Why Rising Unrest in the Kashmir Valley Matters for the United States

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A week ago, Indian armed forces killed Burhan Wani, the infamous 21 year-old commander of the Kashmiri militant separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). Burhan had joined Hizbul Mujahideen at the age of 15, helped resurrect the once dominant insurgent group from life-support, and gained influence through passionate anti-India speeches and Robin Hood-esque antics routinely broadcast to his vast social media following. Because of his popularity, local militants ballooned to outnumber foreign militants for the first time in a decade. News of Wani’s death spread like wildfire, triggering massive protests across the region and mass attendance at his funeral—estimated between 30,000 and 150,000.

The week of unrest in the Kashmir valley triggered by Burhan’s death has consumed Indian attention, but been a blip in the U.S. media. Nevertheless, the unfolding events require the U.S. government to watch closely as a number of potential scenarios can impact U.S. interests and equities including international terrorism, South Asian stability, and US-India relations.

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