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Kashmir Conflict

Partition, dispute and war

In 1935, British rulers compelled the Dogra King of Jammu and Kashmir to lease parts, which were to make up the new Province of the North-West Frontier, of his kingdom for 60 years. This move was designed to strengthen the northern boundaries, especially from Russia.

In 1947, the British dominion of India came to an end with the creation of two new nations, India and Pakistan. Each of the 565 Indian princely states had to decide which of the two new nations to join: secular India or Islamic Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir, which had a predominantly Muslim population, was one of these autonomous states, ruled by the Dogra King (or Maharaja) Hari Singh. Hari Singh preferred to remain independent and sought to avoid the stress placed on him by either India and Pakistan by playing each against the other.

Pakistani tribals (Kabailis) from North Waziristan, aided and supported by Pakistani soldiers, entered Kashmir to force the Maharajah out of power as he had avoided a vote to decide Kashmir's fate during partition. The Maharajah was not able to put up against the invasion; he decided to accede Kashmir to India. The Instrument of Accession was accepted by Lord Mountbatten, Governor General of India October 27, 1947. The Indian troops then marched into Kashmir.

Indo-Pakistani War of 1947

The irregular Pakistani tribals made rapid advances into North Kashmir (Baramulla sector) after the rumors that the Maharaja was going to decide for the union with India. Maharaja Hari Singh and Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir asked the Government of India to intervene. However, the Government of India pointed out that India and Pakistan had signed an agreement of non-intervention (maintenance of the status quo) in Jammu and Kashmir; and although tribal fighters from Pakistan had entered Jammu and Kashmir, there was, until then, no iron-clad legal evidence to unequivocally prove that the Government of Pakistan was officially involved. It would be illegal for India to unilaterally intervene (in an open, official capacity) unless Jammu and Kashmir officially joined the Union of India, at which point it would be possible to send in its forces and occupy the remaining parts.

The Maharaja and Prime Minister would have preferred to stay independent to maintain their power and influence, but desperately needed the Indian military's help when the Pakistani tribal invaders reached the outskirts of Srinagar. Before their arrival into Srinagar, Maharaja Hari Singh and Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah completed negotiations for acceding Jammu and Kashmir to India in exchange for receiving military aid. The agreement which ceded Jammu and Kashmir to India was signed by the Maharaja and Lord Mountbatten. Original Accession Document

Pakistan claims that the Maharaja and Prime Minister acted under duress, and that the accession of Kashmir to India is invalidated by a previous agreement between India and Pakistan, to maintain the "status quo". India counters that the invasion of Kashmir by tribals, allegedly aided and instigated by Islamabad, had rendered the agreement null and void. India points out that the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India was not just the decision of the ruler Hari Singh, but also of the popular Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah which reflected the will of the people living in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, Pakistan believes a double standard by India regarding the decisions of independent rulers as the Nizam of Hyderabad, another princely state, had not acceded to India, but the kingdom was forcibly incorporated with a police action on the grounds that he did not represent the majority population. Thus, while Kashmir's rulers, without a vote by the Kashmiri people to decide their fate, were said by the Indian government to represent Kashmir, the Nizam, another native rule, was said by the Indian government to be not representative of the people.

India disagrees on the allegation by Pakistan because it believes that the Nizam of Hyderabad did not enjoy the support of his people. Numerous protests and demonstrations against the Nizam had occurred. This became all the more evident as the police action taken by the Indian government did not face any resistance and was accomplished without the loss of a single life in a single night.

The resulting war, the First Kashmir War, lasted until 1948, when India moved the issue to the UN Security Council. The UN previously had passed resolutions setting up for the monitoring of the conflict in Kashmir. The committee it set up was called the United Nations Committee for India and Pakistan. Following the set up of the UNCIP the UN security council passed resolution 47 April 21, 1948. The resolution imposed that an immediate cease-fire take place and said that Pakistan should withdraw all presence and had no say in Jammu and Kashmir politics. It stated that India should retain a minimum military presence and stated "that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations". The cease fire took place December 31, 1948.

