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Kashmir Issue

Kashmir Issue

A Summary

“The history of liberty is a history of resistance.”(Former US President Woodrow Wilson)

Location

Located in the heart of Asia, with historical links to both South and Central Asia, Kashmir shares borders with India, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and with a small stripe of 27 miles with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It is the only nation in the world which shares its borders with three nuclear powers – India, Pakistan and China.

Area

86,000 square miles, more than three times the size of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg combined. Larger than 103 sovereign countries.

It is also larger in size than the following 35 members countries of the United Nations combined: Antigua & Barbuda; Bahamas; Bahrain; Barbados; Brunei Darussalam; Cape Verde; Comoros; Cyprus; Dominica; Gambia; Grenada; Holy See; Jamaica; Kosovo; Lebanon; Luxemburg; Maldives; Malta; Mauritius; Micronesia; Monaco; Montenegro; Qatar; Saint Kitts & Nevis; Saint Lucas; Saint Vincent & the Grenadines; Samoa; San Marino; Sao Tome & Principe; Seychelles; Singapore; Tonga; Trinidad & Tobago; Tuvalu; and Vanuatu.

Population

20 million (estimate) including 2.0 million refugees in Pakistan and 2.3 million expatriates. Bigger than 129 independent nations.

Status

Historically independent, except in the anarchical conditions of late 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries, and when incorporated in the vast empires set up by the Mauryas (3rd century BC), the Mughals (16th to 18th centuries), and the British (mid-19th to mid‑20th centuries). All these empires included not only present‑day India and Pakistan, but other countries as well. Under the British raj, Kashmir had internal autonomy.

Cause of Dispute

India’s claim that Kashmir is its territory is based on nothing more than an Instrument of Accession that is said to be signed by the Maharajah in order to obtain India’s military help against a popular insurgency. This accession was conditional on a reference to a popular vote (not yet held) under impartial auspices. The Indian claim is rejected by the people of Kashmir. It has never been accepted by the United Nations, never legally validated.

As per the UNSC Resolution 47(1948) The Government of India should:

(a) When it is established to the satisfaction of the Commission set up in accordance with the Council’s resolution of 20 January that the tribesmen are withdrawing and that arrangements for the cessation of the fighting have become effective, put into operation in consultation with the Commission, a plan for withdrawing their own forces from Jammu and Kashmir and reducing them progressively to the minimum strength required for the support of civil power in the maintenance of law and order;

(b) Make known that the withdrawal is taking place in stages and announce the completion of each stage;

(c) When the Indian forces shall have been reduced to the minimum strength mentioned in (a) above, arrange for consultation with the Commission for the stationing of the remaining forces to he carried out in accordance with the following principles:

(i) That the presence of troops should not afford any intimidation or appearance of intimidation to the inhabitants of the State.
(ii) That as small a number as possible should he retained in forward areas.
(iii) That any reserve of troops which may he included in the total strength should he located within their present base area.

Amnesty International Report 2016-17

The killing of a leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen armed group in July sparked widespread protests. More than 80 people, mostly protesters, were killed in clashes and thousands injured. At least 14 people were killed and hundreds blinded by [Indian] security forces’ use of pellet-firing shotguns, which are inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate. [Indian] Security forces used arbitrary or excessive force against demonstrators on several occasions. In August, Shabir Ahmad Monga, a lecturer, was beaten to death by army soldiers.

The Jammu and Kashmir government imposed a curfew which lasted over two months. Private landline, mobile and internet service providers suspended their services for weeks on orders from state authorities. The communications shutdown undermined a range of human rights. Residents reported being unable to reach medical assistance in cases of emergencies.

In July, the state government prevented the publication of local newspapers in Kashmir for three days. In September, Khurram Parvez, a Kashmiri human rights defender, was arrested and detained for over two months on spurious grounds, a day after he was prevented from travelling to a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Switzerland. In October, the government ordered a Srinagar-based newspaper to cease printing and publication on vague grounds. Hundreds of people, including children, were placed in administrative detention. Dozens of schools were set on fire by unidentified people.

Possible Solutions

Kashmir Issue1. International border

One option suggested for Kashmir is to put the current division of the area on a more official footing, by turning the line of control between India- and Pakistan-administered Kashmir into an international border. There are indications that India might accept this solution. Several Indian political parties have backed it, as has the former chief minister of Indian-administered Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah. However, such a plan would be unacceptable both to Pakistan and to many Kashmiris living on either side of the Line of Control.

2. Let Kashmiris choose

Another straightforward solution would be the implementation of United Nations resolutions on Kashmir, leading to a plebiscite which would give Kashmiris the choice of either Indian or Pakistani rule.

