KASHMIR The state of Kashmir lies to the northeast of PakistanWhen, in August 1947, the British left India in the hands of the successor states of India and Pakistan, Kashmir had a population of some four million, 75 percent of whom were Muslims, the remaining were Hindus The Hindus were concentrated in the Jammu district in the state’s southwest, close to the border with Pakistan Although the state was predominantly Muslim, it had been ruled by a Hindu maharaja for as long as the British had ruled IndiaThe British decision to leave India was taken without any clear indication as to the political future of the hundreds of princely states that dotted the South Asian subcontinent The assumption was that the princes would seek association with either India or Pakistan, depending on the geographical location of their areas This policy did not pose a problem for most states as the princes decided to join the country that was the closest to them However, this did not happen in the case of two large estates, Hyderabad and Kashmir, and one small one, Junagadh The case of Hyderabad was clear; while ruled by a Muslim-the Nizam of Hyderabad-its population was predominantly Hindu When the Nizam showed some hesitation in joining India, the Indian government simply took over the control of the state in 1948 by sending in its army in what it euphemistically called a “police action
” Junagadh was also annexed by India in the same wayThe problem of Kashmir proved to be more difficult to resolve, however Hyderabad was surrounded by India; Kashmir, on the other hand, shared borders with both India and Pakistan, as well as China Pakistan clearly expected the Hindu maharaja to file the instruments of accession in its favor When it seemed that the maharaja was deliberately stalling for time, Pakistanis encouraged a force of Pathan tribesmen to move into the state The Pathans advanced quickly toward Srinagar, the state capital, in the spring of 1948 and would have conquered it had the Indians not moved in their troops following the formal accession by the maharaja to India The Indian troops, airlifted into the state, were able to push the Pathans back but not completely out of the state At this point, Pakistan formally joined the fighting, thus launching the First Indo-Pakistan war In January 1949, the Indian and Pakistani governments agreed to a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire with the promise that a plebiscite would be held in the state in order to ascertain whether the Kashmiris wished to join India or Pakistan They were not given the choice to opt for independenceThe Kashmir case was referred to the United Nations Security Council almost every year, mostly by Pakistan; but Indians gradually changed the status of the state by applying to it the provisions of their constitution and holding elections to the state assembly
Delhi argued that by holding elections in the state they had fulfilled the UN’s demand for a plebisciteThe Chinese invasion of India in 1962 seemed to create an environment for the possible resolution of the issue With the United States and Great Britain pushing hard, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s prime minister, agreed to hold discussions with Pakistan Five rounds of talks were held in 1962-1963 but no progress was made, which provoked Pakistan to encourage the citizens of Kashmir to rebel against the occupation of the state by India “Operation Gibraltar,” launched in the summer of 1965, infiltrated commandos from the Pakistan army into Kashmir The Indians retaliated by invading Pakistan on 6 September 1965, thus starting the Second Indo-Pakistan War over the state Once again the United Nations intervened and the Indian and Pakistani troops returned to the positions they had occupied before the start of the warThe Third Indo-Pakistan War, fought in November-December 1971 was not over Kashmir but over the future of East Pakistan By signing the Simla Accord in July 1972, however, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto accepted the Indian demand that the issue of Kashmir should be resolved by bilateral discussions The Indians understood that by accepting this provision of the accord, Pakistan had agreed not to go back to the United Nations In other words, Pakistan seemed to have given up the demand to determine the future of the state by holding a plebiscite
The Simla Accord also established a new border between the Indian and Pakistani held parts of the state It was called the “line of control” (LOC)In the early 1990s, some Kashmiris, inspired by the success of the Afghan mujahideen in expelling the Soviet Union from their country, decided to launch a struggle of their own against Indian occupation Some of the mujahideen were trained in the camps based in Pakistan India responded to these developments by sending hundreds of thousands of troops into the state but was not able to suppress the movement In May 1998, when India exploded five nuclear devices and Pakistan followed two weeks later with six explosions of its own, Kashmir once again drew the world’s attention By then some 10,000Kashmiris had reportedly been killed in battles with the half a million strong Indian force, which was determined to keep the Indian hold over the state Pakistan seemed ready to retaliate with nuclear weapons if the Indian troops invaded its territory in pursuit of Kashmiri freedom fighters In the summer of 1998, there was considerable apprehension that the unresolved Kashmir problem could lead to a nuclear war between India and PakistanThe Pakistani army, by launching an operation to occupy the Kargil heights in the spring of 1999, once again tried to use force to alter the status quo in Kashmir The Indian response was much more aggressive than Pakistan had anticipated
On 4 July 1999, following a meeting between the US President Bill Clinton and Pakistani Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan agreed to pull out its troops from KargilKashmir was back in focus in 2001 when a group of Islamic militants attacked the compound of the Indian Parliament on 13 December India, after having accused Pakistan of instigating the attack, responded by massing half a million troops on the border with Pakistan Islamabad responded by mobilizing on its side of the border. It took active diplomacy by the United States and Great Britain to defuse this crisis between the two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals. In January 2004, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the prime minister of India, visited Pakistan and met with President Pervez Musharraf on the sidelines of the twelfth summit of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation, and signed the Islamabad Declaration that promised that the two countries would resolve their differences through dialogue not force. Relations warmed quickly after the Islamabad summit and led to a series of high level talks between the two sides. On 7 April 2005, bus service was started between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, the capital cities of the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir. Ten days later in a summit in New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged once again to resolve all disputes between the two countries, including that of Kashmir, through discussions and dialogue. On 8 October 2005, an earthquake destroyed much of Azad Kashmir, the area administered by Pakistan. More than 85,000 people were killed and another 150,000 were injured. In response to the tragedy, India and Pakistan agreed to open five more crossings in the LOC. These developments notwithstanding, not much progress was made by the two countries to find a solution to the long-lasting problem of Kashmir.