The Kashmir conflict is a regional dispute between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir territory, a region in South Asia. Pakistan controls almost 37 percent of Kashmir, which includes Azad Kashmir, Baltistan and Gilgit situated in the northern region. China controls approximately 20 percent of the area encompassing Aksai Chin (Bose, 2005 p.13). It occupied this region after the short-lived Sino-Indian War of 1962. According to India, Kashmir region is a significant part of the nation, although after the 2010 Kashmir unrest the Indian Prime Minister put forth that the government was ready to grant its independence within the purview of Indian constitution only if there was an agreement on this matter. On the one hand, Pakistan believes that Kashmir is a disputed region and its citizens are in the best position of determining the territory’s status. China, on the other hand, puts forth that Aksai Chin as a fundamental part of the state and its annexation to Kashmir territory is not identified.
However, particular independent groups in Kashmir deem that the region should be sovereign of both Pakistan and India. These countries have fought around three wars pertaining to the Kashmir territory, hence encompassing the Indo-Pakistan Wars of 1947, 1965 and 1999 (Johnson, 2005, pp. 12-16). Furthermore, the two countries have also been involved in various battles pertaining to the Siachen Glacier. These skirmishes have resulted to diverse impacts including deaths, though they have become less severe in the contemporary society. Since 1989, there have been various Indian movements,administered with an objective of voicing the Kashmir’s grievances and disputes with the Indian government, particularly the Indian military. This paper will focus more on the Kashmir conflict and assess various aspects including causes, consequences and resolution of this burning issue amongst others.
Reasons Behind the Kashmir Conflict
Both India and Pakistan have made various claims to Kashmir, basing it on religious affiliations and historical developments of the Kashmiris. Kashmir and Jammu state situated tactically in the northwest bordering wth the former Soviet Union and China was a sizeable state reined by Maharaja Hari Singh (Ganguly, 1997, p. 30). In the legal and geographic terms, Kashmir may join either India or Pakistan. However, this has not taken place yet, and Kashmir has turned out to be a region of conflict between the South Asian states. Some of the reasons behind the Kashmir conflict are explained herein.
One reason for the Kashmir conflict is a dispute over water. It is apparent that Kashmir region is satiated with tributaries and rivers of the Indus River basin. It encompasses the Chenab and Jhelum rivers that principally flow into Pakistan, whereas other branches such as the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi irrigate northern India. In 1947, the Boundary Award revealed that headwaters that irrigate Pakistan were in Indian region, and for this case, Pakistan was worried that India could withhold the flow and consequently agrarian Pakistan’s economy. Nevertheless, the majority of these water disputes were resolved by the Indus Waters Treaty that was signed in 1960 calling for mutual cooperation (Webb et al., 2000, p. 23). However, Pakistan raised various matters regarding the building of dams in the Indian territory that could inhibit water flow to the Pakistan region, this was a challenge to the treaty.
The line of control and border that separates Pakistani and Indian Kashmir passes through an extremely hard terrain including the Siachen Glacier, the globe’s highest battleground. India claims that it is difficult to guard the border despite the number of military personnel available to do the same. On the other hand, Pakistan has indirectly agreed its responsibility in failing to stop cross-border terrorism when it acquiesced to curtail such actions after the extreme pressure of 2002 from the Bush administration (Bose, 2005, pp. 45-49). According to the Pakistani government, India is infringing the Shimla Accord by building a fence on the border. On the other hand, India believes that the building of the fence on the border has assisted in decreasing the armed intrusion into Indian-administered Kashmir.
Pakistan accuses India of playing false and deliberately ignoring the agreement for the sake of the Kashmir self-determination. Based on the theories derived from the division of land between the two nations, the partition that brought India and Pakistan into existence, and then, Kashmir should have fallen into the Pakistan side since it has more Muslim population. Pakistan also insists that the continued insurgence witnessed in Kashmir is enough to prove that the people of Kashmir do not want to remain with India, and therefore, they want either to be independent or to be part of Pakistan (Bose, 2005, pp. 45-49). Pakistan blames India for not enforcing the United Nations resolutions, whereby both nations would preside over a plebiscite, so that the Kashmir’s would determine whether they want to join Pakistan to India or remain independent (Webb et al., 2000, pp 24-30). According to Pakistan, many protests organized by the people of Kashmir indicate that it rejects the notion of being part of India. The use of military to quell insurgents and other malcontents also points at the unwillingness of Kashmir to join India. The United Nations condemnation of human rights violations by India in Kashmir has tilted the balance of the Pakistan’s favor. Pakistan views the combination of all these factors as a clear indication that the people of Kashmir have never wished to be part of India, but it has refused to accept reality even when everybody can vividly see that Kashmir wants to be independent
While Pakistan leveled a lot of blame for the crisis, India on the contrary perceived its actions as justified since Kashmir was viewed as part of its territory. India was basing its argument on the instrument of Accession that was signed by ruler of the Kashmir at the time of partition of territory by the British. During that time, the Kashmir ruler was Maharaja and the agreement was signed in 1947 as he sought for support from India to fight the malcontents in Kashmir. This agreement acceded Jammu and Kashmir to India. India also argues that the United Nations Security Council calls for the mutual resolution of the conflict through dialogue and recognizes India stand on matters regarding Kashmir (Johnson, 2005, pp. 24-26).
