Beginning of the Kashmir controversy
There have been two wars between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Now both have become nuclear powers, and they are once again at war with the Pulwama incident.
But what is the cause of this conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir?
History has it that the dispute over Kashmir began long before Pakistan and India gained independence in August 1947.
The plan for the partition of British India, dubbed the ‘Indian Independence Act’, stated that Kashmir could join either India or Pakistan as it wished.
The then Hindu Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, wanted to remain independent or join India. On the other hand, the Muslims of West Jammu and Gilgit-Baltistan wanted to join Pakistan.
The issue of Kashmir in the UN Security Council
In October 1947, in the face of an attack by Pakistan’s Pashtun tribal forces, Hari Singh signed an agreement to join India, and received Indian military assistance. The Indo-Pakistani war finally broke out in 1948 – which lasted for almost two years.
In 1947, India raised the issue of Kashmir in the UN Security Council.
UN Resolution 47 calls for a referendum in Kashmir, withdrawal of Pakistani troops, and minimization of India’s military presence.
Control of Kashmir is divided between Pakistan, India and China
A ceasefire was declared in Kashmir in 1947, but Pakistan refused to withdraw its troops. Since then, Kashmir has been practically divided into two parts controlled by Pakistan and India.
On the other hand, China established control of the Aksai-Chin part of Kashmir through the Sino-Indian War of 1962, and the following year ceded the Trans-Karakoram region of Pakistan-Kashmir to China.
Since then, control of Kashmir has been divided between Pakistan, India and China.
The second Indo-Pakistani war took place in 1965, followed by another armistice. This was followed by the Third Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and the present Shimla Agreement of 1962, which finalized the present Line of Control. In 1964, India seized control of the Siachen Glacier area – not marked by the LoC.
Apart from that, in 1999, Indian forces engaged in another brief but bitter battle against Pakistan-backed forces. Even before that ‘Kargil crisis’ of 1999, the two countries became nuclear powers.
Why so much conflict in India-ruled Kashmir?
Many in this part of Kashmir do not want the area to be ruled by India. They want – full independence, or annexation to Pakistan.
More than 70 per cent of the population in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir is Muslim. It is the only state in India where Muslims are in the majority.
Unemployment is high here, and the security forces’ crackdown on street protests and insurgents has exacerbated the situation.
Insurgent activity in Kashmir began on a large scale with the rise of the JKLF after the disputed 1967 local elections.
India alleges Pakistan is sending fighters across the border – but Pakistan denies it.
Violent uprisings have been raging in the state since 1989.
But since the July 2016 killing of 22-year-old militant leader Burhan Wani in a clash with security forces, widespread protests have spread across the valley.
Burhan Wani was active on social media and the various videos he published were popular among the youth. His role is believed to be important in reviving militant activity in the region and giving him a “fair image”.
Thousands gathered at Burhan Wani’s funeral in the town of Tral, 25 miles from the capital Srinagar. Clashes erupted after the janaza, with more than 30 civilians killed in days of violence.
Since then, sporadic violence has been raging in the state. In 2016, more than 500 people were killed, including civilians, security forces and militants – the highest in a decade.
The hope for peace in Kashmir has been met time and time again
Kashmir is now divided along the Line of Control (India-Pakistan Line of Control). China also controls the northern part of the Aksai-Chin and Siachen Glaciers.
The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 2003 after much bloodshed between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control.
Pakistan later promised to stop funding the rebels in Kashmir, and India offered to pardon the rebels if they stopped their militant activities.
After the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi’s government came to power in 2014, they pledged to take a tough line on Pakistan, but also showed interest in peace talks.
The then Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif also attended the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi in Delhi as a guest.
But a year later, an attack on an Indian air base in Pathankot, Punjab – was blamed on India by Pakistan-based groups. Mr. Modi canceled his scheduled visit to Islamabad. Since then, there has been no further progress in talks between the two countries.