The root cause of instability in the South Asian region is no doubt the lingering dispute in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Whether India agrees to this or not, the Kashmir issue is the core issue beyond doubt. It has been a cause of four wars between two Asian neighbors (India & Pakistan) in the past sixty-seven years of independence, from colonial rule of the British. The proxy war however continues to be fought over the dispute in the state of J&K. The year 2014 is the 25th year of this proxy war.
…Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, made it clear to all the princely states that they had no other choice but to join India or Pakistan.
The parties to the dispute are many and searching for a solution agreeable to all affected parties is an uphill task. The major stakeholders in the dispute are India, Pakistan, Pakistan Army (State within a state) and Separatists (Hurriyat Conference).
Analyzing the historical events, it seems that the initiative for a tribal invasion in Kashmir in 1947 was not taken by the Pakistani government, though they were conscious of India’s desire to bring Kashmir into its folds, rather it was a group of Kashmiris themselves who went pursuing the Pakistani tribal to invade Kashmir. Pakistan’s suspicion grew when India did not agree to Standstill Agreement proposed by the Maharaja on 12 Aug 1947. While the government of Pakistan consented to the agreement, the Indian government asked Kashmir’s Prime Minister Mehr Chand Mahajan to come to Delhi and discuss the matter.
The Maharaja, Hari Singh, had his own grand design to keep Kashmir as an independent state. When the British announced independence to India and Pakistan, the Doctrine of Paramountcy that guided the relations between the princely states and the crown came to an end. This meant that the princely states were free to choose between India, Pakistan, and independence.
Under pressure from Indian National Congress, Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, made it clear to all the princely states that they had no other choice but to join India or Pakistan. The guiding factors for this decision were the communal allegiance of the people and geographical contiguity of the region.
While the Maharaja was seeking a Standstill Agreement with India and Pakistan, a young Kashmiri, Mohammad Ibrahim Khan had taken the initiative and established contact with Pathan tribes in Pakistan. It was he who laid the foundation of an armed conflict in the region.
Kashmir being contiguous to both India and Pakistan was geopolitically important to both India and Pakistan and naturally both sides laid their claim on the territory.
Kashmir being contiguous to both India and Pakistan was geopolitically important to both India and Pakistan and naturally both sides laid their claim on the territory. All J&K Muslim Conference led by Gulam Abbas was in favour of the state’s accession to Pakistan while the view of All J&K National Conference led by Sheik Abdulla’s espoused a secular ideology- an independent state with close ties to India.
Within a few days of tribal invasion, the civil administration at Srinagar totally collapsed. On 25th October the Maharaja left Srinagar for the winter capital of Jammu. As the raiders approached Srinagar nearer the panic grew in residents. The stories of arson, loot and mass rape by the raiders in Muzafarabad, Domel, and Baramulla were a constant reminder of the likely fate for residents. The National Conference rose to the occasion and organized a Peace Brigade of volunteers who pledged to fight communalism and defend the city from the raiders.
Meanwhile, tedious diplomatic efforts resulted in signing of “Instrument of Accession” by the Maharaja on 26 October 1947 and were accepted by Governor General of India by end of the day. Now the State of J&K was part of the Indian Union. On the October 27, 1947, Indian troops were air lifted to Srinagar to throw back the invaders.
When Jinnah came to know that the Indian troops had been dispatched to Srinagar, he became furious. He called the acting Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army, General Sir Douglas Gracey to move Pakistan Army into Kashmir and seize Baramulla, Srinagar and Banihal. The General apprised Jinnah that it was legal for India to send troops after the signing of Instrument of Accession and if he still insists on Pakistan Army into Kashmir then all British officers serving in Pakistan Army would be pulled out at once. Consequently, Jinnah had to cancel his orders.
It was decided thereon by both the countries to solve all disputes including Kashmir bilaterally thus nullifying the earlier Pakistani demand of a UN supervised plebiscite.
