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Shown in green is the Kashmiri region under Pakistani control. The dark-brown region represents Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir while the Aksai Chin is under Chinese occupation


Kashmir is a region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The term Kashmir historically described the valley just to the south of the westernmost end of the Himalayan range. Politically, however, the term 'Kashmir' describes a much larger area which includes the regions of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The main "Vale of Kashmir" is relatively low and very fertile, surrounded by magnificent mountains and fed by many mountain streams flowing from adjoining valleys. It is renowned as one of the most spectacularly beautiful places in the world.

Srinagar, the ancient capital, lies alongside Dal Lake (which is itself connected to a number of other lakes) and is famous for its canals and houseboats. Srinigar (alt. 1,600 m. or 5,200 ft.) acted as a favoured summer capital for many foreign conquerors who found the heat of the north Indian plains in summer oppressive. Just outside the city are found the beautiful Shalimar gardens created by Jehangir, the Mughal emperor, in 1619.

The region is currently divided amongst three countries: Pakistan controls the northwest portion (Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir) (India calls these areas "Pakistan-occupied Kashmir" (PoK)), India controls the central and southern portion (Jammu and Kashmir), and the People's Republic of China has occupied the northeastern portion (Aksai Chin). Though these regions are in practice administered by their respective claimants, India has never formally recognized the accession of the areas claimed by Pakistan and China. Pakistan views the entire Kashmir region as disputed territory, and does not consider India's claim to it to be valid.

Occupier Area Population % Muslim % Hindu % Buddhist % Other
Pakistan Northern Areas ~3 million 99%
Azad Kashmir 99%
India Jammu ~9 million 30% 66% 4%
Ladakh 46% 50% 3%
Kashmir Valley 95% 4%
China Aksai Chin
Statistics from the BBC In Depth (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/south_asia/03/kashmir_future/html/default.stm) report

In the rest of this article, we will refer to the parts of Jammu and Kashmir administered by India, Pakistan and China respectively as "Indian Kashmir", "Pakistani Kashmir", and "Chinese Kashmir". Note that by this nomenclature, the word "Kashmir" in "Indian Kashmir" is used in a very general sense; more specifically, "Indian Kashmir" includes not only the Kashmir Valley (which is a proper part of Kashmir) but also Jammu and Ladakh (which are not parts of Kashmir per se, though they are parts of the overall region of "Jammu and Kashmir"). This may seem a little confusing if you are new to this subject, but after you read a bit more, we hope you will see that this nomenclature scheme makes a lot of sense.

Kashmir is one of the world's most well-known territorial disputes, and most Western made maps use a dotted-line to indicate the territory's uncertain boundaries.

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Market boats on Mar Canal, Srinigar by E. Molyneux; painted before 1908

Early history

The name Kashmir came to be applied to this region as a result of the activities of the Dogra princes. The Dogras are a predominantly Hindu people in the area around Jammu. Their kings paid tribute to the Sikhs, and were part of the Sikh Empire that arose following the collapse of the Mughal Empire. Under the Sikhs, as feudatories, the Dogras sought and obtained permission to push into Kashmir and the North, into Ladakh. Zorawar Singh Dogra led an expedition into Tibet in a failed effort to bring it to submission to the Sikh Empire, as a sub-feudatory of the Dogras. With the sudden collapse of the Sikh Empire before the English forces, the Dogras purchased from the British their independence, and thus also assured themselves of their feudal hold over the subsidiary kingdoms of Kashmir, Ladakh and the Emirates of the north. The Dogra kings who originally ruled only from Jammu, also began to operate in summer from Srinagar, the metropolis of Kashmir. As a result, the Dogra Kingdom developed into a sort of "Dual Monarchy", the Dogra Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmir is a valley whose beauty has been proclaimed by many and stretches out at about 7,200 square kilometers (2,800 square miles) at an elevation of 1,675 meters (5,500 feet). A Mughal ruler who built the famed Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir made the statement, " If heaven be on this earth, it must be here." It has a very ancient history and it was for a long time one of the centers of Hindu philosophical, literary and religious culture, a tradition still maintained by the native Hindu Kashmiri Pandit population. Kashmiri literature, sculpture, music, dance, painting, and architecture have had a profound influence in Asia. History, however, has witnessed the quick depletion of numbers of Kashmiri Pandits following incipience of Islamic rule; it is estimated that today at least a half million have fled from their homes in Jammu and Kashmir to other parts of India.

Partition, dispute and war

In 1935 (before Indian independence), British rulers compelled the Dogra King of Jammu & Kashmir to lease for 60 years parts of his kingdom; parts which went to make up the new Province of the North-West Frontier, in a move designed to strengthen their northern boundaries, especially from Russia.

In 1947, the British dominion of India came to an end with the creation of two new nations, India and Pakistan. Several princely states were reverted their sovereignity that they had ceded to the Kings of Britain by the subsidiary treaties.

Kashmir, which had a predominantly Muslim population, was one of these autonomous states, ruled by the Dogra King (or Maharaja) Hari Singh. Hari Singh preferred to remain independent and sought to avoid the stress placed on him by either India and Pakistan by playing each against the other.

