An Overview of the ‘Kashmir Issue’
Kashmir is the Northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Kashmir valley is the biggest one in India. The valley is known to be the home of Sufism – miscellany of left Islamic and Hindu customs. On the west part of its border is Pakistan. Conflict between India and Pakistan of Kashmir began in August 1947. The specific geographic location and religious groups inside Kashmir has made it a zone of collapse of interests. This area is believed to be mainly inhabited by Muslims but Muslims, hinduists and Buddhists have nigh evenly separated regions. Being situated between India and Pakistan brought tough fate to Kashmir after the Indian subcontinent`s independence. This continuous conflict is known as Kashmir issue. This rivalry between the two countries evolved over the years to reach present days, where it is still a major problem in the Far East Region. During this time United Nations (UN) has tried to help solving this problem but the countries cannot reach a consensus.
The establishment of Kashmir and the repressive government of its rulers were of high importance about the following faith of the state. The Kashmir issue started in 1947 with the partition of the British Indian Empire. The new-formed India and Pakistan were competing for dominance over the state because of religious issues. This became a major cause of the Indian-Pakistani conflict with proactive actions from both countries to become Kashmir`s dominions. India and Pakistan has had conflicts though the years till nowadays but the Kashmir issue remains the most severe one. United Nations took major part in trying to prevent the conflict to escalate in a nuclear war. However separatism of Muslim militants occurred, which was the root cause for terrorism in this region. The Kashmir issue has been having main impact in worsening the Indian-Pakistani conflict over the years.
People in the valley are dedicated to Sufism as Hussain, Dr. Ashiq explained in his article “Kashmir dispute: A brief history”. Most of the inhabitants are Muslims but a specific ethnic, called “Kashmiriyat”, can be noticed. It is known to be extremely tolerant to other religions. The land was bought is 1948 from the East India Company for the amount of Rs 75, 00,000. The purpose of its buyer, Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu, was to add it to his present lands ruled. Maharaja Hari Singh, who inherited Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu, was the last Maharaja of the state of Kashmir and Jammu in India. Maharaja Hari Singh`s despotic actions provoked a movement against him in 1931. Most of the Muslim parts of the lands were under his authority without him being elected as a ruler.
The National Conference in 1939, started in 1932 as All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference to fight for the Kashmiri independence, by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, occurred after the offset. The Maharaja created The Glancy Commission which confirmed grudge and proposed possible solutions in its report in 1932. Two years later in 1934 there was a new agitation because the Commission`s proposals were not implemented into actions. People`s patience ended in 1946 when a Quit Kashmir movement to return the independence of the population was led by the National Conference. After this act the Kashmir issue started to grow in importance. A lot of things changed for the Valley in the following year due to the mapping of the Indian subcontinent.
The British Empire gave independence to The British Empire of India in August 1947. The Indian subcontinent was divided into West Pakistan, India and East Pakistan. Kashmir, like other 500 princely states, was offered to choose between having Pakistan or India as its dominion. The decision had to be taken on the basis of the wishes of the population and geographical contiguity. Results from the referendum were expected to point Pakistan as a dominion. However the Maharaja, who was originally Hindu, was delaying his decision, dithering between remaining independent or joining India.
Kashmir suffered an invasion from Pakistan from the west. Kashmir asked India for help in exchange of joining their union. The Maharaja handed control over Kashmir and Jammu to India. Pakistan asked for a referendum among the Kashmiri people but it was refused. Muslim Conference and Chiefs of Gilgit region announced they do not support the idea for a referendum. The Pakistani army met the defensive forces of India. India suggested plebiscite if Pakistan retrieves its army. Pakistan refused stating the people would not vote sincerely with the presence of the Indian army. Pakistan did not look for international support, until later; on 1st January 1948 United Nations was involved. A year later UNCIP (United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan) suggested a referendum in the Kashmir valley to clarify its status as it is explained in “Part 3: Kashmir Issue – Its Current Status”. This act could be taken only without the presence of Indian or Pakistani armed forces. As in 1948 and 1949 both countries accepted but failed to come to an agreement due to differences of how to do this. After the end of the war India received the more productive part of Kashmir compared to Pakistan`s lands received, as it is stated in “Role of United Nations In Kashmir Dispute”. Later special status and internal economy were guaranteed in the state with central control in the defense, the foreign affairs and the communication.