At that time, the Indian and Pakistani governments agreed to hold the plebiscite but neither side actually removed its troops. The plebiscite didn't ever happen either leading the UN Security Council to pass several more resolutions which reaffirmed its earlier resolution. The plebiscite still has yet to happen.

Aftermath of war

The Treaty of Accession signed by Sheikh Abdullah and Maharaja Hari Singh and his heir, the Sadar-e-Riyasat Karan Singh Dogra, was ratified by the popular parliament of the kingdom, dominated by the popular political party of Kashmir, the National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah. Under the leadership of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, a Constituent Assembly of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir (which was also its Legistative Assembly) had ratified the State's accession to India and had adopted a constitution [3] calling for a perpetual merger of the state with India. This constitution was promulgated 26 January 1957, making Jammu and Kashmir as the only state of India to have a separate constitution (much to the displeasure of many right-wing nationalists in India).

Pakistan still asks for a plebiscite in Kashmir under the UN. However, India is no longer willing to allow a plebiscite as it claims that the situation has changed and that a large number of the Hindus who once lived in Kashmir were forced to move out due to threat from separatist activities. It also claims that Pakistan or China are not willing to demilitarize areas occupied by them. This is mentioned as one of the conditions at the UN.

The ceasefire line is known as the Line of Control (dotted line) and is the pseudo-border between India and Pakistan in most of the Kashmir region.

Sino-Indian War

In 1962, troops from the People's Republic of China and India clashed in territory claimed by both. China had the upper hand throughout the war, resulting in the Chinese administration of the region called Aksai Chin, which continues to date, as well as a strip along the eastern border. In addition to these lands, another smaller area, the Trans-Karakoram, was demarcated as the line of control between China and Pakistan, although parts on the Chinese side are claimed by India to be parts of Kashmir. The line that separates India from China in this region is known as the Line of Actual Control. 

1965 and 1971 Wars

In 1965 and 1971, heavy fighting again broke out between India and Pakistan. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 resulted in the defeat of Pakistan and Pakistan Military's surrender in East Pakistan (Bangladesh). The Simla Agreement was signed in 1972 between India and Pakistan. By this treaty, both countries agreed to settle all issues by peaceful means and mutual discussions in the framework of the UN Charter. The treaty is often viewed by many as having cemented the Line of Control as a permanent border between the two nations, although Pakistanis and Kashmiris consider it temporary, pending a final solution.

Rise of Militancy

In 1989, a widespread armed insurgency started in Kashmir, which continues to this day.

Pakistan claims these insurgents are Jammu and Kashmir citizens, and they are rising up against the Indian Army in an independence movement. It says the Indian Army is committing serious human rights violations to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. It denies that it is giving armed help to the insurgents. India claims these insurgents are Islamic terrorist groups from Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Afghanistan, fighting to make Jammu and Kashmir part of Pakistan. It believes Pakistan is giving armed help to the terrorists, and training them in Pakistan. It also says the terrorists have been killing many citizens in Kashmir, and committing human rights violations. Recently, the UN has proven the Indian claim to be true, with irrefutable evidence of Islamic terrorist groups operating in the area.

The Pakistani government calls these insurgents, a large fraction of whom are of foreign origin, "Kashmiri freedom fighters", and claims that it gives only moral and diplomatic support to these insurgents, though India and UN countries believe they are Pakistani-supported terrorists from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

Cross-border infiltration

The border and the Line of Control separating Indian and Pakistani Kashmir passes through some exceptionally difficult terrain. The world's highest battleground, the Siachen Glacier is a part of this difficult-to-man boundary. Even with 200,000 Military Personnel India maintains that it is unfeasible to place enough men to guard all sections of the border throughout the various seasons of the year. Infact Pakistan itself has indirectly acquiesced its role in "cross border terrorism" when it agreed to curb such activities after intense pressure from the Bush administration in mid 2002.

The Government of Pakistan has repeatedly claimed that by constructing a fence along the LoC, India is violating the Shimla Accord. However, India claims the construction of the fence has helped decrease armed infiltration into Indian-administered Kashmir.

In 2002 Pakistani President and Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf promised to check infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir.