Indo-Pakistani War of 1947

(main article at Indo-Pakistani War of 1947)

Not long after partition, Pakistani tribals from North Waziristan invaded Kashmir. It is alleged that the main reason behind this was the general violations of basic human rights of the Muslim majority of the state by the Dogra army; the actual cause was Pakistan's impatience to absorb the Dogra Kingdom.

This invasion was aggravated by the mutiny of the army in the northern province of Gilgit, led by the two British officers put in charge by the Hari Singh. They seized and kidnapped the Dogra prince, who was governor, and unilaterally declared the province a part of Pakistan.

The invading irregular Pakistani forces made rapid advances into North Kashmir (Baramulla sector). There were reports of widespread looting, abduction, rape, killings, and other atrocities committed by these tribal invaders on the population of parts of Kashmir they occupied. This forced Maharaja Hari Singh to ask the Government of India to intervene and put a halt to these atrocities. However, the Government of India pointed out that India and Pakistan had signed an agreement of non-intervention (maintenance of the "status quo") in Jammu and Kashmir; and although tribal invaders from Pakistan had entered Jammu and Kashmir, there was, until that point of time, no iron-clad legal evidence to unequivocally prove that the Government of Pakistan was officially involved, so it would be illegal for India to unilaterally intervene (in an open, official capaicity) unless Jammu and Kashmir officially joined the Union of India, at which point it would be India's unalienable legal and moral right to intervene militarily to defend the lives, honour, and dignity of its own people, and their cultural heritage, property, and territory.

The Maharaja would have preferred to stay independent to maintain his power and influence, but desperately needed Indian military help to protect his people and their property. However, India refused to intervene unofficially through irregular forces.

Before the arrival of Pakistani tribal invaders and Pakistani irregulars into Srinagar, Maharaja Hari Singh completed negotiations for acceding to India and receiving military aid in return. This agreement signed by the Maharaja and Lord Mountbatten, Independent India's first Governor-General ceded Kashmir over to India. Original Accession Document (http://mha.nic.in/accdoc.htm)

Pakistan claims that this accession is invalidated by a previous agreement between India and Pakistan, to maintain the "status quo"; India counters that the invasion of Kashmir by tribals aided and instigated by the Government of Pakistan, and reinforced by military regulars, had rendered that agreement null and void.

India also believes that the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India was not just the decision of the ruler Maharaja Hari Singh, but reflected the popular will of the people living in Jammu and Kashmir at that time. This is because of the fact that Sheikh Abdullah, the leader of the popular political party of Kashmir, the National Conference, shared the secularist views of Jawahar Lal Nehru, then Prime Minister of India, and favoured joining India over Pakistan.

The resulting war, the First Kashmir War, lasted until 1948, when India moved the issue to United Nations to ask Pakistan to vacate the occupied Kashmir. The UN imposed a cease-fire, and mandated a plebiscite among the entire Kashmiri population, subject to the withdrawal of all Pakistani forces, regular and irregular, and the plebiscite to be held under Indian auspices.

Aftermath of war

Pakistan, however, refused to abide this resolution. Pakistan's recalcitrance was strengthened by its alliance with USA against the Soviet Union, even as India allied with the USSR. A later resolution mandated a joint withdrawal, but it was never implemented.

The Treaty of Accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh and his heir, the Sardar-e-Riyasat K. Singh Dogra, was ratified by the popular parliament of the kingdom, dominated by the popular political party of Kashmir, the National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah. The Indian Government negotiated an autonomous status for the kingdom, and it was the only Indian province permitted to retain its own constitution, flag, anthem, etc.

Pakistan still asks for a plebiscite in Kashmir under the UN. However, India is no longer willing to allow a plebiscite, mainly because of the fact that the large parts of Kashmir that have been under Pakistani control since 1948 have been assimilated into Pakistan, as part of the Pakistani province called "Northern Areas". There are reports that since 1948, over the last 56 years, the Pakistani government has been settling non-Kashmiris from other parts of Pakistan (especially retired Pakistani Army personnel) in those areas, completely changing the demographics of the region, to the extent that the original (1948) inhabitants of Kashmir are now in a minority in their own homeland. The part of Pakistani Kashmir that has been kept "independent", the so-called "Azad Kashmir", is only a tiny sliver of land, a very tiny part of the parts of the original kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir that Pakistan occupied in 1948. On the other hand, Indian Kashmir has been protected from outside influence from other parts of India under Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which, for example, makes it illegal for a non-Kashmiri Indian to acquire property and settle in Jammu and Kashmir. (Kashmiri Indians are allowed to settle in any part of India).

The ceasefire line is known as the Line of Control (dotted line) and is the pseudo-border between India and Pakistan in most of the Kashmir region.

