The Border Dispute in Kashmir

Ken Briggs
6 min readSep 6

This summer, I took classes at Harvard Extension School, a division of Harvard University devoted to adult and distance education. One of the classes was International Conflict and Cooperation, and we were tasked with writing policy memos on various subjects.

Map of the Kashmir Border Dispute by

Below is the prompt for the first of the four memos I wrote:

Since the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the countries have engaged in ongoing conflict over controlling the region of Kashmir. A series of air conflicts in 1972 established a 460-mile border (the Line of Control) and in 2003, both countries signed a cease-fire agreement. However, a terrorist attack on Indian police officers in February 2019 reignited tensions, with India blaming Pakistan, and Pakistan denying culpability. Since then, skirmishes have frequently broken out along the border. In February 2021, however, India and Pakistan issued a joint statement in which the two countries said they would strictly adhere to the 2003 cease-fire.

Nonetheless, the US State Department states that it is currently monitoring the situation closely. Write a memo to the US President in which you (i) assess the costs and benefits of choosing not to intervene as compared to one other policy option (if you are having difficulty in thinking of ideas, consider the diplomatic, economic, and military tools available to the US); and (ii) make a recommendation about future efforts the U.S. should undertake to promote its interests.

The final product is below. These memos are dense and took a lot of work, but I’m very proud of the end result.

Policy Memo on the Kashmir Border Dispute

To: The President of the United States

From: The Secretary of State of the United States

CC: Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Date: 06/28/2023

Subject: America’s Role in Resolving the Dispute Over Kashmir


A territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir threatens stability in South Asia and a tenuous 2003 ceasefire recognizes a de-facto line-of-control (LOC). The United States may stay uninvolved or negotiate a settlement that increases…

Ken Briggs

Engineer, tech co-founder, writer, and student of foreign policy. Talks about the intersection of technology, politics, business, foreign affairs, and history