Kashmir Conflict

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  • Topic: Kashmir, Pakistan, Kashmir conflict
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  • Published : May 20, 2008
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A Relationship of Relentless Hostility

A Brief Introduction:

Kashmir is bleeding. Ever since the partition of the Indian subcontinent by the British in 1947, India and Pakistan have been bitter rivals and the Kashmir conflict remains unresolved. During five decades, they have fought four wars. Three of those wars were over the disputed region of Kashmir (including the region of Jammu), which is divided by the “Line of Control”. “In 1947-1948, almost immediately after Independence, they fought a long and intense battle over the formerly independent state if Jammu and Kashmir; in 1965 they fought another war over the same piece of land; in 1971 the two engaged during the civil war that severed East Pakistan into the budding state of Bangladesh; and in 1999 they fought once more in the mountains of Kashmir. In addition to these actual wars, twice during the past fifty years the two countries have endured crises that brought them close to war” (Ganguly 2). But recently, tensions have abated and the leaders of Pakistan and India have embarked on a series of measures to resolve a spate of security issues, including the hot debate over Kashmir. At the current moment, the two neighbors have already enforced a total cease-fire between forces lined up on each side of the border. Their rivalries over five decades have prevented both countries from realizing their full economic and geopolitical potential. Since the 1990s, the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been hit by confrontation between the Indian army and Kashmiri separatists, including militants whom India alleges are supported by Pakistan. This has resulted in thousands of deaths and an unfair toll on the people of Kashmir. What led to these long term conflicts that cease to be resolved? I will discuss the socio-political aspects that brought Kashmir to its current state and the effects of those aspects.

Reasons Behind the Dispute:

What explains this unending stream of conflict between the two states? There is no scarcity in explanations for it, at both scholarly and popular levels. According to S.M. Burke, the writer of Mainsprings of Indian and Pakistani Foreign Policies, the conflict has a primordial basis and is rooted in the divergent and essentially antithetical world views of Islam and Hinduism. Another explanation underlying the Indo-Pakistani friction is the fundamentally deviating ideological commitments of the dominant nationalist elites in the Indian and Pakistani anti-colonial movements ( Ganguly 5). A third explanation underlying the conflict is Pakistan’s irredentist claim to Kashmir. (Hechter, 1999). As the assumed homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent, Pakistan sought to incorporate the Muslim-Majority state of Jammu and Kashmir into its domain. Pakistani leaders forcefully stated that they sought Kashmir’s merger into Pakistan to ensure “completeness” (Bhutto 68). India, committed to a vision of civic nationalism, sought to thwart this goal to demonstrate that all communities, regardless of their religious affiliation, could thrive under India’s secularism (Smith 97). So, at the time of Independence and Partition in 1947, two divergent conceptions of state-building animated the Indian and Pakistani nationalist movements.

The Indian claim to Kashmir centers on the agreement between the Dogra Maharaja Hari Singh, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Lord Mountbatten according to which the erstwhile Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir became an integral part of the Union of India through the Instrument of Accession. It also focuses on India's claim of secular society, an ideology that is not meant to factor religion into governance of major policy and thus considers it irrelevant in a boundary dispute. Another argument by India is that, in India, minorities are very well integrated, with some members of the minority communities holding positions of power and influence in India. Even though more than 80% of India's...
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