Human rights abuse

Claims of human rights abuses have been made concerning on both the Indian Armed Forces and the Militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir. [8]. According to a MORI survey, about 45% of Kashmiris in Jammu and Kashmir believe the terrorists from Pakistan-administered Kashmir are violating human rights, and 25% believe the Indian Army is doing such. Following the opening of discussion between President Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, matters apparently improved. However, Amnesty International has said in its last report, released on May 24 2005, that serious violations such as rape and extra judicial killings continue, brushing aside claims of improvement. It remains to be clear whether Indian actions to control the problem have had any effect.

Reasons behind the dispute

Ever since the Partition of India in 1947, both India and Pakistan have claims over Kashmir. These claims are centered on historical incidents and on religious affiliations of the Kashmiri people.

Indian view

The Indian claim centers on the agreement of the Maharaja and Prime Minister to sign over Kashmir to India through the Instrument of Accession. It also focuses on India's claim of secular ideology, an ideology that is not meant to factor religion into governance of major policy and thus considers it irrelevant in a boundary dispute. However, Indian translation of 'Secularism' is radically different from the definition as understood in the Western context. While Secularism as a Western Notion means separation of Church and State, in Indian context it simply means Equality of Religions. The Indian viewpoint is generally the official viewpoint used and supported by the United Nations and its client countries.

Another argument by India is that, it says minorities are very well integrated, with some members of the minority communities holding positions of power and influence in India.

Indians also maintain that Kashmiris would be better off in India because they claim that Muslims are better off in India than in any other non-Muslim nation.

Thus, to briefly summarize the Indian viewpoint: 

  • For a UN Resolution subscribing Plebiscite monitored by any third neutral party, Pakistan should first vacate its part of Kashmir. 

  • The democratically elected Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir had unanimously ratified the Maharaja's (an Autocratic Ruler setup as a puppet head by the British after the annexation of former conquered Sikh territories) instrument of Accession to India and had adopted a constitution for the state that called for a perpetual merger of the state with the Indian Union. 

  • India does not accept the Two Nation Theory that forms the basis of Pakistan. 

  • The state of Jammu and Kashmir is made autonomous by the article 370 of the Constitution of India. India and many countries including Pakistan's ally USA alleges that most of the terrorists operating in Kashmir are themselves Pakistanis from Pakistan Administered Kashmir. 

  • Pakistan's covert designs on Kashmir like the failed Operation Gibraltar and Kargil War proves that Pakistan often resorts to force to settle the issue of Kashmir. 

  • India states that despite Pakistan being named as an "Islamic Republic", Pakistan has been responsible for one of the worst genocide of muslims by any government in recent history when it killed millions of its own countrymen in East Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities. 

  • India also cites the violent repressions of Balochs and other internal sectarian violences in Pakistan among fellow muslims as further proof that Pakistan is incapable of a cohesive existence even with muslim majority and that its concern over muslims in Kashmir is nothing more than shedding crocodile tears. 

  • The Indian Government believes that Pakistan has used the Kashmir issue more as "a diversionary tactic" from internal and external issues and that the "survival of Pakistan depends how effectively it can keep the pot boiling" 

  • India also points to articles and US reports which show that the terrorists are funded mostly by Pakistan as well as through criminal means like from the illegal sale of arms and narcotics as well as through circulating counterfeit currency in India. Many militants are also known to resort to unlawful activities like extortion and bank robberies.

Pakistani view

Historically, the Pakistani claim on Kashmir has been based on the fact that the majority of Kashmir population is Muslim and, if given the option, most Kashmiris would vote to join Pakistan or seek independence. Since 1951, Pakistan has been demanding of India to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir as agreed by India in 1951. Pakistan claims that Kashmiris took a violent path to independence only when they became hopeless and disillusioned about their future. Pakistan claims that India is now using excessive state forces to suppress the freedom struggle of Kashmiris and in doing so, is causing severe human rights violations. This is also documented by several human rights groups. Pakistan also points to Indian suppression of minorities, such as in Assam, and mass killings of Sikhs following Indira Gandhi's assassination. It says that India is only using secularism as a disguise and many governments that have been in power in India have used violent means to settle problems with minorities.