Map of Kashmir showing the Line of Control and disputed areas
Map of Kashmir showing the Line of Control and disputed areas

Sino Indian War

Disputes regarding the India-China border caused the People's Republic of China and India to initiate war in the Sino-Indian War in 1962. China had the upper hand throughout the war, resulting in the Chinese occupation of the region called Aksai Chin, as well as a strip along the eastern border. In addition to these lands, another smaller area, the Trans-Karakoram, was ceded to China by Pakistan in 1963 as a gesture of goodwill. The line that separates India from China in this region is known as the Line of Actual Control. [1] (http://edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/east/05/24/aksai.chin/)

1965 and 1971 Wars

In 1965 and 1971, heavy fighting again broke out between India and Pakistan. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 resulted in a defeat of Pakistan in East Pakistan (Bangladesh), and the capturing of 90,000 Pakistani soldiers by India in that region. The Simla Agreement was signed in 1972 between India and Pakistan. By this treaty, both countries agreed to settle all issues by peaceful means and mutual discussions. As a gesture of goodwill, India gave up the parts of West Pakistan and Pakistani Kashmir that she gained in the war, withdrawing to the Line of Control (and from Pakistani territories to the International Border in the Punjab sector) and also released all 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war taken in Bangladesh.

Modern Terrorism in Kashmir

In 1989, a widespread armed insurgency started in Kashmir, which continues to this day. India believes that a large part of these insurgents are Pakistani-trained terrorists. Letters, pictures, identity cards, and other documents recovered by the Indian Army from several captured insurgents and from the bodies of several dead insurgents in the last twenty-five years since widespread insurgency started in 1989, have confirmed that a large number of these men are not of Kashmiri origin, but have come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and various other places where radical Islam has gained ground, or Islamic insurgency or religious war in the name of Islam ("jihad") has been going on for some time.

Osama bin Laden and his international terrorist group Al Qaeda, which is known to work closely with a number of Pakistani intelligence officials, reportedly also with the knowledge and connivance with a number of powerful entities in the Pakistani government and Army, has been reported to be active in Kashmir. A number of insurgent groups active in Kashmir, such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), Hizbul Mujahideen, etc, have been recognised as terrorist groups with close connections to Al Qaeda, independently by major countries like USA, UK, France, Germany, Russia etc. In India's view, these entities are international terrorist organisations. India does not believe there is any similarity between this insurgency in Kashmir in the name of fundamentalist radical Islam, and a real and valid popular struggle for independence and self-determination, such as India's own movement for independence from British rule, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.

However, quite a few of the terrorists operating in Kashmir are of Kashmiri origin. Several of them, after being captured by the Indian Army, have confessed that they were contacted by Pakistani recruiters and went to Pakistan for arms training to become a terrorist, because this was the best means of employment available to them. The economy of Kashmir, which was based to a large extent on revenues generated by tourism (Kashmir is known as the "Switzerland of India" for its breath-taking natural beauty), has been badly damaged by Pakistani terrorism, so that things have now deteriorated to such an extent that some sections of Kashmiri youth find employment as a terrorist (which reportedly pays about five thousand rupees a month, with additional earning opportunities through drug-peddling, extortion, robbery, and distributing counterfeit Indian currency prepared by the Pakistani government) to be their only feasible option, other than, perhaps, begging or stealing.

However, in addition to people like the above, there are also many Kashmiri youths who are really interested in independence, and have indepedently chosen to go to Pakistan for training in terrorism. This is due to the following reasons. While earnings by Kashmiris from tourism have fallen drastically since insurgency started in 1989, India has been unable to compensate for that massive loss of income and improved standards of living in Kashmir, and many Kashmiris feel betrayed by the Government of India. Secondly, Kashmir, like the rest of India, and indeed all Third World countries, has seen a lot of corruption in the government, and electoral malpractice over the decades. While the rest of India is more patient in its expectations in the fight against corruption and electoral fraud, some Kashmiris are frustrated and feel alienated and victimized by a corrupt government far away in New Delhi.

India is making efforts to rectify the situation. Electoral malpractices have been reduced drastically in Indian elections following the introduction of several innovative security measures by a powerful and maverick Chief Election Commissioner, T N Seshan. Indeed, the last elections held in Jammu and Kashmir, in 2002, were acknowledged by international observers as having been exceptionally transparent, free and fair. Similarly, corruption is also being reduced in Indian society, with the spread of education, empowering the poor and the downtrodden who have been primary victims of corruption in society and government. The Indian youth, numbering 500 million, contains a large fraction of motivated individuals determined to transform their country into a developed one by the year 2020. They draw inspiration from the maverick President of India, A P J Abdul Kalam, who has made a habit of visiting impoverished villages, and schools all over the country, and spending time with young people, to motivate them to shed off the feeling of intellectual and financial poverty, and work towards success. A large fraction of motivated Indians believe that through their collective action, they will be able to overcome poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and corruption within their country in the coming decades, and realize the dreams Mahatma Gandhi, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Nehru, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rabindranath Tagore and other political and social leaders had in mind for the future of this great culture and ancient society.

India notes that 1989, the year major armed insurgency started in Kashmir, is the same year the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, and large numbers of Islamic fighters who had been engaged in fighting against the USSR, became available to Pakistan. It is too much of a coincidence to believe that none of these jobless fighters played a role in igniting violence in Kashmir, and yet, the insurgency started there at the same time.

Evidence recovered by India subsequently (as mentioned above) shows that a large fraction of those insurgents that have been captured or killed are from outside Kashmir. A disturbingly large fraction of them have served in Afghanistan under the leadership of Osama bin Laden. Two infamous Al Qaeda operatives, the "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, and the "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, are both known to have spent time training and fighting in Kashmir.

