The Territorial Dispute within the Kashmir Region

Fredrik Wille, India områdestudier, IKOS, UiO The Kashmir region is located in north of India and boarders Pakistan, The People’s Republic of China and Afghanistan. Which one of the countries that has the territorial rights of the area is an ongoing debate between Pakistan and India, a debate that has led to three bloody wars and several political altercations. Today India claims one hundred percentages of the rights to the area, while Pakistan disputes their demand debating that the region belong to them. The ongoing issue seems to be never ending, but what exactly is the backbone of these different claims and why have they not faced an agreement in over fifty years?

Background

Let us start out by viewing some very important history all the way back to 1947. The British rule in India ended with the introduction of The Indian Independence Act[1]; an act that divided India into The Union of India and The Dominion of Pakistan the latter later evolving into a Islamic country. According to this act the different states had the option of choosing whether they wanted to be a part of India or Pakistan. However in Kashmir the majority of the population is Muslim and they have been since 1947, even though the region was back then ruled by a Hindu named Maharaja Hari Singh[2].

October 1947 a Muslim revolution occurred in western Kashmir[3] with the goal of liberating the habitants, leaving the Maharaja with no choice but signing an annexation to India. The document was named “Instrument of Accession” and was quickly accepted by the Indian government granting them control over the Kashmir region[4].

This was not well accepted by Pakistani tribes and the ongoing Muslim revolution and in return they decided to advance even further into the region and now the Maharaja of Kashmir faced military powers at his own door step. Desperately the Maharaja looked at India to assist, but declined the call for help until Kashmir was officially a part of India. All of the necessary documents were signed[5] and India started to progress into Kashmir with military aid, triggering the first of more wars to come.

Arguments by India

Several arguments have been made by India throughout the years, some better than other, but their main argument has not changed in fifty years; the Instrument of Assessment. The legal document proving that the leader of Kashmir signed the rights of Kashmir to the Union of India[6].  The contract was not only stated to be irrevocable, but also in consistence with the Government of India Act (1935), Indian Independence Act (1947) as well as all current international laws existing at the time[7].

India does not accept the concept of the “two-nation theory”; an ideology stating that the identity of a Muslim in India is the person’s religion rather than their ethnicity or spoken language[8]. The theory could argue in favor of Pakistan considering the amount of Muslims living in Kashmir today and throughout history, however the Indian Government considers Kashmir an integral part of India despite the fact that the majority of the inhabitants are Muslim[9].

Furthermore India has accused Pakistan of deliberately fueling terrorism and insurgency in Kashmir with the goals of creating instability in the region[10] and waging proxy warfare against India. The proxy warfare is argued to exist through the injection of weapons and economic support to terrorist groups in the area[11].

Arguments by Pakistan

The main dispute from Pakistan’s side of the story is the rejection of the Instrument of Accession. Pakistan criticizes the leadership of the Maharaja, stating that he was regarded as tyrant who used brute force to suppress the population[12] and that he had zero authority in determining the future of Kashmir. Furthermore Pakistan also draws attention to some circumstances in 1947 Kashmir; stating that the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession in duress and making claims that Indian forces were located in Kashmir before the legal document was signed[13].

A second main argument from Pakistan is that the population in Kashmir does not want to remain within India, suggesting that this is a sign that Kashmir would rather be independent or within Pakistan’s boarders[14].

Pakistan also accuses the Indian government of treating the population of Kashmir poorly, pointing towards a report by the UN which condemns India for its human rights violations in Kashmir[15].

The Situation Today

When we view the present situation it is easy to tell that not much have changed today, we don’t have to go further back than to 2010 to see that the situation in Kashmir is clearly not ideal. In June 2010 a series of protests by the Muslim majority called for demilitarization of Kashmir, a protest that Kashmir police and Indian military opened live fire upon resulting in 112 deaths[16].

During the aftermath of these protests Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that the Indian government is willing to grant autonomy within Kashmir if there is a consensus on the issue[17]. There is no doubt that this will put the people of Kashmir in a tricky situation considering that the country today is split between 67% Muslims and 30% Hindus[18], and in addition the possibility of a second Muslim revolution if Kashmir and Jammu become independent.

As of today there is no real solution to the problem in sight. Human rights are still broken, politicians are still arguing and other countries and legitimate organizations refuse to intervene, stating that this is a conflict between Pakistan and India alone. Hopefully the last war is fought over this region and the leaders of the involved countries can reason the situation out with a compromise.

Fredrik Wille er BA student ved India områdestudier, IKOS, UiO. Innlegget er skrevet som del av emnet SAS1500 – India: utviklingsland og stormakt.


[1] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/10-11/30

[2] http://www.jammu-kashmir.com/documents/harisingh47.html

[3] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/312908/Kashmir/214223/The-Kashmir-problem#ref673547

[4] http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,793895,00.html

[5] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/27/AR2008082703195.html?nav=rss_world

[6] http://www.rediff.com/news/1999/jun/01jk.htm

[7] http://web.archive.org/web/20070106084737/http://meaindia.nic.in/jk/19jk01.pdf

[8] The Oxford history of the British Empire: Historiography, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-924680-9, «… At the heart of the two-nation theory was the belief that the Indian Muslims’ identity was defined by religion rather than language or ethnicity …»

[9] Hardgrave, Robert. «India: The Dilemmas of Diversity», Journal of Democracy, pp. 54–65

[10] http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/04/17/pakistan.india.talks/index.html

[11] http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/17/world/india-renews-call-for-us-to-declare-pakistan-a-terrorist-state.html

[12] http://www.pakistanarmy.gov.pk/AWPReview/TextContent.aspx?pId=159&rnd=460

[13] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1762146.stm

[14] http://www.ajk.gov.pk/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2471&Itemid=2

[15] http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/02/09/india-hold-abusers-kashmir-accountable

[16] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/12/world/asia/12kashmir.html?_r=0

[17] http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-08-11/india/28297162_1_autonomy-jammu-and-kashmir-bjp-questions

[18] http://www.censusindia.gov.in/Tables_Published/Basic_Data_Sheet.aspx

1 Comment on The Territorial Dispute within the Kashmir Region

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