The Gulf War emphasized once again that nuclear weapons are the ultimate coin of power. In the final analysis the U.S. could go in because it had nuclear weapons and Iraq did not.
-- India's Army Chief of Staff, General Sundarji, 1991
India and Pakistan have been fighting over the mountainous region of Kashmir for more than fifty years. Since 1998, tensions have increased alarmingly, leading to worldwide concern over a possible fourth war between the now nuclear-armed neighbors.
Kashmir is a divided land. Religiously, it is home to Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. Politically, many powers have their fingers in the conflict. The U.S. has had strong influence in Pakistan's affairs since the early days of the Cold War, and just as importantly in its recent war against the Islamic militant group al-Qaida. The United Nations has had observers along the Line of Control separating India and Pakistan since 1949. Kashmir's next door neighbor China has a large influence, especially after giving Pakistan nuclear technology. Al-Qaeda has a significant amount of popular support in the area.