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Map of Kashmir showing the Line of Control and disputed areas
Map of Kashmir showing the Line of Control and disputed areas

Kashmir is a region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The term Kashmir historically described the valley just to the south of the westernmost end of the Himalayan range. Politically, however, the term 'Kashmir' describes a much larger area which includes the regions of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The region is currently divided amongst three countries: Pakistan controls the northwest portion (Northern Areas, Pakistan and Azad Kashmir), India controls the central and southern portion (Jammu and Kashmir), and the People's Republic of China controls the northeastern portion (Aksai Chin). Though these regions are in practice administered by their respective claimants, India has never formally recognized the accession of the areas claimed by Pakistan and China. Pakistan views the entire Kashmir region as disputed territory, and does not consider India's claim to it to be valid.

Kashmir is probably the world's most well-known territorial dispute, and most Western made maps use a dotted-line to indicate the territory's uncertain boundaries.

1 Partition, dispute and war
2 Human rights abuse
3 Recent developments
4 Claims to Kashmir
5 Map Issues
6 Tourist attractions
7 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links


Early History

The name Kashmir came to be applied to this region as a result of the activities of the Dogra princes. The Dogra are a predominantly Hindu people in the area around Jammu. Their kings were reduced to submission by the Sikhs, as part of the Sikh Empire that arose following the collapse of the Mughal Empire. Under the Sikhs, as feudatories, the Dogras sought and obtained permission to push into Kashmir and the North, into Ladakh. Zorawar Singh Dogra led an expedition into Tibet in a failed effort to bring it to submission to the Sikh Empire, as a sub-feudatory of the Dogras. With the sudden collapse of the Sikh Empire before the English forces, the Dogras purchased from the English their independence, and thus also assured themselves of their feudal hold over the subsidiary kingdoms of Kashmir, Ladakh and the Emirates of the north. The Dogra kings who originally ruled only from Jammu, also began to operate in summer from Srinagar, the metropolis of Kashmir. As a result, the Dogra Kingdom developed into a sort of "Dual Monarchy", the Dogra Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmir is a valley whose beauty has been proclaimed by many and stretches out at about 7,200 square kilometers (2,800 square miles) at an elevation of 1,675 meters (5,500 feet). A Mughal ruler who built the famed Shalimar Gardens in (what is now Indian) Kashmir made the statement, " If heaven be on this earth, it must be here." It has a very ancient history and it was for a long time one of the centers of Hindu philosophical, literary and religious culture, a tradition still maintained by the native Hindu Kashmiri Pandit population. Kashmiri literature, sculpture, music, dance, painting, and architecture have had a profound influence in Asia. History, however, has witnessed the quick depletion of numbers of Kashmiri Pandits following incipience of Islamic rule; it is estimated that today at least a half million have been forced to flee from their homes in Jammu and Kashmir and seek asylum in other parts of India.

Partition, dispute and war

In 1935 (before Indian independence), British rulers compelled the Dogra Kings of Jammu & Kashmir to lease for 60 years parts of his kingdom; parts which went to make up the new Province of the North-West Frontier, in a move designed to strengthen their northern boundaries, especially from Russian intruders

In 1947, the British dominion of India came to an end with the creation of two new nations, India and Pakistan. Several princely states were reverted their sovereignity that they had ceded to the Kings of England by the subsidiary treaties .

Kashmir, which had a predominantly Muslim population, was one of these autonomous states, ruled by the Dogra King (or Maharaja) Hari Singh. Hari Singh preferred to remain independent and sought to avoid the stress placed on him by either India and Pakistan by playing each against the other.

Not long after partition, Pakistani tribals from North Waziristan invaded Kashmir. It is alleged that the main reason behind this was the general violations of basic human rights of the Muslim majority of the state by the Dogra army; the actual cause was Pakistan's impatience to absorb the Dogra Kingdom, and its fear that India may succeed in winning over its Hindu king, as it had done with the formerly pro-Pakistan Hindu kings of the Rajput kingdoms.

This invasion was aggravated by the mutiny of the army in the northern province of Gilgit, led by the two British officers placed by the Hari Singh in charge; they seized and kidnapped the Dogra prince who was governor, and unilaterally declared the province a part of Pakistan.

