The year began with violence when Kashmiri police blamed militants for a shooting attack on January 1 that killed four people in the southern village of Dhangri, followed by an explosion in the same area the next day that killed a 5 year old boy and a 12 year old girl. At least six people were injured on January 21 in two explosions in the city of Jammu.

While US-made weapons are unlikely to change the balance of power in the Kashmir conflict, they provide the Taliban with a considerable reserve of combat power potentially available to those willing and able to purchase it, said Jonathan Schroden, director of the Countering Threats and Challenges Program at the Center for Naval Analyzes, a research group based outside Washington.

«When combined with the Taliban’s need for money and existing smuggling networks, that reservoir poses a substantial threat to regional players for years to come,» he said.

a treasure trove of weapons

More than $7.1 billion in US-funded military equipment was in the possession of the Afghan government when it fell to the Taliban in August 2021 amid the withdrawal, according to a report. defense department report published last August. Although more than half were ground vehicles, it also included more than 316,000 weapons worth nearly $512 million, plus ammunition and other accessories.

While it is likely that a large number of small arms that were transferred to Afghan forces ended up in the hands of the Taliban, “it is important to remember that nearly all weapons and equipment used by US military forces in Afghanistan were recalled or destroyed prior to our arrival.» withdrawal,” Army Lt. Col. Rob Lodewick, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

The Defense Department report also noted that the operational status of the Afghan army equipment was unknown.

Questions about weapons being used in Kashmir arose in January 2022, when a video of militants brandishing what appeared to be US-made weapons was widely shared on Indian social media. Although the origin of the weapons in such cases can be difficult to verify (some may be modified to resemble US weapons, while others may not have been made in the US), the Indian military says it has recovered at least seven that are authentic.

“From the weapons and equipment we recovered, we realized that there was a spill of high-tech weapons, night vision devices and equipment, which were left behind by the Americans in Afghanistan. [and] now they were finding their way to this side,” Major General Ajay Chandpuria, an officer in the Indian army, was quoted as saying by Indian media last year.

Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Governor Manoj Sinha said the government was aware of the problem and steps had been taken to combat the infiltration of US weapons into Kashmir.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and have taken action accordingly. Our police and army are working,” Sinha, the region’s top official, said on the sidelines of a news conference last year at his official residence in Srinagar.

Kashmiri Police Officer Vijay Kumar also said the authorities were fully capable of countering the militant threat.