Thus, to summarize the Pakistani viewpoint:

  • According to the two-nation theory by which Pakistan was formed, Kashmir should have been with Pakistan, because it has a huge Muslim majority. Pakistan believes that given a choice, almost all Kashmiris will vote for Pakistan. 

  • India has shown disregard to the resolutions of the UN (by not holding a plebiscite). It fears that if a free and fair plebiscite is held, the Kashmiris would choose Pakistan. India however asserts that since 1947 the demographics of Pakistani side of Kashmir has been altered with generations of non-Kashmiris allowed to take residence in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. This, India believes would heavily influence any voting in favour of Pakistan rendering the idea of a free and fair plebiscite impossible. 

  • India's pretence to be a secular state is a deceit. In India, everything is dominated by the Hindus and the Muslims suffer persecution and repression (this despite the fact that a lot of celebrities, influential people and even those holding positions of political power being Muslims: Examples include the current President Abdul Kalam, pouplar moviestar Shah Rukh Khan, renowned music director AR Rehman.). 

  • To quell the legitimate voice of the Kashmiri people, the Indian army uses ruthless and barbaric methods. Pakistan alleges that the Indian Army has been involved in murdering innocents and raping women in Kashmir. In a 2002 MORI survey conducted in Jammu and Kashmir, however, nobody in Jammu or Leh believe human rights are being violated by Indian security forces. In Srinagar, 64% believe there are. 

  • The Kashmiri people have now been forced by the circumstances to rise against the repression of the Indian army and uphold their right of self-determination through violent means. Pakistan just gives the Kashmiri freedom-fighters moral and ethical support. However, in a 2002 survey, 65%-a very clear majority-of people in Jammu and Kashmir believe Pakistani involvement in the area has been damaging. 

  • Pakistan claims that the democracy in India and the elections in Kashmir are sham. However, Pakistan itself has not been under democratically elected governments for most of its history. 

  • Most of Pakistan's major rivers come from Kashmir, and it would make Pakistan almost a desert if India stops their waters. 

  • Pakistan also alleges that the Hindutva of India actually want to swallow up Pakistan to get their Akhand Bharat (integrated Greater India). 

Water dispute

Another valid reason behind the dispute over Kashmir is water. Kashmir is the origin point for many rivers and tributaries of the Indus River basin. They include Jhelum and Chenab which primarily flow into Pakistan while other branches - the Ravi, Beas and the Sutlej irrigate northern India. Pakistan has been apprehensive that in a dire need India under whose portion of Kashmir lies the origins of the said rivers, would use its strategic advantage and withhold the flow and thus choke the agrarian economy of Pakistan. The Boundary Award of 1947 meant that the headworks of the chief irrigation systems of Pakistan were left located in Indian Territory. Essentially this is seen as a veto power held by India over Pakistan agriculture. The Indus Waters Treaty signed in 1960 resolved most of these disputes over the sharing of water, calling for mutual cooperation in this regard. This treaty faced issues raised by Pakistan over the construction of dams on the Indian side which limit water to the Pakistani side.

Many historians agree that the failure of Pakistan to take the much more fertile areas of Kashmir during the initial conflict (First Kashmir War) has cost them dearly. This is because the area occupied by Pakistan is much less fertile and less strategic a point given India's unlimited access to the most critical mineral of all: water. The Kashmir issue thus is both about land and water.

Map issues

As with other disputed territories, each government issues maps depicting their claims in Kashmir as part of their territory, regardless of actual control. It is illegal in India to exclude all or part of Kashmir in a map. It is also illegal in Pakistan not to include the state of Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistani territory, leading to many arguments and disputes. Non-participants often use the Line of Control and the Line of Actual Control as the depicted boundaries, as is done in the CIA World Factbook, and the region is often marked out in hashmarks, although the Indian government strictly opposes such practices. When Microsoft released a map in Windows 95 and MapPoint 2002, a controversy was raised because it did not show all of Kashmir as part of India as per Indian claim. 

