The Kashmir Conflict and Abolition of its Special Status

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The issue of Kashmir is a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, which has been going on for centuries. The conflict began after the partition of India in 1947 as a dispute over the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and escalated into three wars and several other armed skirmishes between India and Pakistan. The partition of the Indian subcontinent led to the creation of India and Pakistan. However, the problem of more than 650 states run by existing, princes within the two newly independent countries remains. China has also been fully involved in this conflict in the role of a third party. Both India and Pakistan have been claiming the entirety of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. India controls about 55% of the territory and 70% of its population while Pakistan controls about 30% of the land and China controls the remaining 15%. India administers Jammu, Kashmir Valley, Ladakh and Siachen Glacier. Pakistan maintains the administration of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, China administers the mostly uninhabited Shaksgam Valley, and the Aksai Chin region.

Recent events have once again generated some curiosity and interest in the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. The basic facts related to this issue are well established. However, there is a concrete campaign-information campaign that presents a distorted historical account of the events that led to the irreversible access of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India; The current situation in the subsequent wars on Pakistan by India and the once serene and beautiful Kashmir valley. Pakistan’s involvement in promoting extremism and terrorism in India’s Border States, especially Jammu and Kashmir, has been well documented and accepted by all impartial observers. Whereas the current violence and disturbances have been instigated by Pakistan in the Kashmir Valley and historical perspective needs to be brought to the right, factual light for all to see. The following pages give the factual background of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

The end of British rule and partition of India triggered a battle for control of Kashmir. Since 1947, neighboring India and Pakistan have each held a portion of the Muslim majority territory, in a tense stand-off that has sparked several wars. A first war began in 1947 after the Pakistan tribal militia entered the former princely states of Jammu and Kashmir. The king of the state at the time, Maharaja Hari Singh asked India for the help and signed a letter of accession to India’s last British viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten. The United Nation Security Council mediated the conflict and on January 1St, 1949, a ceasefire came into effect.

A series of border skirmishes led to the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War. The conflict lasted only 17 days, but there were thousands of casualties.  During the 1965 war, both sides said they were betrayed by lack of support from western powers. India and Pakistan went on to build closer ties with the Soviet Union and China, respectively.

In 1999, so called Kargil war started with India alleging a Pakistan intrusion in the Kargil district of Kashmir. The war started in May of that year continued until July when India and Pakistan fought to a staff-off which was widely seen as a defeat for Pakistan.

Complicated matters are the dispute Aksai chin area at the north-east of Kashmir along the border with China. In 1962 India and China fought a brief war there and only reached an agreement to respect Kashmir borders in the mid-1990s.  China, however, continues to hold Aksai Chin. In addition to the wars, there have been constant protests, military stand-offs and deadly clashes around Kashmir. 2016 killed in Burhan Wani, commanders of the Kashmiri separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen, triggered the unprecedented level of violence. The militant leaders with a large following among young people and strong social media, presence, was killed by Indian Government forces which consider Wani’s organization to be a terrorist group. Thousands of people took to the streets, and hundreds were killed in protests and the demonstration that was followed. Among those killed was veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari, who was shot dead along with one of his bodyguards.

In June 2018, United Nation published its first-ever report on the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, which shows the situation of Human Right in Kashmir. The report called for a major investigation into human right abuses, including cases of rape, torture, and extrajudicial killings in the disputed region. While India rejected the report as “Fallacious”, Pakistan welcomed an international investigation of the human right situation on the Indian held side of Kashmir.

In July 2019, the UN released another report that said both India and Pakistan had failed to take clear steps to address findings in the June 2018 investigation. The new report focused on abuses by state security forces. The UN expressed concern that cases of people going missing in Pakistan held Kashmir were linked to Pakistani intelligence agencies. The UN called on India’s Government to review its crowd control techniques because continuous use of shotguns had caused many civilians deaths and injuries.

On August 5, 2019, the Indian Government scrapped the special autonomy status which the Indian held side Kashmir had enjoyed since the 1940s. Pakistan held Kashmir president Sardar Masood khan held a legislative assembly meeting to bring international attention to the situation, which is already being closely monitored by the UN. Stephane Dejurric, spokesman for the Secretary General said that “We are following with concern the tense situation in the region. We are also aware of the report of restriction on the Indian side of Kashmir and we urge all partied to exercise restraint”.

Protests broke out in Pakistan administered Kashmir and elsewhere in Pakistan, as politician condemned India’s unilateral decision. Following India’s decision on special status, the Indian administered region was placed on complete lockdown, with tens of thousands of Indian troops deployed, curfews imposed and all telecommunication were cut. India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party insisted the move would bring about peace and prosperity to the region. But it is widely seen as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effort to tighten control over India’s only Muslim majority state. The controversial and restive Kashmir region remains a flashpoint between India and Pakistan, leaving many Kashmiris unsure about their future.