Jammu and Kashmir

>> February 10, 2020

>> Blog Post #27

I was writing last week about what countries seem to have in store for us in the future in terms of cyber warfare.

I am always surprised when I read the paper at the very large number of conflict zones in the world. I remember a few years ago going to the DMZ while travelling in South Korea. The DMZ stands for demilitarized zone and as you can guess from its name….

No, it actually is a very heavily militarized zone, one of the most crowded militarized zones in the world, separating North Korea from South Korea since the 1950s’. Visiting it brings back memories of the cold war and the “it’s the good guys versus the bad guys” type of explanations on what the world is about. I was amazed when going there that the two neighboring Koreas were under a cease-fire for the past 60 plus years. Can you imagine your country not putting an end to a war by signing a peace treaty, but only signing a cease fire, the type of agreement that generally do not last, only to see it persist for decades?

Anyways, I recently learned about another zone that seems to have known rocky times in the twentieth century: Jammu & Kashmir.

Jammu & Kashmir has the great privilege of being a topic of dispute between India, Pakistan and China. That’s right, 3 countries that have the nuclear bomb. What could go wrong?

Well it happens that recently, the Indian government revoked Jammu & Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy and decided to cut their internet. That digital black-out imposed on the Jammu & Kashmir region is apparently supposed to help India control the local population in the region. Apparently shutting down the internet is somewhat of an Indian habit since according to this Forbes article, India holds the sad record of the country that shuts down the internet the most in the world, and it’s not even close. You probably will realize that number two on that list is none other than their rival neighbor Pakistan.

Inhabitants of Jammu & Kashmir have had their internet cut since December 18, that’s hundreds of days without the internet or very limited access to it. Can you imagine how much of a toll that must take on people, communications, businesses, the health system, education.

What happens when tomorrow you and your community are deemed to be opponents for whatever reasons a local government has come up with: race, religion, cultural specificities.

This is the type of action that will become more common as governments will decide to inflict pain on a specific population. You might be the good guys today, but that can change in a hurry. Be aware of it and maybe just keep in mind that you should probably have some kind of plan in place for when you lose access to your internet for a few days. It’s just like having a few candles in your kitchen cupboard for when the lights go off. Better be prepared.

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