India views this as an important aspect since it shows that the United Nations does not disregard the 1947 treaty, a thing that is butted by Pakistan. India also bases its argument on the fact that Kashmir is a part of its territory since it is even embedded in its Constitution that the state of Kashmir and Jammu are semi-autonomous. India also brings out the point that it is impossible to conduct a plebiscite with the presence of the Pakistani forces in the region that has frustrated the whole process. The equation is also complicated by the fact that India recognizes that a country of its size and people of diverse origin make it illogical to expect that things would run smoothly without discontentment, and that it is ready to solve its problems without external assistance. This has been a move to deter any interested parties from engaging India into a dialogue with Pakistan. It has pointed out that the Pakistan controlled Kashmir, hence it continues to suffer from lack of political freedom, violation of human rights and economic underdevelopment. India therefore considers Kashmir as an integral part of the territory, although it has allowed some form of political freedom.
Human Right Abuses in Kashmir
Many international agencies have pointed out that many human rights abuses in Kashmir, especially the Indian, controlled the section. The United Nations has also been in the forefront in reporting and condemning the human rights abuses. This has been more of a consequence than a cause of the Kashmir crisis. The international human rights groups that have been very vocal in reporting about the Kashmir dire human rights situation include Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch (Ganguly, 1997, p.39). Owing to these groups, the world becomes aware of the massive torture of divergent organizations, extra judicial killings, murder and disappearance of individuals who are suspected of fuelling the conflict by either incitement’s in direct participation. Detentions use of oppressive laws has been the order of the day and this has made Kashmir one of the most dangerous places to live in the world.
Al Qaeda Involvement in the Crisis
The Al-Qaeda involvement in the crisis has made the situation in Kashmir to be very volatile as the group is well organized and very hard to fight against. In fact, the participation of the group in the Kashmir crisis has sparked unprecedented loss of lives as the Indian government is more often hitting the wrong target. This has also made India carry out extremely meticulous actions towards Kashmir, sometimes going to the point of applying very stringent measures in dealing with the insurgents (Schofield, 2000 pp. 60-69). The international community has become an even more interested party after the United States Special Forces subdued in killing the Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden who was reported to have been living in Pakistan for quite a long of time. This has made India blame Pakistan for harboring terrorist groups which operate from Pakistan and are shielded by the Pakistan government.
Effects of the Kashmir Conflicts
In the current times, Kashmir has been characterized by increased violence and in the last two decades, its conflict has resulted to irreversible loss of property, life and indescribable harm to the women. In a combat situation, the state authorities employed strict measures including search operations, curfew, third degree torture and arrests that imposed devastating impacts upon the native people, especially women. In Kashmir, female community has been subjected to sexual harassments, punishments, intimidation, coercion, humiliation and degradation particularly by the security forces. Nevertheless, such crimes committed by security agencies were not noticed due to the fact that the victims used to fear social stigma. The conflict led to disruption in job opportunities, education, mental disorders and overall development. Furthermore, the research indicated that psychiatric morbidity amongst patients rose from nine to twenty five percent in 1995.
The Kashmir Conflict Resolution
If there is something that has kept India and Pakistan relations in a constraint, such as a malady that has proved difficult to treat and an issue that has always jeopardized the lives of many Kashmiri people, then definitely it is the Kashmir conflict. There have been moves and counter-moves, actions and reactions as both parties try to get as much international support as possible and to have as much influence in Kashmir as can be practically probable (Ganguly, 1997, pp. 57-68). Kashmir has been a cause of disagreement since 1947, when India gained its independence from the Britain. When the United Kingdom was partitioning the land between the two parties, it gave the better part of the spoils to the India. In addition to this, during the process of dividing the land, the state of Jammu and Kashmir were led by Majarata, the son of Gulab who bought the entire region he owned from the British under the treaty of 1946. This happened due to the fact that many of the Kashmiris were Muslim and it was thought that Kashmir would join the newly created state of Pakistan. However, it didn’t happen as some insurgents, Kashmiris from the Azad region, joined other tribal groups from the Western part of Pakistan which were determined to see that Kashmir finally belonged to Pakistan. Triggered by such guerilla offensive from the ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja sought after the assistance from the governor general of India, Lord Mountbatten. However, Mountbatten’s help came at a cost and a condition that the ruler would join India.
