping that PM Modi will choose negotiations to ease the fighting in Kashmir.
  • If negotiations are the goal, Pakistan is likely of the impression that a certain and calculated level of force is required to achieve this. This assessment is bolstered in that much of the recent fighting has taken place along the southern border of Jammu and Kashmir, which is manned mostly by the Indian Border Security Force. Their positions are less fortified when compared to the regular and better-armed Indian army troops positioned in the rugged mountains of northwest Kashmir. Moreover, tactical analysis from recent clashes points to efforts by both sides to control the level of escalation. They have refrained from using airpower and heavy artillery.
  • Altogether, we assess that tensions will remain high along the border in the coming weeks. Further clashes should therefore be expected, along with the possibility of a more widespread escalation. Such an escalation could result incidentally from unacceptably high casualties suffered by either side during bouts of cross-border shelling. Nonetheless, we assess that much of the fighting, even the possibility of an escalation, will remain localized to Jammu and Kashmir, most likely the southern sector, over the coming weeks. Efforts to avoid such a development are likely as well, as both sides likely aim to keep the situation under control in order to protect their respective interests.

Assessments: Increased risk of militancy within India from Pakistan-based fighters during period of heightened cross-border hostilities

  • In conjunction with the threat of border hostilities, there is a heightened threat of militant attacks in India emanating from Pakistan-based militants. For example, India routinely accuses Pakistan of attempting to infiltrate militants into India, under the cover of border shelling. Numerous warnings have been sounded in recent months, the latest being mentioned above concerning possible attacks on ‘soft targets’.
  • India will therefore maintain heightened deployments in the coming weeks, especially ahead of and during President Obama’s visit, in order to prevent infiltrations across the LoC. However, the latest clashes between militants and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, including the detention and elimination of Pakistani militants, points to an initial and successful infiltration of some fighters.  Still, India has claimed to have thwarted several infiltrations. Nonetheless, mass casualty militant attacks inside major Indian cities, or in Jammu and Kashmir, could serve to seriously erode security conditions along the border and bilateral relations between New Delhi and Islamabad. 

Political Analysis: Israel Looking East

In 1992, Israel broadly expanded its international relations, taking advantage of the fall of the Soviet Union’s Iron Curtain. Notwithstanding, improving ties with the eastern powerhouses of China and India was not a primary focus up until few years ago. Recently, Israeli leaders have made successive high profile visits to China, while engaging in considerable public diplomacy efforts vis-à-vis the Chinese people. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even greeted the Chinese people in their native Mandarin during their New Year’s Festival.

The growing cooperation with China is based on bilateral agreements in the fields of technology, green energy, agriculture, and water conservation. Enhancing relations with China in these fields is exactly how Minister of Trade and Labor Shalom Simchon planned for Israel to become one of the world’s top-15 economies. Simchon underlined that a Free Trade Agreement with China is currently on the agenda and is expected to be agreed upon in the foreseeable future.

India makes for a natural ally of Israel given joint challenges

Continue reading Political Analysis: Israel Looking East