The invading irregular Pakistani forces made rapid advances into North Kashmir (Baramulla sector), but lost further initiative due to in-fighting among themselves. These distractions delayed their arrival into Srinagar, giving Maharaja Hari Singh enough time to enter into negotiations for acceding to India and receiving military aid in return. India promised aid if the Maharaja were to sign the instrument of accession to India, which he did. This ceded Kashmir over to India.

Pakistan claims that this accession is invalidated by a previous agreement between India and Pakistan, to maintain the "status quo"; India counters that the invasion of Kashmir by tribals aided and instigated by the Government of Pakistan, and reinforced by military regulars, had rendered that agreement null and void.

The resulting war, the First Kashmir War, lasted until 1948, when India moved the issue to United Nations to ask Pakistan to vacate the occupied Kashmir. The UN imposed a cease-fire, and mandated a plebiscite among the entire Kashmiri population, subject to the withdrawal of all Pakistani forces, regular and irregular, and the plebiscite to be held under Indian auspices.

Pakistan, however, refused to abide this resolution. Pakistan's recalcitrance was strengthened by its alliance with England and the USA, against the Soviet Union, even as India allied with the USSR.

A later resolution mandated a joint withdrawal, but India refused to accept the new proposal.

The Treaty of Accession signed by the King Hari Singh and his heir, the Sardar-e-Riyasat K. Singh Dogra, was ratified by the popular parliament of the kingdom, dominated by the National Conference party under Sheikh Abdullah. The Indian Government negotiated an autonomous status for the kingdom, and it was the only Indian province permitted to retain its own constitution, flag, anthem, etc.

Pakistan still claims free plebiscite in Kashmir under UN as the only solution, even though it has already pre-empted any such plebiscite by its actions: "Annexation" of the "Northern Territories" and cession of the "Trans-Karakorum Tract" to China. The ceasefire line is known as the Line of Control (dotted line) and is the pseudo-border between India and Pakistan in most of the Kashmir region.

In 1954, the Indian Government overthrew the provincial administration of Sheikh Abdullah, and installed a puppet administration under Ghulam Mohammed, which diluted the sovereign autonomy of Jammu & Kashmir. The Ghulam Mohammed administration also conducted a partial plebiscite in Indian-held Kashmir, and declared it in India's favour. Among the changes, the province gave up its right to a separate flag and other rights, and as a result, widespread disillusionment with India set in.

Conflicts regarding the India-China border caused the People's Republic of China to attack India in the Sino-Indian War in 1962, and seize and continues to occupy the region called Aksai Chin, besides a strip along the eastern border. In addition to the land seized by the Chinese, another smaller area (the Trans-Karakoram) was ceded to China by Pakistan in 1963 as a measure of "goodwill". The line that separates India from China in this region is known as the Line of Actual Control. [1]

In 1965 and 1971, heavy fighting again broke out between India and Pakistan. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 resulted in a defeat of Pakistan in East Pakistan (Bangladesh), and the capturing of many soldiers by India in that region. However, the fighting in Kashmir and West Pakistan, though heavy, was ultimately inconclusive, leading to the Simla Accord in 1972 between India and Pakistan. By this treaty, both countries agreed to settle all issues by peaceful means and mutual discussions, and India withdrew to the Line of Control (and from Pakistan territories to the International Border in the Punjab sector) and released 90,000 Pakistani prisoners as a gesture of goodwill.

In 1984, the simmering discontent over broken promises and the often heavy-handed rule from afar of the Indian government provoked a widespread rebellion and the commencement of armed insurgency which continues to this day. The militants have been armed and aided by Pakistan. Indeed, when native insurgents began to falter under the counter-pressure from India, Pakistan began to motivate its citizens to embark on Muslim military expeditions Jihad into Indian-held Jammu & Kashmir.

Human rights abuse

The following extract is taken from the report of Amnesty International's investigative team that has monitored the conflict with kind permission from their Press Office at Roseberry avenue London.

For too long human rights have been considered subordinate to political considerations in Jammu and Kashmir. Ordinary people have had to bear the brunt of political actors wishing to score a point.

While the threat of nuclear war has drawn the attention of the international community to the conflict, human rights of the people of Kashmir continues to be ignored.

Since 1989 indiscriminate violence is widespread in Jammu and Kashmir and civilians are killed on a daily basis. During 2001, around 1200 muslims & Hindus, including many children, were killed as a direct result of the conflict. The current escalation of violence continues to have a grave impact on the civilian population.