Nowadays it is considered an open secret that the so-called "Kashmiri insurgency" was mainly an effort masterminded by Pakistan's secret service, the ISI, with Pakistani, Syrian, Saudi, Libyan, and Afghan fighters; the same people, followers of Osama bin Laden against the USSR in Afghanistan till 1989 (it is believed that at that time Osama bin Laden was employed by the CIA to fight against Soviet Communism in Afghanistan).

Pakistan calls these insurgents, a large fraction of whom are of foreign origin, "Kashmiri freedom fighters" and claims that it gives only moral and diplomatic support to these insurgents, but no material support (guns, etc). However, international observers stationed on the line of control between Indian-controlled and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir have confirmed Indian claims that Pakistan regularly attempts to push insurgents trained in terrorist-training camps in Pakistan and Pakistani Kashmir, into the Indian side. The existence of these training camps is well-documented in pictures taken by Indian and US reconnaisance satellites, and has been presented to most major countries and international organisations.

Since 2001, major countries, like the USA, the UK, France, Russia, Germany, and many others, have regularly urged the Pakistani government to check "cross-border terrorism" and " infiltration" in Jammu and Kashmir, clearly indicating that they recognise that the terror in Indian Kashmir is exported from the Pakistani side. This is also corroborated by evidence collected by US and Indian reconnaissance satellites, aerial reconnaissance missions, radio communications monitoring, motion sensors and other electronic monitoring devices deployed along the international border and the Line of Control, and human observers, both Indian and international. Further corroboration is obtained from the patterns of terrorist activity: terrorism in Kashmir markedly falls during the winter when the mountain passes leading from Pakistan to Indian Kashmir become inaccessible due to heavy snowfall, making it difficult for Pakistan to send in human and material reinforcements into India. Further, terrorist activity in Indian Kashmir has fallen markedly after India recently erected a fence along large sections of the entire international boundary and the Line of Control.

The Line of Control

(Some people, especially those who have not been to Kashmir at all, may find it difficult to understand the complexities involved in the border and the Line of Control. For their benefit, the following clarification is provided.

The border and the Line of Control separating Indian and Pakistani Kashmir passes through some exceptionally difficult terrain. The world's highest battleground, the Siachen Glacier is a part of this difficult-to-man boundary. It is not feasible, and perhaps not even physically possible, for India to place enough men to guard all sections of the border, throughout the various seasons of the year. Large sections of the border and Line of Control are left totally unguarded for large portions of the year, making it possible for terrorists to cross undetected. This is why the Kargil Intrusion of 1999 was possible. This is why the boundary fence makes so much sense in this context.)

It is interesting to note that the Pakistani Government has been repeatedly claiming in recent years that the fencing by India along the Line of Control violates the Shimla Agreement. (India does not see any reason to justify this claim). This Pakistani protest perhaps indicates that the fencing has been somewhat effective in making it difficult for terrorism to be exported into Indian Kashmir.

In the last decade, Pakistan has been repeatedly watch-listed for state-sponsored terrorism by the US State Department, just one step removed from being clubbed with countries like Syria and Libya that are known sponsors of state terror.

In 2002 Pakistani President and Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf promised to check cross-border terrorism and infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir, and there are signs from time to time that he may be carrying out some of his promises. However, since then there have reportedly been three attempts by Pakistani terrorists to assassinate General Musharraf, and it appears that General Musharraf is encountering significant opposition from terrorist groups and from motivated sections of the Pakistani Army and secret service establishment in any attempts to stop killing innocent civilians in Indian Kashmir. It is also reported that large sections of officers in Pakistan's military establishment hold a grudge against India for having assisted the Mukti Bahini of Bangladesh in 1971 in its effort to secure the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistani rule in 1971, and view the terrorist operation in Kashmir with the goal to remove it from India as their act of revenge.

Since General Musharraf was the architect of the Kargil intrusion of 1999 that was instrumental in scuttling the solution to the Kashmir dispute that was being reached between then civilian Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan and India's then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, it is not clear to all Indians that General Musharraf is indeed sincere about wanting to solve the Kashmir dispute that has, in India's view, served the interests of the belligerent sections of the Pakistani defence establishment (and its partner in civil society, the fundamentalist religious parties espousing radical Islam) very well in their struggle for power against the moderate, progressive and peace-loving sections of Pakistani military and civil society for the last five decades since 1947.

Further, because of their conduct over the preceding years, both General Musharraf and the Pakistani military and spy establishment have acquired a reputation, in India's eyes, of reverting to terrorist practices whenever international attention shifts away from their activities. Hence, India is yet to trust that Pakistan has truly and finally decided to give up terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

Human rights abuse

Although matters have improved in Jammu and Kashmir following the opening of discussion between President Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the influential independent human rights agency Amnesty International has said in its most recent report, released on May 24, that violations continue, although they are unable to determine whether they have decreased because of security-related controls on their information gathering. The report said: "While the state admitted in 2003 that 3,744 persons had 'disappeared' since insurgency began in 1989, human rights activists believed the true figure to be over 8,000. No one had been convicted by the end of 2004." The agency, while noting that the repeal of controversial anti-terrorism act POTA was a step forward, pointed out that many members of the security forces accused of murder and rape had not been charged with the crimes. The 2004 US State Department Human Rights report also said ""Members of the security forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses", and also mentioned abuses committed by "separatist guerillas".