Line of Control was founded in the beginning of 1949 (“Causes of Kashmir Conflict”). It is situated 50 000 meters above the sea level in a mountainous region. The Line of Control divides Kashmir to Indian-administrated to the east and south (9 million people) and Pakistani-administrated to the north and west (3 million people). Pakistan named its part Free Kashmir.
Religion was one of the main causes of the Kashmir issue. More of half of the population of Kashmir is Muslim, which made it the only Indian state with such proportion of Muslims. However the Valley has its own cultural identity – Sufism and is used to treating both religions equally. The main conflict comes from outside and it is more a religious issue that a territorial. Early rulers of Kashmir lead wrong policy according to the dominions, influenced by individual incentives rather than the collective wishes.
1947 was the year of the first collapse of the Indian-Pakistani relations, which evolved in two wars (in 1947-1948 and 1965) for Kashmir. Most of their battles ended without a winner. The only exception is the Bangladesh war in 1971 where Pakistan was completely defeated. India achieved this by backing and training Bangladeshi guerrillas as their allies. In 1999 fight over Kashmir, known as Kargil conflict, led to a new conflict but it did not turn into a war.
Nowadays the Indian-Pakistani conflicts are not over. As stated in “After partition: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh” the two counties are big nuclear powers in the modern world. Separatist militants break through the Line of Control frequently in order to disrupt the peace. In 2002 India positioned 700 000 troops and Pakistan 300 000 troops on both sides of the Line of Control, which is the internationally accepted shared border for both of them. Their armored, air and naval forces were prepared for a war. India was ready for an offence against the militants and Pakistan was ready to defend. The sharp Western policy`s diplomatic actions and a prevention from a nuclear war stopped Indian and Pakistan from being proactive.
In the early 1990s the Muslim separatists increased their number significantly. The pro-Pakistani Hizbul Mujahideen, suspected to be sustained by Islamabad, are the most significant one. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was the largest group of militants, proactive about the independence, until 1994 when they turned to politics. All-Party Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC) has a lot of followers among militants, desiring Kashmir to receive independence from India. Several militants` groups and the hard faction of APHC have proposed a tribute between Indian, Kashmiri and Pakistani representatives, but India has been refusing so far. The minded faction of APHC started bilateral talks with India in 2004. However there were complaints against India for not creating an atmosphere for dialogue as it was promised. The last talks between the two sides took place in 2006.
The Security Council of United Nation has left the Kashmir issue out of the list with disputes (“Kashmir issue left unmentioned in United Nations”). Jammu and Kashmir were not mentioned in the list of the unresolved long-running conflicts. Pakistan objected to this decision. The UK envoy to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant stated that there are other conflicts in the Middle East and other parts of the world, which the Council have been engaged with in the recent years.
According to Jamal Afridi Kashmir becomes a place of terrorism. Three active groups of foreign terrorists – Harakat ul-Mujahideen (based in Pakistan with supporters in Kashmir is responsible for hijacking an Indian airplane and attacks on Indian civilians in Kashmir), Jaish-e-Mohammed (wants to take in Kashmir into Pakistan and openly declared war to the United States), Lashkar-e-Taiba (one of the largest terrorist organizations, has taken responsibility for many attacks on Indian targets both in the Kashmir valley and India). Most of the Kashmir terrorists get in touch with Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists while they are trained together in Muslims seminars.
The Kashmir issue has been one of the biggest conflicts in the Far East since 1947. The Indian-Pakistani actions against each other over the years did not bring results. The geographical location and religious variety within the Kashmir valley make it an on-going issue. United Nation and the Western diplomacy can only cool the conflict in order to prevent the world from a nuclear war, but are powerless in solving the main problem. In such circumstances Kashmir has turned into a place of separatism and terrorism. Fanatic terrorists attack India in direct and indirect ways to show the world that Kashmir is a part of Pakistan. The Kashmir issue will probably remain unsolved after the United Nation has taken it out of the list of the long-running conflicts. No bright future is expected in the Kashmir valley