• 14 June 2024

Kashmir: A Look at its Complicated Past and Political Struggles between India and Pakistan

Jan 9, 2024

The Kashmir dispute, considered the oldest unresolved international conflict, centers on India’s forcible occupation of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. While India claims accession through a controversial Instrument of Accession, both the people of Kashmir and Pakistan dispute this, casting doubts on its existence. The United Nations recognizes Kashmir as a disputed territory, and the global community, excluding India, shares this view. The conflict involves territorial claims by India, Pakistan, and China, resulting in three wars and ongoing tension.

India controls 55% Pakistan 30%, and China 15% of the region, including Jammu, Kashmir Valley, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Aksai Chin.

Key Highlights

Historical Background: Despite the United Nations recommending a plebiscite to determine the state’s affiliation, it never materialized. Instead, a ceasefire line was established in 1949, creating Indian-administered and Pakistan-administered territories. The region has since witnessed armed revolts against Indian rule, with accusations from India of Pakistan supporting separatist militants.

Escalation with Article 370: Tensions escalated in 2019 with the revocation of Article 370, granting special autonomy to Indian-administered Kashmir. This move led to strong condemnation from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and suspended trade. India maintained that Article 370 was an internal matter.

Diverse Opinions and Concerns: Kashmir’s residents hold diverse opinions on allegiance, ranging from independence to union with Pakistan. Critics fear demographic changes due to the ability to acquire property, potentially altering the Muslim-majority state. Unemployment and alleged human rights abuses contribute to anti-India sentiment, intensified by events like the death of militant leader Burhan Wani in 2016.

Ongoing Tensions: Despite high hopes for peace in the 21st century, India-Pakistan relations soured. The BJP’s withdrawal from the coalition government in 2018 fueled unrest, while a 2019 suicide attack further heightened tensions. India blamed Pakistan-based groups and launched air strikes, maintaining the heavily militarized status quo.

Recent Developments: India’s parliamentary bill dividing the region into two territories faced objections from China and strong opposition from Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to challenge India’s actions internationally, seeking global intervention. The US offered mediation, but India rejected the proposition, leaving the Kashmir conundrum at a critical juncture.

Timeline of events

Kashmir Conflict Timeline: A Chronology of Tensions and Developments

1947-1949: The Birth of Conflict

  • 1947: Partition of British India leads to the creation of Pakistan and India.
  • 1947: Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir accedes to India, leading to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947-48.
  • 1949: Karachi Agreement establishes a cease-fire line, with a UN recommendation for a referendum in the territory.

1965-1972: Wars and Bilateral Agreements

  • 1965: Full-blown war erupts over Kashmir.
  • 1971: Indo-Pakistani War results in the creation of Bangladesh.
  • 1972: Simla Agreement establishes the Line of Control (LOC) and aims to normalize relations.

1989-1999: Insurgency and Kargil War

  • 1989: Insurgency supported by Pakistan begins in Indian-administered Kashmir.
  • 1999: Kargil War occurs after Pakistani soldiers cross the LOC.

2003-2014: Ceasefire and Brief Hopes for Peace

  • 2003: Ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan.
  • 2014: Narendra Modi invites Nawaz Sharif, raising hopes for peace talks.
  • 2014: Talks canceled after meetings between Pakistani envoy and Kashmiri separatist leaders.

2016-2018: Uri Attack, Surgical Strikes, and Continued Tensions

  • 2016: Uri attack leads to heightened tensions.
  • 2016: Indian military announces “surgical strikes” across the LOC.
  • 2017-2018: Attacks, cross-border shelling, and demonstrations persist.

2018-2019: Ceasefire Agreement and Article 370 Revocation

  • 2018: Ceasefire agreement reestablished between India and Pakistan.
  • 2019: Attack on Indian paramilitary convoy in Kashmir.
  • 2019: India revokes Article 370, sparking unrest and lockdown in Kashmir.

2020-2023: Escalation, Ceasefire, and Ongoing Concerns

  • 2020: Heightened violence along the LOC and increased militant recruitment.
  • 2021: Ceasefire agreement brings temporary relief.
  • 2022-2023: Crackdown on media, electoral map changes, and targeted killings in Indian-administered Kashmir.
  • 2023: Barbs exchanged at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, raising concerns.

2020-2022: China’s Involvement and Border Disputes

  • 2020: Clashes with China in the Galwan Valley.
  • 2022: Skirmish near the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • 2022-2023: Rising militarization due to fears of a two-front war with China and Pakistan.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the complex history of the Kashmir conflict, marked by wars, bilateral agreements, insurgencies, and ongoing geopolitical tensions. The situation remains dynamic, with concerns about regional stability and the potential for a severe military confrontation between India and Pakistan.

Key Highlights

  • Historical Independence of Jammu and Kashmir: Jammu and Kashmir historically remained independent, except during various empires, including the Mauryas, Mughals, and British.
  • Sikh Rule and British Intervention: Until 1846, Kashmir was part of the Sikh empire, but the British defeated the Sikhs and sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh under the Treaty of Amritsar.
  • Dogra Dynasty Rule: From 1846 to 1947, Kashmir was ruled by the Dogra dynasty, with the British overseeing defense, external affairs, and communications.
  • Tyrannical Rule and Popular Uprising: The rulers, especially Maharaja Hari Singh, ruled oppressively, leading to a mass uprising in 1931, which was brutally suppressed.
  • Formation of Political Parties: In 1932, Sheikh Abdullah formed the All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference, later renamed National Conference, expressing political dissent.
  • Limited Democracy: In 1934, the Maharaja allowed limited democracy with a Legislative Assembly, but unrest against his rule persisted.
  • Accession to India: In 1947, fearing tribal warfare and under Indian pressure, Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India, allegedly signing the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947.
  • Plebiscite Promise and UN Intervention: India accepted a plebiscite principle, and the United Nations intervened, enforcing a ceasefire in 1949 and creating the Line of Control.
  • UN Resolutions for Plebiscite: The UN Security Council and the UN Commission for India and Pakistan passed resolutions emphasizing a free and impartial plebiscite to determine Kashmir’s status.
  • Post-Partition War and Ceasefire: India and Pakistan went to war in 1947, leading to a ceasefire in 1949. The Line of Control was established as a result of mutual consent between the two countries.
  • Dogra Dynasty and British Raj: The Dogra dynasty ruled Kashmir as a princely state under British Paramountcy from 1846 until the 1947 partition, with a predominantly Hindu administration despite a Muslim majority population.
  • Transfer of Kashmir to Gulab Singh: Following the First Anglo-Sikh War, Kashmir was ceded to the East India Company under the Treaty of Lahore and transferred to Gulab Singh through the Treaty of Amritsar.

The dispute over Kashmir remains a complex and longstanding issue, marked by historical conflicts, geopolitical tensions, and ongoing struggles for autonomy and recognition. As the region navigates through diplomatic challenges, the world watches closely, hoping for a peaceful resolution that addresses the concerns and aspirations of the people of Kashmir.

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