Recent developments

(see Terrorism in Kashmir)

Both India and Pakistan continue to assert their sovereignty or rights over the entire region of the former Dogra Kingdom. India considers all of Kashmir to be an integral part of India, and often makes statements domestically about acquiring the Pakistani half, known in Pakistan as ‘Azad’ (free) Kashmir. In international forums however it has offered to make the Line of Control a permanent border on a number of occasions. Officially Pakistan insists on a UN sponsored plebiscite, so that the people of Kashmir will have a free say in which country all of Kashmir should be incorporated into. Unofficially, the Pakistani leadership has indicated that they would be willing to accept alternatives such as a demilitarized Kashmir, if sovereignty of Azad Kashmir was to be extended over the Kashmir valley, or the ‘Chenab’ formula, by which India would retain parts of Kashmir on its side of the Chenab river, and Pakistan the other side. Besides the popular factions that support either parties, there is a third faction which supports independence and withdrawal of both India and Pakistan. These have been the respective stands of the parties for long, and there have been no significant change over the years. As a result, all efforts to solve the conflict have been futile so far.

In mid-1999, Islamic fighters from Pakistani Kashmir infiltrated and took control of the Kargil range overlooking the highway in Indian Kashmir, connecting Srinagar to Kargil and Leh in the east. Their objective was to sever the main Srinagar-Leh road which runs north-south in Indian Kashmir. Had they succeeded, they could have effectively cut Indian-held Kashmir in two, since, south of this highway, the inhospitable Zanskar Range prevents any communication between Kashmir proper and Ladakh.

Pakistani backed forces had occupied significant mountain peaks and constructed well-fortified defensive positions on them towards the end of the winter season, while Indian forces had withdrawn to lower altitudes (as is customary at such high altitudes where most human beings, except perhaps the very best mountaineers, cannot even survive at the height of winter, let alone be in a condition to fight a battle).

India became aware of the intrusion when search operations were launched after a 6-man patrol party of the Indian Army went missing. (It was found months later that the six men had been overpowered by the Pakistani intruders. Their severely mutilated bodies, bearing signs of heavy torture, eg., ripped-out eyeballs, severe burn and piercing injuries, etc., were returned to India by Pakistan Army, through the International Committee of the Red Cross. Pakistan Army and Pakistan denied any responsibility for the mutilation of the bodies.)

When the infiltration became known in the Indian media, there was a massive public uproar, and the Government of India deployed the Indian Army to dislodge the infiltrators. Air strikes were used to keep casualties low.

Some Indian aircrafts were shot down by the Pakistani infiltrators with Stinger missiles that had been originally been supplied by the CIA to the Pakistan secret service, the ISI, for use against Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980's. This displeased the USA, which had not intended such use (against India) for its Stinger missiles, and also exposed to the rest of the world the Pakistani Army's involvement in Kargil (till then, the Pakistani Government and Pakistani Army had been claiming that the people with guns on the border peaks were not Pakistani infiltrators at all, but native Kashmiris). Pakistan, which has always claimed that it gave moral and diplomatic, but never material support to Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri terrorists operating in Kashmir, was not able to explain how Stinger missiles supplied by USA to the Pakistani Secret Service (ISI) got into the hands of these so-called Kashmiris without any material involvement by Pakistan.

At the same time, fears of the Kargil War turning into a nuclear war, provoked the US President Bill Clinton to pressure Pakistan to retreat. The conflict ended with the withdrawal of Pakistani backed forces, with some irregulars allegedly being left stranded in the Kargil peaks, and India reclaiming control of the peaks which they now patrol and monitor at considerable cost.

It is claimed that the Kargil infiltration was ordered by the Pakistan Army without clearance of the civilian government. Prime Minister Sharif was blamed by the Army for forcing them to withdraw, though the withdrawal order was also seen as a ‘get out’ route for the military which was ill-equipped to deal with the operations political fallout. It is also alleged that humiliation caused to the Pakistani army by the episode was a significant factor in the overthrow of the civilian government a few months later by General Pervez Musharraf, the army chief who is alleged to have been responsible for instigating the Kargil operation.

The 9/11 attack on the US, resulted in it wanting to restrain militancy in Pakistan. The USA put diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to cease infiltrations by Islamic fighters into Indian-held Kashmir. However the Pakistanis argue that their national army of approximately 500,000 can in no way be better equipped to halt infiltrations of the Indian army, which is estimated to have between 300,000 and 500,000 soldiers based in Kashmir.

In early 2002, India sought to take advantage of America's new attitude by escalating its response to the attempted terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, resulting in war threats, massive deployment and international fears of nuclear war in the subcontinent.

