September 11, 2012
Conflict over Kashmir
In late 1947, the newly created states of India and Pakistan went to war over the valley of Kashmir. The United Nations ordered a ceasefire that divided the state into Indian and Pakistani controlled territories, and the people of Kashmir would be able to choose to join either country. India granted its portion of Kashmir a special status within its constitution, allowing for a great degree of self-government. However, the government of India has dissolved successive Kashmiri governments, and elections have only been held in the presence of its armed forces. In 1965, Pakistan and India waged a second indecisive war over Kashmir. In the 1980s, resistance within Kashmir itself against the Indian government took on a violent nature, with guerilla attacks against Indian army bases. India responded with heavy army suppressions, and since then the situation has only escalated and get worse. It is estimated that well over 34,000 people have died within the valley, and the relations between the two countries have become increasingly hostile. India blames Pakistan for the militant uprising, claiming Islamabad is supporting cross border terrorism. Pakistan responds that it only provides diplomatic and moral support, arguing that India’s history of human rights abuse in the valley is to blame. With both countries now in possession of nuclear arms; the recent war in KARGIL and the increasing number of civilian deaths, refugees, and other human rights issues within Kashmir, the conflict seems to be taking on a more serious nature. In this paper, I will discuss the Kashmir conflict in some depth, examining the problem in its historical context and assessing whether there is sufficient political will at present to resolve the dispute. Within a few days of the division of the Indian subcontinent in August 1947, nearly all of the 565 Princely States including the State of Jammu and Kashmir were given the option either to join Pakistan or India (Security, 2011). The case of the Princely State of Kashmir, however, is one that remains unresolved after more than fifty years of conflict. The U.N. mandated referendum has never taken place, and the history of the various regions of Kashmir has proceeded in a conflicting manner since the division of the state along what is now known as, the Line of Control. A new government was formed under the populist leader of the National Conference, Sheikh Abdullah known as the “Lion of Kashmir” (Iloveindia.com); Sheikh Abdullah was to become the most important politician in the history of the province. Upon becoming Prime Minister, he pursued a program of land reform in Kashmir, measures that were desperately needed by the Muslim peasantry, the majority of whom had been discriminated against during the years of Dogra rule. In 1964, there were brief hopes for peace. In July 1965, the Pakistan army launched “Operation Gibraltar” (Operation Gibralter: battle that never was), a plan that aimed to send infiltrators into Indian-occupied Kashmir to bring about a popular rebellion. The plan was a resounding failure. Few if any Kashmiris were interested in taking militant action against India, and the war that followed merely resulted in a standstill. It was clear that the Valley Muslims, while dissatisfied, felt that the political option had not been given a fair chance. Across the border, Pakistan granted a measure of self-government to the government of Azad Kashmir in an agreement in March 1949. Disagreements over independence continued however, until the implementation of the 1970 Kashmir Government Act. There still exist some tensions, but in general, Azad Kashmir’s demands have been focused on ensuring autonomy, rather than independence. Elections and Militancy
The 1987 elections, however, proved to be anything but free and fair. The 1987 elections transformed the face of Kashmiri resistance. With political options exhausted, the people...