Consequently, it sparked off the first war over Kashmir between Indian and Pakistan that continued until 1949, when the United Nations, a body that had been newly created to preserve the world peace, intervened and arranged for a ceasefire. The United Nations also presided over the creation of temporal bounder lines to demarcate the region to be controlled by each state, that is both India and Pakistan controlled Kashmir. As it can be observed, this was not a solution, which could eliminate the malady. In fact, it precipitated unprecedented suspicion and rivalry between the two nations. Subsequently, Indian prime minister took the matter to the hands of the Security Council of the newly created United Nations.
The Security Council came out with a resolution that the people of Kashmir had a right to decide which nation to join. India and Pakistan were to preside over a plebiscite so that the Kashmiris could air their voice of which nation between the two they wanted to choose. This did not seem to augur well for the Indian Prime Minister Nehru, who though the decision would have been in his favor. As a result, he promised to destroy Indian control over Kashmir and Jammu and grant independence when the dispute would be settled. However, this was just a strategy that was meant to cool down the heat as Nehru never kept his promise. The resolution to hold a plebiscite was not honored and India continued to view the Kashmir as a part of the larger Indian nation. Any move that would successfully lead to a plebiscite was brutally quelled by the Indian government as matters relating to Kashmir were now viewed as an internal Indian problem. With internal malcontents continuing to increase and with each country supporting its faction another war was hard to avert and in 1965, there was another Indo-Pakistani War. The discontentment has increased by the day as the prime goal of self-rule was determined in the heart of every Kashmiri. Over the years, the dissatisfaction has come to the point where the Kashmiri people have organized armed struggle to pursue a common goal of challenging the Indian occupation. India has retreated by deploying its army to quell any form of resistance.
Efforts to End the Crises
After thorough diplomatic efforts by various nations, Pakistan and India started to pull out their troops on the global border in 2002, and furthermore, the negations began again. In 2003, Pakistan and India settled on maintaining a ceasefire along the Siachen glacier, the disputed line of control and the undisputed international border. In 2004, Pakistan amplified pressure for the Pakistani who were battling at the Indian-administered border to abide with the help of the ceasefire. The bus service that was restarted between Pakistan- and India-administered Kashmir has assisted diffuse in the pressures between nations (Ganguly, 1997, pp. 81-89). Both Pakistan and India have agreed on economic front’s cooperation. In 2006, Pakistani President put forth that his country was ready to relinquish its claim about Kashmir, only when India agreed to take in certain peaceful proposals, encompassing self-governance of the local people, withdrawing its troops, creating a mutual supervision mechanism including Pakistan, India and Kashmir, and employ no modifications in the Kashmir borders.
Current State of Affairs
Currently, the state of affairs in Kashmir is not determined. For instance, Kashmir territory and the irreconcilable stance of India and Pakistan define the contemporary Indo-Pakistani relationship. India claims that Kashmir rightfully belongs to it because India is a secular country. In addition, India has an official intention of allowing Kashmir a referendum to decide on whether they would like to be a part of India or other way round. The Indian government has not yet decided, for instance, if they allow secession. Thus, there is a question – how will they ensure that other states including Pakistan leave Kashmir? In relation to this, India has a non-negotiable and inflexible position concerning Kashmir (Ganguly, 1997, pp. 82-90).
On the other hand, Pakistan defines itself by its conflict with India and it feels cheated about its rights over Kashmir. Pakistan claims that Kashmir is a Muslim majority state that means that if Kashmir people were given an opportunity to accede in 1947, they would have chosen to belong to Pakistan. With this regard, Pakistan is vehement and uncompromising about its right to Kashmir, thus it is actively pursuing this equity (Ganguly, 1997, pp. 85-97).
The only solution that can salvage the situation in Kashmir is that the international community of the United Nations is aimed to provide a platform over which India and Pakistan would compromise their standoff. They should negotiate for the way forward bringing into Kashmir by giving them a choice to decide through a fair and free referendum which side they would like to belong to. This is the only way forward in order to achieve lasting peace in this beautiful region of the world.
The Kashmir crisis has proved to be one of the most difficult crises to solve due to emergence of technical difficulties that frustrate any move to contain. This has been contributed by a great deal of the unwillingness of Pakistan and India to compromise and arrive at an amicable solution regarding Kashmir. The declaration of India states that it is impractically impossible for it to succeed its Kashmir controlled area. It means we are not going to see a solution, not in the near future. Pakistan has also refused to remove its military from the area it controls for the fear that India may be tricking it. The equation has been compounded by the fact that the International Community and more importantly the United Nations have been incapable of finding a long-lasting solution to the crisis. This leaves the matter in the hands of the Indian and Pakistani governments, which must readjust their positions if any solution to redress the issue is ever going to be found out. Kashmir desire to become fully independent should not be also ignored as it appears to be the most palatable answer.