After intensive diplomatic efforts by other countries, India started to withdraw troops from the international border, a move that was immediately reciprocated by Pakistan on June 10, 2002, and negotiations began again. Effective November 26, 2003, India and Pakistan have agreed to maintain a ceasefire along the undisputed International Border, the disputed Line Of Control, and along the Siachen glacier. This is the first such "total ceasefire" declared by both powers in nearly 15 years. In February 2004, Pakistan further increased pressure on Pakistani Muslims fighting in Indian held Kashmir to adhere to the ceasefire.

Claims to Kashmir


The Pakistani claim to Kashmir is based on the fact that the majority of Kashmir's population is Muslim. Since Pakistan was created as a nation for the Muslims of India, the leadership of Pakistan has always felt that Kashmir rightfully belongs to Pakistan. The Pakistani claim is also based on a belief that most Kashmiris would vote to join Pakistan, although this has never been proved or disproved.

The Indian claim centers on the agreement of the Maharaja to sign over Kashmir to India through the Instrument of Accession. It also focuses on India's stated secular ideology, an ideology that is not meant to factor religion into governance of major policy and thus imagines it irrelevant in a boundary dispute.

Approximately 170 million Muslims call India their home. India has the second largest population of Muslims on this planet; second only to that of Indonesia in size. The Pakistani Population Census Organization estimates Pakistan's entire population to be 153,141,000 as of February 2005.

India sees these 170 million Indian Muslims as people who rejected Muhammad Ali Jinnah's call for Partition on religious lines in 1947, and chose to stay in Secular India with their Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Parsi, Jewish, and Jain brothers and sisters rather than go to the new-born Islamic country of Pakistan.

Indians believe in Secularism, which is explained as follows. According to the Indian definition of Secularism, a Secular person does not have to be non-religious. He or she can be a devout Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Parsi, Jew, Jain, Buddhist, or Sikh. However, a secular person recognises that each religion is merely one path towards God, and no path is inferior or superior to any other path, as they all lead to the same place. A secular person thus does not disrespect, feel animosity towards, feel threatened by, or look down upon, religions or faiths different from his or her own.

Secularism is enshrined as a fundamental aspect defining India as a country in Her Constitution, which starts with the Preamble "WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and ..."

To Indians, religion is a personal matter; not a matter of State. Indians do not believe in Jinnah's Two-Nation Theory, which claimed that Hindus and Muslims cannot live together in peace in the same country. Indeed, the Two-Nation Theory is disproved by Indians on a daily basis, as Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, Jews and Christians of India demonstrate every day that Humanity is above Religion.

Thus, to India, Pakistan's claim to Kashmir based on no better reason than the fact that Kashmir has a Muslim majority population is ridiculous and insupportable; even more so because in 1947, when Kashmir still had a Muslim majority population, its popular leader, Sheikh Abdullah of its dominant political party, the National Conference, had unequivocally said that Kashmir would choose to join India, not Pakistan, refelcting the Sufi religious tolerance and secularism that has been part of Kashmir's history since time immemorial and lives in the heart and soul of most Kashmiris, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist; as opposed to the dogmatic and non-secular Wahabi/Sunni Islam represented by Pakistan. Indeed, the secular nature of Kashmiri Muslims and Hindus is exemplified by the fact that till 1947, Jammu and Kashmir was ruled by a Hindu King, Maharaja Hari Singh, even though an overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir were Muslim.

The Wahabi influence on Pakistan has apparently strengthened even more since 1947, due to the active efforts by the Saudi Wahabi sect to take Pakistan back to the Middle Ages.

It is reported that the population of non-Muslims in Pakistan has dropped from 18% in 1947 to 0.1% in 2005, allegedly due to widespread persecution of the religious minorities. Now that non-Islamic religious minorities are a rarity in Pakistan, it appears that the establishment has started looking for new minorities to presecute. Since 2003, there has been serious concern at the religious persecution of Ahmadiyyas, a non-mainstream Islamic group that has been excommunicated from Islam by the Pakistani establishment. Shia minorities in Pakistan reportedly feel threatened in an increasingly radical Sunni fundamentalist state, and Sufis are especially in danger, as fundamentlist Sunnis who consider music and dance to be un-Islamic (as exemplified by the conduct of the Emperor Aurangzeb of the Middle Ages, or the Taliban government of Afghanistan in more recent days) do not take kindly to the Sufi tradition of achieving peace and unity with Allah (God) through listening to and singing devotional music.

It is not clear to Indian admirers of Kashmir's Sufi culture and heritage that this Sufi tradition will be allowed to survive if Kashmir falls into the hands of Sunni/Wahabi followers of radical Islam who dominate Pakistan today.

The desecration and destruction of sacred Sufi shrines and religious artifacts by Pakistani terrorists is a cause of great concern. In 1993, the sacred Sufi Shrine, the Hazratbal Mosque which houses a sacred hair of the Prophet Hazrat Muhammad, was desecrated by Pakistani terrorists. It is reported that the Sunni/Wahabi sects of Islam who apparently dominate Pakistan today with Saudi support, do not approve of the respect with which the Sufis of Kashmir worship the Prophet Muhammad's hair; it is reported that in their opinion, it is too similar to "idol worship" done by Hindus, which is, in their opinion, very un-Islamic. A famous Sufi shrine, the Chrar-e-Sharif, the tomb of the great Sufi saint Sheikh Nooruddin Noorani, was destroyed by Pakistani terrorists in 1995. This shrine represented the secular ideals that united Kashmiri Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists in celebration of Humanity over Religion for centuries.