Fatally, for this plan, India is unlikely to walk into the almost-certain embarrassment of losing the vote. Equally important for India, there are fears that a plebiscite on Kashmir’s future could set a precedent, fuelling the calls for similar referendums which are already being heard in north-eastern states, Punjab and even in the south.

Neither would all Kashmiris be happy to be given a choice of rulers. Many would want the third option of an independent Kashmir.

3. Independence

The creation of an independent state of Jammu and Kashmir would have its own problems. The argument for self-determination is essentially that historically Kashmir was an independent entity until its incorporation into the Mughal Empire in 1586.

The leader of the pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Amanullah Khan, suggests a five-phase formula for independence, to be overseen by a UN committee comprising representatives from a wide variety of countries. Such a committee would work toward a referendum in 15 years, following a phased withdrawal of troops by both countries and the disarming of Kashmiri freedom fighters.

Even within Kashmir, however, a plebiscite leading to independence would not be welcomed by all.

4. Religious segregation

In 1950 the Australian diplomat Sir Owen Dixon put forward a plan to redraw the boundaries of Kashmir on religious lines. He saw the river Chenab as a natural border.

This would have meant that most of the Muslim-dominated areas of what is Indian-administered Kashmir would go to Pakistan, but the Hindu-dominated area would have remained with India.

The plan met with opposition from those with pro-independence sentiments, but it had a more serious flaw. The large wave of migration caused by the imposition of such a border would involve the displacement of many thousands of people, which could itself lead to violence.

It seems unlikely that the international community would back a plan of this sort, which would involve segregation of Hindus and Muslims who have been living for a long time as neighbours in many areas. As many as 800,000 people might be uprooted as a result of such a partition.

5. Partition

The United States and Britain had urged India and Pakistan to search for a partition solution in the mid-60s, soon after the Indo-China war.

The United States supported the creation of an independent Kashmir valley, but Britain feared that Russia and China would immediately exert communist influence over the new sovereign state.

The Soviets were also against an independent Kashmir, fearing that the US would hold sway there and use it as a base.

The talks also discussed the partition of Kashmir valley, but ultimately failed. They were followed by the outbreak of war.

6. The Andorra model

In 1998, a Kashmiri-American businessman assembled a group of western policymakers and academics to set up the Kashmir Study Group. The group soon published a set of possible resolutions, including an innovative arrangement on the pattern of Andorra, the tiny state which lies on the borders of France and Spain.

It involved the reconstitution of part of Jammu and Kashmir as a sovereign entity, in the same way as Andorra, with free access to and from both of its larger neighbours. The part of the state which was to be reconstituted would be determined through an internationally-supervised agreement involving the Kashmiri people, India and Pakistan.

The resulting entity would have its own secular, democratic constitution; distinct citizenship; a flag; and a legislature which would pass laws on all matters other than defence and foreign affairs.

The proposal relies on India and Pakistan overseeing the defence of the Kashmiri entity, and jointly working out its funding.

There would be no change in the present line of control, but the whole entity would become a demilitarised zone.

The plan does not try to avoid a particularly important question which has dogged the Kashmir dispute: the politics of ego and prestige attached to the claim on the area. Any real solution to the Kashmir problem would have to be immune to the suggestion that it amounted to a defeat for either of the warring neighbours.

Involving as it does no movement of borders, the Andorra proposal has at least the potential to secure both sides a limited measure of control over the entire Kashmir region, and attain for both populations a sense of victory. The feelings of Kashmiris too would be assuaged to a great extent. It may be the only possible solution in sight.

Great Power Policies

When the dispute was first brought to the United Nations, the Security Council, with the firm backing of the United States, Great Britain and France urged the solution that the future of Kashmir shall be decided in accordance with the wishes and will of the people.

Likely Possibilities

Only two. Either ascertaining the wishes of the people about their future or the continuance of the status quo with violent repression and carnage in the Indian‑occupied part and chronic conflict and the danger of nuclear war in the subcontinent of South Asia.

Immediate Necessity

The intervention of the international community to bring the violence in Kashmir to a quick end. Initiation of a political dialogue between the genuine Kashmiri leadership and the Governments of India and Pakistan to set the stage for a democratic and peaceful solution. And an appointment of a person of an international standing like Bishop Desmond Tutu or Kofi Annan as a special envoy on Kashmir.

Conclusion

The world powers, including the United States can, and should, lead the effort to achieve a fair and lasting settlement of the dispute ‑ fair to the people most immediately involved and fair to its own commitments to democracy and human rights. By doing so, the United States can strengthen the principles of a just world order. It will also earn the gratitude of generations in Kashmir, in Pakistan and even in India itself.

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