More than 50 years after the subcontinent was partitioned into India and Pakistan, the region has seen three wars, a dangerous arms escalation and the looming threat of a new nuclear war. At the heart of one of the world's most intractable conflict is the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which both countries claim. This timeline tells the story of the bloody regional conflict.
Oct. 26, 1947: The Hindu maharajah of Muslim-majority Kashmir signs the Instrument of Accession, ceding Kashmir to India. This is immediately followed by an invasion by Pakistan-backed members of the Pathan tribe. The invaders are repulsed by the Indian military, which uses the battles to justify its continued presence in Kashmir.
Aug. 13, 1948: The U.N. Commission for India and Pakistan calls for an end to hostilities, with a truce followed by a referendum for self-determination among the Kashmiris. The U.N. resolution was agreed to, but never honored. The chief demand of today's Kashmiri separatists is for this plebiscite to take place.
Jan. 1, 1949: End of the first war over Kashmir, which partitioned the region along the cease-fire line, with a third of Kashmir under Pakistan's control.
Sept. 6, 1965: Second Indo-Pakistan war over Kashmir.
Dec. 3, 1971: Third Indo-Pakistan war, over Bangladesh.
July 2, 1972: Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan recognizes cease-fire line of December 1971 as Line of Control and states commitment to resolve differences through peaceful means and bilateral talks.
1987: Evidence surfaces that the election in India's Jammu and Kashmir state was widely rigged, adding to discontent against a corrupt government and paving the way for the militancy.
1989: Armed militancy begins. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front — the first of dozens of Muslim militant groups that ultimately form — kidnaps an official's daughter. She is returned in exchange for release of prisoners.
1990-1996: Central government rule is imposed on Jammu and Kashmir state. Security forces are given sweeping powers. In 1995 six foreign tourists, including two Americans, are kidnapped. One American, John Childs, escapes. All others are believed killed, though only one body was ever recovered.
1996: Central rule is lifted and elections are held in Jammu and Kashmir state, forming the first government since 1989.
1997: Exchanges of fire escalate along Line of Control. Pakistan begins periodic shelling of the town of Kargil, located in Indian-held Kashmir.
1999: In May 1999, India launches airstrikes against what it calls Pakistani-backed forces that had infiltrated into the high mountains in Indian-administered Kashmir. Pakistan denies backing the infiltrators and responds by putting its troops along its eastern border on high alert. Although the conflict is a targeted operation, the high altitude and difficult terrain takes a heavy toll on the Indian military. The conflict, which is popularly called the Kargil conflict after the town where operations were based, comes to an end following intense U.S. pressure on both sides. Both sides claim victory in the latest conflict.
October 1999: Gen. Pervez Musharraf leads a military coup against Pakistan's elected leader, Nawaz Sharif, and seizes power.
October 2001: The Kashmiri Assembly in Srinagar is attacked, leaving 38 people dead. India blames Pakistan-based militants for the attack; Pakistan denies it.
December 2001: Gunmen launch an attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi, leaving 14 people dead. India blames Pakistani-backed militants for the attacks. Tensions mount as both sides launch a dramatic buildup on either side of the Line of Control.
2002: In May 2002, militants attack an Indian army camp in Kashmir, leaving more than 30 people dead. Moderate Kashmiri leader Abdul Gani Lone is shot dead at a public meeting in Srinagar. Tensions mount as Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee calls upon the military to prepare for a "decisive fight" and Pakistan test-fires three medium-range surface-to-surface.