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Kashmir Dispute

Title: Mountains of Kashmir
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A former princely Indian state located in southern Asia comprising some 86,000 square miles. Muslims conquered Kashmir in the fourteenth century and forcibly converted its mostly Hindu and Buddhist population to Islam. The British sowed the seeds of the subsequent agitation over control of Kashmir when they placed a Hindu prince on its throne in 1846.

The dispute over the future of Kashmir began in 1947 with the partition of the Empire of India and the creation of independent India and Pakistan. India is primarily Hindu, while Pakistan is mainly Muslim. Under the terms of the 1947 Indian Independence Bill, Kashmir was supposed to determine which of the two nations it would join. Because of Kashmir's Muslim majority, Pakistanis believed that it should be part of Pakistan. Kashmir, however, was led by the Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh. His decision to join his state to India, accepted by the Indian parliament on 26 October 1947, precipitated conflict with Pakistan. This event sparked an uprising in Kashmir by its predominantly Muslim population and Pakistani tribesmen, the Azad Kashmiri, who marched on the provincial capital of Srinigar. The Indian government responded by airlifting troops into Kashmir the next day. Heavy fighting then occurred between Indian Army and Air Force units on the one hand and the rebellious Muslims and their Pakistani supporters on the other.

In November Pakistani troops crossed the border into Kashmir and fought an undeclared war with Indian forces through December 1947. Direct negotiations between India and Pakistan over Kashmir having failed, at the end of December 1947 the dispute was referred to the United Nations (UN). On 20 January 1948, the UN Security Council set up a commission to resolve the dispute. Sporadic fighting between the two sides continued, including a Pathan uprising in Kashmir on 8 February 1948 that was put down by Indian forces. Finally, UN mediation brought about a cease-fire on 1 January 1949. India, however, rejected the arbitration arrangement put forward by the UN, and the continuing dispute over Kashmir rendered close relations between India and Pakistan impossible.

Under the January 1949 agreement, UN observers monitored the cease-fire line. Pakistan was left in control of the north, known as Azad (free) Kashmir. India maintained control of the remainder, including Jammu, amounting to nearly two-thirds of the state. The vote to decide Kashmir's future called for by the UN never occurred. Negotiations took place intermittently between India and Pakistan over Kashmir but with no tangible result. On 20 August 1953, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the prime minister of Kashmir, and Jawaharlal Nehru, the prime minister of India, reached agreement on a plebiscite regarding the future of Jammu, but India then withdrew its pledge and imprisoned Abdullah. On 26 January 1957, India officially annexed Kashmir. Pakistan protested this action, and the UN refused to recognize it.

The dispute continued and was a principal cause of war between India and Pakistan in 1965. Border clashes in August led to major fighting in September. Large tank battles between the two sides resulted in stalemate. In a UN-brokered cease-fire on 22 September, both sides agreed to withdraw to the lines held on 5 August.

On 10 January 1966, India and Pakistan agreed to the Tashkent Declaration, which reestablished the former cease-fire line but failed to provide a permanent solution to the dispute between the two states. Hostilities between India and Pakistan began anew in 1971, this time over the succession of East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) from West Pakistan.

Although the war was not fought over Kashmir, fighting did occur along the cease-fire line. The war ended on 3 July 1972 with the Simla Agreement, signed by Pakistani President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The agreement defined a new line of control in Kashmir, the same basic line as before with only minor deviations. The line of control is roughly 460 miles long and runs over extremely rugged terrain from Jammu in the southwest through the Himalayas in the northeast. Again, this line was monitored by UN observers. The agreement also called for Pakistan and India to refrain from the use of force in Kashmir.

India currently controls 53,665 square miles of Kashmir, while Pakistan administers nearly 32,358 square miles. The line between the two is monitored by members of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). This team has been understaffed and insufficiently equipped since 1950. The UN team has been unable to accurately assess the many cease-fire violations claimed by Pakistan against India. For its part, India has not claimed a cease-fire violation since 1972 and has also severely limited UN observers from inspecting Indian-controlled areas. Violations mainly consisted of small-arms and artillery fire. By 1989, a Pakistan-supported insurgency in Indian Kashmir led to a rapid buildup of Indian forces in the area. The number of forces in the area has been substantially inflated, and India does not release information regarding its military forces. The insurgency and turmoil continue in the region.

Melissa Hebert and Spencer C. Tucker


Further Reading
Bose, Sumantra. Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.; Ganguly, Sumit. The Origins of War in South Asia: The Indo-Pakistani Wars since 1947. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1994.; Heitzman, J., and Robert L. Worden, eds. India: A Country Study. Washington, DC: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1995.; Margolis, Eric S. War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet. New York: Routledge, 2002.
 

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