Thread: Kashmir Problem
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Old Saturday, October 29, 2005
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Default Kashmir Problem


Where is Kashmir?

Kashmir, a 222,236 sq km region in the northwestern Indian subcontinent, is surrounded by China in the northeast, the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in the south, by Pakistan in the west, and by Afghanistan in the northwest. The region has been dubbed "disputed territory" between India and Pakistan since the partition of India in 1947. The southern and southeastern parts of the region make up the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, while the northern and western parts are controlled by Pakistan. A border called the Line of Control (agreed to in 1972) divides the two parts. The eastern area of Kashmir comprising the northeastern part of the region(Aksai Chin) came under the control of China since 1962. The predominant religion in the Jammu area is Hinduism in the east and Islam in the west. Islam is also the main religion in the Kashmir valley and the Pakistan-controlled parts.

It may seem that the history and geography of Kashmir and the religious affiliations of its people present an ideal recipe for bitterness and animosity. But it is not so. The Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir have lived in harmony since the 13th century when Islam emerged as a major religion in Kashmir. The Rishi tradition of Kashmiri Hindus and Sufi-Islamic way of life of Kashmiri Muslims not only co-existed, they complemented each other and also created a unique ethnicity in which Hindus and Muslims visited the same shrines and venerated the same saints.

A Brief History of Kashmir

The earliest recorded history of Kashmir by Kalhan begins at the time of the Mahabharata war. In the 3rd century BC, emperor Ashoka introduced Buddhism in the valley. Kashmir became a major hub of Hindu culture by the 9th century AD. It was the birthplace of the Hindu sect called Kashmiri 'Shaivism', and a haven for the greatest Sanskrit scholars.

Several Hindu sovereigns ruled the land until 1346, the year of the advent of Muslim invaders. During this time, a multitude of Hindu shrines were destroyed, and Hindus were forced to embrace Islam. The Mughals ruled Kashmir from 1587 to 1752 — a period of peace and order. This was followed by a dark period (1752-1819), when Afghan despots ruled Kashmir. The Muslim period, which lasted for about 500 years, came to an end with the annexation of Kashmir to the Sikh kingdom of Punjab in 1819.

The Kashmir region, in its present form, became a part of the Hindu Dogra kingdom at the end of the First Sikh War in 1846, when, by the treaties of Lahore and Amritsar, Maharaja Gulab Singh, the Dogra ruler of Jammu, was made the ruler of Kashmir "to the eastward of the River Indus and westward of the River Ravi." The Dogra rulers — Maharaja Gulab Singh (1846 to 1857), Maharaja Ranbir Singh (1857 to 1885), Maharaja Pratap Singh (1885 to 1925), and Maharaja Hari Singh (1925 to 1950) — laid the foundations of the modern Jammu & Kashmir state. This princely state lacked a definite boundary until the 1880s, when the British delimited boundaries in negotiations with Afghanistan and Russia. The crisis in Kashmir began immediately after the British rule ended.

The Origin of Kashmir Crisis

After the British withdrew from the Indian subcontinent in 1947, territorial disputes over Kashmir started brewing. When India and Pakistan were partitioned, the ruler of the princely state of Kashmir was given the right to decide on whether to merge with either Pakistan or India or remain independent with certain reservations.

After a few months of dilemma, Maharaja Hari Singh, the Hindu ruler of a predominantly Muslim state, decided to sign an Instrument of Accession to the Indian Union in October 1947. This enraged the Pakistani leaders. They attacked Jammu & Kashmir as they felt that all areas of India with Muslim majority should be under their control. Pakistani troops overran most of the state and the Maharaja took refuge in India.

India, wanting to confirm the act of accession and defend its territory, sent troops to Kashmir. But by then Pakistan had captured a considerable chunk of the region. This gave rise to a localized warfare that continued through 1948, with Pakistan retaining control of a large area of the state, but India keeping a larger part.

The Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru soon declared a unilateral ceasefire and called for a plebiscite. India filed a complaint with the UN Security Council, which established the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). Pakistan was accused of invading the region, and was asked to withdraw its forces from Jammu & Kashmir. The UNCIP also passed a resolution stating: "The question of accession of the state of Jammu & Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of free and impartial plebiscite". However, this could not take place because Pakistan did not comply with the UN resolution and refused to withdraw from the state. The international community failed to play a decisive role in the matter saying that Jammu & Kashmir is a "disputed territory". In 1949, with the intervention of the United Nations, India and Pakistan defined a ceasefire line ("Line of Control") that divided the two countries. This left Kashmir a divided and disturbed territory.

In September 1951, elections were held in the Indian Jammu & Kashmir, and National Conference under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah came to power, with the inauguration of the Constituent Assembly of the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

Warfare again broke out between India and Pakistan in 1965. A cease-fire was established, and the two countries signed an agreement at Tashkent (Uzbekistan) in 1966, pledging to end the dispute by peaceful means. Five years later, the two again went to war that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. Another accord was signed in 1972 between the two Prime Ministers — Indira Gandhi and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto — in Simla. After Bhutto was executed in 1979, the Kashmir issue once again flared up.

During the 1980s, massive infiltrations from Pakistan were detected in the region, and India has since then maintained a strong military presence in Jammu & Kashmir to check these movements along the cease-fire line. India says that Pakistan has been stirring up violence in its part of Kashmir by training and funding "Islamic guerrillas" that have waged a separatist war since 1989 killing tens of thousands of people. Pakistan has always denied the charge, calling it an indigenous "freedom struggle

In 1999, intense fighting ensued between the infiltrators and the Indian army in the Kargil area of the western part of the state, which lasted for more than two months. The battle ended with India managing to reclaim most of the area on its side that had been seized by the infiltrators.

In 2001, Pakistan-backed terrorists waged violent attacks on the Kashmir Assembly and the Indian Parliament in New Delhi. This has resulted in a war-like situation between the two countries, with Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf asking his army to be "fully prepared and capable of defeating all challenges," and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee saying, "We don't want war but war is being thrust upon us, and we will have to face it." The Indian Home Minister declared that India "will now wage a decisive battle against the proxy war…in this war against terrorism."

However, India's influence right wing Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has surprised everyone by not giving any call for war with Pakistan. Marking a clear distinction between "Islamist" forces and "Islamic" traditions, it said that Pakistan cannot yet be bracketed with countries like Sudan or Taliban Afghanistan, which supports Islamic terrorism, "even though there are forces in that country, which do like to use Islamic terrorism for political ends."

India and Pakistan have started massing troops along the border, almost cut down diplomatic ties and transport links, fuelling fears of a fourth war in 50 years.

However due to the pressure inserted by the world community both the countries refrained from any further steps towards the process of war.Infact both the countries were fully aware about the fact that the war will result in more disharmony between the nations and will make things deterioate further.Therefore India on pressurising of USA withdrew its troops from Pakistani borders ,releiving both the nations and the world.


Since their overt nuclearization India and Pakistan tried to make peace three times .In 1998 and 1999 ,optimism soared as the two countries embarked upon the a much lauded bus diplomacy which resulted in the historic visit of Indian Prime Minister to Lahore where a declaration was signed as "Lahore declaration" with the objective that both the countries can move towards peace and progress with bilateral realtions and mutual considerations.
Then there was Agra Summit which abruptly ended because of the disagreements over the LOC and the presence of militants in the region.
The next step was taken for peace in January 2004 during the SAARC summit when the PM's of both the countries met on side lines and agreed on the re esatablishment of their mutual dialogues.

Thus a round of talks started on regular basis at official level which resulted in the ease of tensions between the two neigbours.Consequently the bus system between New Delhi and Lahore , Muzaffarabad and Srinagar were inagurated and thus a way of people to people contact developed.The foremost advantage which both the countries faced because of this emerging detente is the coexistence of peace and friendly realtions.At present two new bus services between Lahore and Amritsr and Amritsar to Nakana are under consideration and it is hoped that these two will be launched soon.

Infact both the countries now look forward to arrange mutual programs for their economic,social and cultural development,which is conceived by many analysts as significant steps towards the road of peace and for the resolutoon of the conflict of Kashmir which always prevented both of the countries to move towards the good friendly relations.
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