Monday, March 2, 2009


Location: The State of Jammu and Kashmir encompasses a mountainous region in the heart of Asia, with borders touching to both South and Central Asia. Surrounded by Pakistan, India, China and Afghanistan.

Area: 86,000 square miles, more than three times the size of the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium combined. Bigger than 87 member countries of the United Nations.

Population: Estimated 13 million, including 1.5 million refugees in Pakistan and 0.5 million expatriates in different parts of the world. Larger than 114 sovereign nations.

Background: Technically, the area is called The State of Jammu and Kashmir, and has been historically independent, except in the anarchical conditions of the late 18th and the first half of the 19th century or when incorporated in the vast empires set up by the Mauryas (3rd century BC), the Mughals (16th to 18th centuries) and the British (mid-19th to mid-20th centuries).

Cause of Dispute: In 1846, the British colonial rulers of India sold the territory, including its populace (by a sale deed called the Treaty of Amritsar, in return for a sum of money) to a Hindu warlod who had no roots there. This warlord who bought himself into royalty, styled himself as the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir. The acts of brutality during his regime have left bitter memories, some of which persist to this present day. Several mosques were closed and occupied by his forces. The slaughtering of a cow was declared a crime punishable by death. Between 1925 and 1947 Maharajah Hari Singh continued this policy of discrimination against the 94 percent Muslim majority. It was nearly 65 years ago, in 1931, that the people of Kashmir made their first organised protest against Maharajah Hari Singh's cruelty. That led to the "Quit Kashmir" campaign against the Maharajah in 1946, and eventually to the Azad Kashmir movement which gained momentum a year later.

The first armed encounter between the Maharajah's troops and insurgent forces occurred in August 1947. At this time, Britain was liquidating its empire in the subcontinent. Faced with a insurgency of his people, strengthened by a few hundred civilian volunteers from Pakistan, Maharajah fled to Jammu on 25th October 1947. In Jammu, after he ascertained a commitment of military assistance from the government of India to crush the impending revolution in Kashmir, he signed the "Instrument of Accession" to India.

Lord Mountbatten conditionally accepted the "Instrument of Accession" on behalf of the British Crown, and furthermore, outlined the conditions for official acceptance in a letter dated 27th October 1947:

"In consistence with their policy that in the case of any (native) state where the issue of accession has been subject of dispute, the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the state, it is my government's wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invaders the question of state's accession should be settled by a reference to the people."

Then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in a speech aired on All­India Radio (2nd November 1947), reaffirmed the Indian Government's commitment to the right of the Kashmiri people to determine their own future through a plebiscite:

"We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given, and the Maharajah has supported it, not only to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, but also to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it. We are prepared when peace and law have been established to have a referendum held under international auspices like the United Nations. We want it to be a fair and just reference to the people and we shall accept their verdict."

The Government of India accepted the "Instrument of accession" conditionally, promising the people of the state and the world at large that "accession" would be final only after the wishes of the people of the state were ascertained upon return of normalcy in the state.

Following this, India moved her forces into Srinagar and a drawn­out fight ensued between Indian forces and the forces of liberation. The forces of Azad Kashmir successfully resisted India's armed intervention and liberated one­third of the State. Realising it could not quell the resistance, India brought the issue to the United Nations Security Council in January 1948. As the rebel forces had undoubtedly been joined by volunteers from Pakistan, India charged Pakistan with having sent "armed raiders" into the state, and demanded that Pakistan be declared an aggressor in Kashmir. Furthermore, India demanded that Pakistan stop aiding freedom fighters, and allowing the transit of tribesmen into the state.

After acceptance of these demands, coupled with the assurance that all "raiders" were withdrawn, India would enable a plebiscite to be held under impartial auspices to decide Kashmir's future status. In reply, Pakistan charged India with having manoeuvred the Maharajah's accession through "fraud and violence" and with collusion with a "discredited" ruler in the repression of his people. Pakistan's counter complaint was also coupled with the proposal of a plebiscite under the supervision and control of the United Nations to settle the dispute.

The Security Council exhaustively discussed the question from January until April of 1948. It came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to determine responsibility for the fighting and futile to blame either side. Since both parties desired that the question of accession should be decided through an impartial plebiscite, the Council developed proposals based on the common ground between them. These were embodied in the resolution of 21st April 1948, envisaging a cease­fire, the withdrawal of all outside forces from the State, and a plebiscite under the control of an administrator who would be nominated by the Secretary General. For negotiating the details of the plan, the Council constituted a five­member commission known as "United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan" (UNCIP) to implement the resolution.

After the cease­fire, India began efforts to drag the issue down, and under various pretexts tried to stop the UN resolution from being implemented. To this day, India pursues the same plan, and the resolution of 1948 has yet to be realised.

India and Pakistan were at war over Kashmir from 1947­48 and all early U. N. Security Council Resolutions contained admonishment for both countries demanding an immediate case­fire, which would be followed by a-UN directed Plebiscite. However, disregarding that some fifteen resolutions were passed by the United Nations to this very effect, India and Pakistan again initiated military skirmish in 1965. At this point, another cease­fire agreement was effected after United Nations intervention, followed by an agreement at Tashkent with the good offices of the USSR.

In 1971, India and Pakistan once again became locked in war. Efforts to bring the latest conflict to an end resulted in the Simla Agreement and was signed by both India and Pakistan and declared commitment to reach a "final settlement" on the Kashmir issue, but this has yet to happen.

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