To India, the thought of letting Saudi-inspired and Saudi-funded fundamentalist Wahabi/Sunni Pakistani followers of radical Islam destroy the beautiful and culturally-rich Sufi Islamic culture developed by Kashmiri Muslims over the last one thousand years, a Sufi culture that is considered a vital part of India's cultural heritage as exemplified by the Quawwali style of music and Sufi devotional songs, is insupportable.

The richest man in India, Azim H. Premji, Chairman of Wipro Corporation, is a Muslim. Sufi cultural heritage, an important part of Islamic culture, was developed in India. India's most recognisable and well-known cultural artifact that every Indian is inestimably proud of, the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was built by the Muslim Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.

For these and many other reasons, Indians of all religions are proud to live in the same country with their secular and broad-minded Muslim brothers and sisters. When they see these Muslims living in Kashmir threatened, robbed, kidnapped, or killed by Pakistani terrorists on a daily basis, either as punishment for participating in Indian elections, or for not following Taliban-style dress codes (there have been disturbingly persistent media reports for a number of years that a number of Kashmiri Muslim girls have had acid bulbs thrown on their faces for not having worn a suitably long burqa as demanded by Pakistani terrorists, or for going to schools or colleges in violation of the role envisaged for them under the regressive Taliban/Wahabi ideology propagated by Pakistani terrorists in Kashmir), etc it is very difficult for them to accept this situation.

India sees the Pakistani-held territories as land illegally taken by Pakistan. The fact that Pakistan gave five thousand square miles of this Kashmiri/Indian land that it had forcibly occupied in 1948 to China in 1963, is even more difficult for India to understand or accept.

The fact that Nehru's family came from Kashmir made the issue important to him on a personal level, and he also hoped that Kashmir would serve as an example of a fully secular India (being the only Muslim majority province in the nation).

On the other hand, it appears to India that Pakistan, having been founded on the Two-Nation Theory propagated by its first Quaid-e-Azam (Prime Minister) Muhammad Ali Jinnah, feels a need to disprove the feasibility of Indian secularism and religious broad-mindedness and peaceful co-existence in order to justify its own existence.

India also notes that in the last six decades since Pakistan became independent in 1947, Pakistan has never managed to get a democratically elected government to ever complete a five-year term in office. There is a feeling in India that the Pakistani Army, together with a small group of Saudi-supported Sunni/Wahabi religious leaders, have always manipulated matters in Pakistan, and the common people of Pakistan have been fed a steady diet of anti-India rhetoric and religious hatred centred on the Kashmir dispute to keep them occupied while the powers-that-be in Islamabad mismanage the country.

There is some evidence to support the Indian view. Successive military governments in Pakistan have apparently acted to keep the Kashmir problem alive on multiple occasions. Some well-known instances are mentioned as follows.

In the 1970's, Pakistan's military chief, General Zia-ul-Haq deposed and hanged the then civilian Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had made great progress with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to solve the Kashmir problem based on mutual understanding and respect, as envisaged in the Shimla Agreement. Zia-ul-Haq, the military leader of Pakistan, removed the civilian leader Bhutto and killed him before the Kashmir issue could be solved.

A second well-known instance was in the late 1990's, when the civilan leader of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, was removed by the military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, when Sharif and the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee were close to solve the Kashmir issue based on mutual understanding and respect, as envisaged in the Lahore Declaration. Musharraf seized power and imprisoned Sharif, who was later exiled after his health seriously deteriorated during imprisonment. At the same time, Musharraf also completely jeopardized the peace process by making a disastrous and ill-planned military misadventure into the Kargil sector of India, leading to the Kargil War of 1999. The next two years, Pakistan-based terrorists organised suicide attacks on the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly in Srinagar, and on the Indian Parliament House in New Delhi. That led to serious deterioration of diplomatic ties. In recent years, however, Musharraf has been showing signs of being serious about peace, either due to US pressure, or having realised his duty towards the poor people of India and Pakistan, who would benefit immensely if both countries were able to stop this mindless military expenditure and attack the real enemies of the people of the Indian sub-continent: poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment.

Time will tell whether the People of the Sub-continent will rise up and tell their leaders to stop playing politics with Kashmir, and instead work to improve standards of living and take the high road towards social and economic development, so that the people of the sub-continent get their rightful place on the comity of nations.

The water dispute

Another valid reason behind the dispute over Kashmir is water. Kashmir is the origin point for many rivers including the Indus and its tributaries Jhelum and Chenab which primarily flow into Pakistan while other branches - the Ravi, Beas and the Sutlej irrigate northern India. Pakistan has been apprehensive that in a dire need India under whose portion of Kashmir lies the origins of the said rivers, would use its strategic advantage and withhold the flow and thus choke the agrarian economy of Pakistan. The Boundary Award of 1947 meant that the headworks of the chief irrigation systems of Pakistan were left located in Indian Territory. Essentially this is seen as a "veto" power held by India over Pakistan agriculture. In view of the plans to build a dam over Chenab, Pakistan has highlighted the plight, but on the other hand India has maintained that it cannot deny water to its own people whose mandate the government needs to be in power.