The fighting continued throughout 1948. The UN Security Council was considering on the Kashmir situation. India was keen on bringing the hostilities to an end at the earliest as it feared a major India-Pakistan conflagration. Indian Prime Minister Nehru asked his counterpart to stop aiding and abetting the raiders. He said that if Pakistan did not respond, India will be compelled to take action, allowed under provisions of the United Nations Charter, as it will be needed to protect its interest in the region and fulfill its obligation to the government and people of J&K.
Failing to receive any positive response, India reported the matter under Article 35 of the Charter. Security Council was requested to take measure that might be necessary to prevent the dangerous situation. Pakistan questioned the accession of the state itself, for them India had annexed it by coercion and unfair means. While India insisted on withdrawal of all raiders and Pakistani troops out of the state, Pakistan insisted on a solution by plebiscite under direct control of UN with impartial administration in the state. The USA and the UK influenced by cold war sided with the Pakistan’s point of view in an effort to increase their influence over this region, completely ignoring the Indian stand.
The United Nation Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) on arrival to the subcontinent in July 1948 found itself with a graver problem than at first envisaged. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister admitted to the Commission that three Pakistani army brigades were fighting in Kashmir since May 1948. On August 13, 1948, Commission adopted a resolution that provided for a truce agreement and plebiscite thereafter. It recognized that Pakistan had violated International Law by sending in regular troops into Kashmir.
Even before the UNCIP formally adopted the ceasefire agreement and supplementary proposals on 5 January 1949, it became effective at 2359 hours 2nd January 1949. An agreement on the Cease-Fire Line was signed that continued to exist till it was supplanted by the Line of Control (LOC) Agreement followed by the 1971 war. It was decided thereon by both the countries to solve all disputes including Kashmir bilaterally thus nullifying the earlier Pakistani demand of a UN supervised plebiscite.
After the ceasefire of 1949, the integration process of Kashmir into India and Pakistan started. With political negotiations at an impasse both the countries began to absorb their respective portions of Kashmir. POK was split into two, the Northern Areas and the Azad Kashmir which were later integrated into the Pakistani state.
The ever-growing distrust that germinated in 1953 with the arrest of Sheik Abdullah got manifested into a full-blown insurgency by the end of the eighties.
India incorporated Kashmir in the Indian Constitution under Article 370 which gave it a special status. In keeping with the conditions of Kashmir’s accession to India, local election in 1951 saw a landslide victory for Sheik Abdullah and his National Conference. Once in power his populist policies alienated the powerful Kashmiri Pandit community. They started questioning the legality of Kashmir’s special status. The rise of Hindu nationalism became a major source of friction and Shiek Abdhullah was arrested in 1953 and sent to prison. The seeds were sown for a full-blown armed secessionist movement later to be seen in the nineties which still continues in 2014.
Before the start of mass unrest that surfaced post state-sponsored rigging of elections in 1987, India and Pakistan had fought three major wars over Kashmir. On the eve of these state elections the coalition of political parties under the banner of Muslim United Front were set for victory. The Kashmiri masses had rallied behind this right wing coalition with a hope to get rid of the misrule of the National Conference under Farooq Abdullah. It was feared in the Indian establishment that this coalition once comes to power may pose a challenge to the Indian legitimacy over Kashmir itself. The fear was allegedly fanned by the Kashmiri Pandits at high posts in the Centre and the State government on one side and Farooq Abdullah on the other.
Before the elections, Rajiv-Farooq Accord was inked and in the election thereafter, contrary to the mood in the state, National Conference won. It led to a widespread discontentment in the public. A mass exodus of disenchanted Kashmiri youth started. They were going to Pakistan to get arms and fight for complete freedom from India. Kashmiris had lost complete faith in the Indian establishment. The ever-growing distrust that germinated in 1953 with the arrest of Sheik Abdullah got manifested into a full-blown insurgency by the end of the eighties.