Hundreds of cases of torture, deaths in custody, extrajudicial executions and "disappearances" are reported every year. In most cases no one is held to account for such human rights violations, as law enforcement personnel intimidate complainants; members of the criminal justice system fail to ensure redress; and state agencies ignore court orders.

Civilians have also suffered abuses- including torture and killings- at the hands of militant armed groups who have not differentiated between civilians and military targets.

Both India and Pakistan have frequently used the tension in Kashmir to further their own political agendas and to deflect attention from the serious human rights violations in their own countries.

Recent developments

Both India and Pakistan continue to assert their sovereignty or rights over the entire region of the former Dogra Kingdom. India considers all of Kashmir to be an integral part of India, and often makes statements domestically about acquiring the Pakistani half, known in Pakistan as ‘Azad’ (free Kashmir). In international forums however it has offered to make the Line of Control a permanent border on a number of occasions. Officially Pakistan insists on a UN sponsored plebiscite, so that the people of Kashmir will have a free say in which country all of Kashmir should be incorporated into. Unofficially, the Pakistani leadership has indicated that would be willing accept alternatives such as a demilitarized Kashmir, if sovereignty of Azad Kashmir was to be extended over the Kashmir valley, or the ‘Chenab’ formula, by which India would retain parts of Kashmir on its side of the Chenab river, and Pakistan the other side. Besides the popular factions that support either parties, there is a third faction which supports independence and withdrawal of both India and Pakistan. These have been the respective stands of the parties for long, and there have been no significant change over the years. As a result, all efforts to solve the conflict have been futile so far.

In mid-1999, Islamic fighters from Pakistani Kashmir infiltrated and took control of the Kargil range overlooking the highway in Indian Kashmir, connecting Srinagar to Kargil and Leh in the east. Their objective was to sever the main Srinagar-Leh road which runs north-south in Indian Kashmir. Had they succeeded, they could have effectively cut Indian-held Kashmir in two, since, south of this highway, the inhospitable Zanskar Range prevents any communication between Kashmir proper and Ladakh.

Pakistani backed forces made great gains initially. However, India deployed a massive force, to dislodge the infiltrators. Air strikes were also used which resulted in two Indian jets being downed by Pakistani air defenses for intruding in Pakistani airspace.

At the same time, fears of the Kargil War turning into a nuclear war, provoked the US President Bill Clinton to pressure Pakistan to retreat.

The conflict ended with the withdrawal of Pakistani backed forces, with some irregulars allegedly being left stranded in the Kargil peaks, and India reclaiming control of the peaks which they now patrol and monitor at considerable cost.

It is claimed that the Kargil infiltration was ordered by the Pakistan Army without clearance of the civilian government. Prime Minister Sharif was blamed by the Army for forcing them to withdraw, though the withdrawal order was also seen as a ‘get out’ route for the military which was ill-equipped to deal with the operations political fallout. It is also alleged that humiliation caused to the Pakistani army by the episode was a significant factor in the overthrow of the civilian government a few months later by General Pervez Musharraf, the army chief who is alleged to have been responsible for instigating the Kargil operation.

The 9/11 attack on the US, resulted in it wanting to restrain militancy in Pakistan. The USA put diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to cease infiltrations by Islamic fighters into Indian-held Kashmir. However the Pakistanis argue that their national army of approximately 500,000 can in no way be better equipped to halt infiltrations as the Indian army is which is estimated to have between 300,000 and 500,000 soldiers based in Kashmir.

In early 2002, India sought to take advantage of America's new attitude by escalating its response to the attempted terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, resulting in war threats, massive deployment and international fears of nuclear war in the subcontinent.

After intensive diplomatic efforts by other countries, India started to withdraw troops from the international border, a move that was immediately reciprocated by Pakistan. On June 10, 2002, and negotiations began again. Effective November 26, 2003, India and Pakistan have agreed to maintain a ceasefire along the undisputed International Border, the disputed Line Of Control, and along the Siachen glacier. This is the first such "total ceasefire" declared by both powers in nearly 15 years. In February 2004, Pakistan further increased pressure on Pakistani Muslims fighting in Indian held Kashmir to adhere to the ceasefire.

