The Kashmir Issue Explained
Over the past seven decades, around 1.5 billion people are facing an uncertain crisis of Kashmir that has affected them with multiple wars, economic slowdown, and social issues.
This single yet significant issue has seen several ups and downs in coming very close to be resolved at times or through the military stand-off of two nuclear-armed nations.
While Pakistan has attempted to get this crucial issue resolved according to the UN resolutions over the past seven decades, India always finds an excuse to run away from its resolve through dialogue.
After the world war II, with the newly emerging geopolitical factors, it was certain that the British have to leave the sub-continent pertaining to the internal situation of the sub-continent and the depleting influence of the British around the world. The major political parties of then British India, Indian National Congress (INC) and All-India Muslim League (AIML) also sensed the fast-approaching opportunity of freedom from the British.
Both parties were eager to benefit from the situation and forced Britain to leave the sub-continent at the earliest with Muslims eyeing on getting an independent state and Hindus wanting one India.
After a few years of world war, the Indian Independence Act of 1947 was finally passed by the British parliament and guiding principles were issued to decide the fate of 565 princely states of British India.
Overall the act argued that the states with Muslim-majority population will join Pakistan and non-Muslim majority states will join India. This was accepted at large by all the concerned parties but few states which have Muslim or non-Muslim majority population with different rulers posed a problem. Out of these, Kashmir (75% Muslim population), Junagadh and Hyderabad states were prominent.
Obviously, both INC and AIML eyed on the Kashmir due to its strategic benefits to whomever the state accede to. Whoever controlled Kashmir would have the liberty to control most of the river water flowing in the two countries. Apart from water resources, it was imperative for Pakistan to use Kashmir to have access to China in the North and for India, it was imperative to have land access to Central Asia or Soviets in the West which will eventually assist its expansionist plans in the future undermining Pakistan’s interest.
When the Boundary Commission had announced its final plan on 15th August 1947 the newly born Pakistan’s leadership was surprised by the unjust accession of Gurdaspur – the Muslim majority district and the only land route connecting India to Kashmir – to India instead of Pakistan.
This showed the partiality of the crown of England in treating both newly born countries.
As a newly born country with no cash reserves or military hardware – which were held up by India at the time – it became extremely difficult for Pakistan to take any concrete step on Kashmir.
At the same time, Junagadh state (non-Muslim majority state with a Muslim ruler) acceded to Pakistan posing a threat to the Indian union. Nehru and Lord Mountbatten decided to forcefully take the state under the Indian government and a seige (both land and sea) of Junagadh took place by the Indian forces under the orders of Lord Mountbatten and support of Nehru.
This event gave birth to the armed conflict which we see in Kashmir today as India by putting Junagadh under seige lost any moral claim of preventing Pakistan from doing the same in Kashmir.
The volunteer fighters from the West Punjab (Pakistan) and the then NWFP (now KPK) went to Kashmir in order to fight the Indian occupation. Indian military headed mostly by British officers under the orders of Lord Mountbatten had been sent to Kashmir to stop the freedom fighters of Kashmir. In 1948, Pakistan Army also headed by British officers joined the freedom struggle and a stalemate situation arose and on 1st January, 1949 a ceasefire agreement took place between Pakistan and India.
The first-ever UN resolution on Kashmir was passed on January 5, 1949, which gave the rights to Kashmiri people to decided their future of accession or independence through a referendum under neutral UN observers.
To date, after more than 70 years, the UN has failed to implement its own resolution on Kashmir.
Since then Pakistan and India have fought multiple wars on Kashmir and it has become a sting in the relations of two countries.
Over 70 years, both the countries have seen ups and downs in solving the issue whether through dialogue, international pressure or wars but no conclusive results could be seen.
Now with the one-sided breach of the UN resolutions on 5th August 2019 by the same party – India – who went to UN for a possible plebiscite, the issue has once again been stirred up.
The removal of Article 370 which gave the special status has been rejected by Kashmiris of Indian occupied Kashmir and also by Pakistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir.
Recently at UNGA session, prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has apprised the world of the sensitivity of the issue and rightly warned about the irresponsible behavior of India in the region by taking a unanimous decision on the critical dispute that has already caused bloodshed in the sub-continent.
Now with both countries having nuclear weapons, a little miscalculation can lead to an irrecoverable disaster that every country in the world should stop.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his UN General Assembly Speech, rightly pointed out that the world should look over economic interests to resolve this human conflict which has endangered a whole population living under India’s oppressive rule for years.