Recent developments

Both India and Pakistan continue to assert their sovereignty or rights over the entire region of Kashmir. India considers all of Kashmir to be an integral part of India, and often makes statements domestically about acquiring the Pakistani half, [citation needed] known in Pakistan as ‘Azad’ (free) Kashmir. In international forums however it has offered to make the Line of Control a permanent border on a number of occasions. Officially Pakistan insists on a UN sponsored plebiscite, so that the people of Kashmir will have a free say in which country all of Kashmir should be incorporated into. Unofficially, the Pakistani leadership has indicated that they would be willing to accept alternatives such as a demilitarized Kashmir, if sovereignty of Azad Kashmir was to be extended over the Kashmir valley, or the ‘Chenab’ formula, by which India would retain parts of Kashmir on its side of the Chenab river, and Pakistan the other side. Besides the popular factions that support either parties, there is a third faction which supports independence and withdrawal of both India and Pakistan. These have been the respective stands of the parties for long, and there have been no significant change over the years. As a result, all efforts to solve the conflict have been futile so far.

The Freedom in the World 2006 report categorized the Indian-administered Kashmir as "partly free", and Pakistan-administered Kashmir as well as the country of Pakistan "not free". [17] Also contrary to popular belief, a large proportion of the Jammu and Kashmir populace wish to remain with India. This was confirmed in a 2002 survey by MORI where around 61% of the respondents said they felt they would be better off politically and economically as an Indian citizen, with only 6% preferring Pakistan instead. The rest were undecided or wished to become independent. 

Conflict in Kargil

In mid-1999 insurgents and Pakistani soldiers from Pakistani Kashmir infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir. During the winter season, Indian forces regularly move down to lower altitudes as severe climatic conditions makes it almost impossible for them to guard the high peaks near the LoC. The insurgents took advantage of this and occupied vacant mountain peaks of the Kargil range overlooking the highway in Indian Kashmir, connecting Srinagar and Leh. By blocking the highway, they wanted to cut-off the only link between the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. This resulted in a high-scale conflict between the Indian Army and the Kashmiri insurgents.

At the same time, fears of the Kargil War turning into a nuclear war, provoked the then-US President Bill Clinton to pressure Pakistan to retreat. Faced with mounting losses of personnel and posts, Pakistan backed forces withrew the remaining troops from the area ending the conflict. India reclaimed control of the peaks which they now patrol and monitor all year long. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is in exile claimed that Pakistan had lost 4,000 soldiers in the Kargil Conflict, with Pakistan People's Party putting the figure at 3,000.

Efforts to end the crisis

The 9/11 attacks on the US, resulted in the US government wanting to restrain militancy in the world, including Pakistan. Due to Indian persuasion on US Congress Members, the US urged Islamabad to cease infiltrations, if they are occurring, by Islamic fighters into Indian-held Kashmir. In early 2002, India tried to take advantage of US's strategic shift by escalating its response to the attempted attack on the Indian Parliament, resulting in war threats, massive deployment and international fears of nuclear war in the subcontinent.

After intensive diplomatic efforts by other countries, India and Pakistan began to withdraw troops from the international border June 10, 2002, and negotiations began again. Effective November 26, 2003, India and Pakistan have agreed to maintain a ceasefire along the undisputed International Border, the disputed Line of Control, and the Siachen glacier. This is the first such "total ceasefire" declared by both nuclear powers in nearly 15 years. In February 2004, Pakistan further increased pressure on Pakistanis fighting in Indian held Kashmir to adhere to the ceasefire. The nuclear-armed neighbours also launched several other mutual confidence building measures. Restarting the bus service between the Indian- and Pakistani- administered Kashmir has helped defuse the tensions between the countries. Both India and Pakistan have also decided to cooperate on economic fronts.

Recent events

The 2005 Kashmir earthquake, which killed over 80,000 people, had much potential to affect the Kashmir conflict. In the wake of the earthquake, India and Pakistan were finalizing negotiations for the opening of a road for disaster relief through Kashmir. The 29 October 2005 Delhi bombings may also have catalysed similar political efforts.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "History of the Kashmir conflict".

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