Many historians agree that the failure of Pakistan to take the much more fertile areas of Kashmir during the initial conflict (First Kashmir War) has cost them dear. This is because the area occupied by Pakistan is much less fertile and less strategic a point given India's unlimited access to the most critical mineral of all: water. The Kashmir issue thus is both about land and water.

Map issues

As with other disputed territories, each government issues maps depicting their claims in Kashmir as part of their territory, regardless of actual control. It is illegal in India to exclude all or part of Kashmir in a map. Non-participants often use the Line of Control and the Line of Actual Control as the depicted boundaries, as is done in the CIA World Factbook, and the region is often marked out in hashmarks, although the Indian Government strictly opposes such practices.

Tourist attractions

Missing image
The Vale of Kashmir, from Talmarg. Kashmir, India

Available to see in Kashmir are many house boats and boat taxis. There are many mosques serving the Muslim population, such as the Hazratbal Mosque, situated on the western banks of Dal Lake. The mosque is home to a holy hair belonging to the prophet Mohammed which was sent to Kashmir by the Moghul emperor Aurungzeb. It was badly damaged by Indian forces agedly trying to flush out militants. Thirty kilometers from Srinagar lies Chrar-e-Sharif, which is a holy shrine of the Muslim Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali. Originally constructed in 1395, Khanqah of Shah Hamadan is the first mosque ever built in Srinagar. There are also some Hindu temples. In addition, there is the claimed tomb of Jesus in the Rozabal section of Srinagar, visited by many. There is also the purported tomb of Moses on Mount Nebo (Nebo Bal). Recently a number of Jews have started to visit Kashmir to see the land where some lost tribes may have settled in antiquity.

See also

Further reading

  • Drew, Federic. 1877. “The Northern Barrier of India: a popular account of the Jammoo and Kashmir Territories with Illustrations.” 1st edition: Edward Stanford, London. Reprint: Light & Life Publishers, Jammu. 1971.
  • Neve, Arthur.(Date unknown). The Tourist's Guide to Kashmir, Ladakh, Skardo &c. 18th Edition. Civil and Military Gazette, Ltd., Lahore. (The date of this edition is unknown - but the 16th edition was published in 1938)
  • Stein, M. Aurel. 1900. Kalhaṇa's Rājataraṅgiṇī – A Chronicle of the Kings of Kaśmīr, 2 vols. London, A. Constable & Co. Ltd. 1900. Reprint, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1979.
  • Victoria Schofield, Kashmir in the Crossfire (London: I B Tauris, 1996)
  • Kashmir Study Group, 1947-1997, the Kashmir dispute at fifty : charting paths to peace (New York, 1997)
  • Knight, E. F. 1893. Where Three Empires Meet: A Narrative of Recent Travel in: Kashmir, Western Tibet, Gilgit, and the adjoining countries. Longmans, Green, and Co., London. Reprint: Ch'eng Wen Publishing Company, Taipei. 1971.
  • Navnita Behera, State, identity and violence : Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (New Delhi: Manohar, 2000)
  • Sumit Ganguly, The Crisis in Kashmir (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press; Cambridge : Cambridge U.P., 1997)
  • Sumantra Bose, The challenge in Kashmir : democracy, self-determination and a just peace (New Delhi: Sage, 1997)
  • Alastair Lamb, Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy 1846-1990 (Hertingfordbury, Herts: Roxford Books, 1991)
  • Prem Shankar Jha, Kashmir, 1947: rival versions of history (New Delhi : Oxford University Press, 1996)
  • Manoj Joshi, The Lost Rebellion (New Delhi: Penguin India, 1999)
  • Alexander Evans, Why Peace Won't Come to Kashmir, Current History (Vol 100, No 645) April 2001 p170-175.
  • Younghusband, Francis and Molyneux, E. 1917. Kashmir. A. & C. Black, London.
  • Drew, Frederic. Date unknown. The Northern Barrier of India: a popular account of the Jammoo and Kashmir Territories with Illustrations. Reprint: Light & Life Publishers, Jammu. 1971.
  • Moorcroft, William and Trebeck, George. 1841. Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Panjab; in Ladakh and Kashmir, in Peshawar, Kabul, Kunduz, and Bokhara... from 1819 to 1825, Vol. II. Reprint: New Delhi, Sagar Publications, 1971.
  • Anonymous. 1614. Baharistan-i-Shahi: A Chronicle of Mediaeval Kashmir. Translated by K.N. Pandit. [2] (http://www.kashmir-information.com/Baharistan/)

External links

Map Issues

cs:Kašmírské_údolí da:Kashmir de:Kaschmir es:Cachemira fr:Jammu-Kashmir gu:કાશ્મીર he:קשמיר ks:कश्‍मीर nl:Kashmir no:Kashmir ja:カシミール pl:Kaszmir sa:कश्‍मीर sd:कश्‍मीर sv:Jammu och Kashmir zh:克什米尔


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