Claims to Kashmir

The Pakistani claim to Kashmir is based on the fact that the majority of Kashmir's population is Muslim. Since Pakistan was created as a nation for the Muslims of India, the leadership of Pakistan has always felt that Kashmir rightfully belongs to Pakistan. The Pakistani claim is also based on a belief that most Kashmiris would vote to join Pakistan, although this has never been proven or disproven.

The Indian claim centers on the agreement of the Maharaja to sign over Kashmir to India through the Instrument of Accession. It also focusses on India's secular ideology, an ideology that does not factor religion into governance of major policy and thus renders it irrelevant in a boundary dispute. India refuses to accept Pakistan's argument of being a Muslim state with regard to Kashmir arguing that India has a larger Muslim population than Pakistan.

Beyond this, India feels that the majority of the Kashmiri people would vote to remain with India, and it now considers Kashmir an integral part of itself. For this reason it sees the Pakistani-held territories as land illegally taken by Pakistan. The fact that Nehru's family came from Kashmir made the issue important to him on a personal level, and he also hoped that Kashmir would serve as an example of a fully secular India (being the only Muslim majority province in the nation).

Map Issues

As with other disputed territories, each government issues maps depicting their claims in Kashmir as part of their territory, regardless of actual control. It is illegal in India to exclude all or part of Kashmir in a map. Non-participants often use the Line of Control and the Line of Actual Control as the depicted boundaries, as is done in the CIA World Factbook, and the region is often marked out in hashmarks. Test

Tourist attractions

Available to see in Kashmir are many house boats and boat taxis. The major religious sites are primarily bastions of ancient Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva. Also, there is the claimed tomb of Jesus in the Rozabal section of Srinagar, visited by many. There is also the purported tomb of Moses on Mount Nebo (Nebo Bal). Recently a number of Jews have started to visit Kashmir to see the land where some lost tribes might have settled in antiquity.

See also

Further reading

  • Victoria Schofield, Kashmir in the Crossfire (London: I B Tauris, 1996)
  • Kashmir Study Group, 1947-1997, the Kashmir dispute at fifty : charting paths

to peace (New York, 1997)

  • Navnita Behera, State, identity and violence : Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh

(New Delhi: Manohar, 2000)

  • Sumit Ganguly, The Crisis in Kashmir (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson

Center Press; Cambridge : Cambridge U.P., 1997)

  • Sumantra Bose, The challenge in Kashmir : democracy, self-determination and a

just peace (New Delhi: Sage, 1997)

  • Alastair Lamb, Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy 1846-1990 (Hertingfordbury, Herts:

Roxford Books, 1991)

  • Prem Shankar Jha, Kashmir, 1947: rival versions of history (New Delhi : Oxford

University Press, 1996)

  • Manoj Joshi, The Lost Rebellion (New Delhi: Penguin India, 1999)
  • Alexander Evans, Why Peace Won’t Come to Kashmir, Current History (Vol 100,

No 645) April 2001 p170-175

External links

  • Birds of Kashmir
  • Images of Muzaffarabad (Capital City of Azad Kashmir)
  • Images of Azad Kashmir (Free Kashmir)
  • Kashmir News Network
  • Kashmiri Publications
  • Pandit account of atrocities
  • UN Resolutions on Kashmir
  • Panun Kashmir
  • Kashmiri Music
  • Kashmir bibliography and specialists
  • Kashmiri Language
  • Milchar
  • Project Zaan
  • Kashmiri Pandit Portal
  • Kashmiri Shaivism
  • Kundalini
  • Cuisine
  • Kashmiri Online Magazine
  • An outline of the history of Kashmir
  • History of Kashmir from Pakistani perspective
  • An overview of Kashmiri achievements
  • News Coverage of Kashmir
  • Legal Documents related to Kashmir including treaties etc..
Map Issues
  • Which is the True Map of Jammu & Kashmir? - Article explains 5 major versions of Kashmir maps in Indian perspective
  • For CIA, J-K is no longer disputed - Article by Indian Express that explains CIA's revision of Indian map
  • When Microsoft released a map in Windows 95 and MapPoint 2002, a controversy was raised because it did not show all of Kashmir as part of India as per Indian claim
    • Microsoft press report on the issue

Last updated: 02-07-2005 05:24:36
Last updated: 05-01-2005 03:04:22