Kashmir DisputeIntroduction and backgroundKashmir is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. India controls half of Kashmir including Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Pakistan controls one third of the state with Muzaffarabad, Gilgit and Balistan.
A small portion of Kashmir is also controlled by China. Both India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir in 1947, 1965 and 1999. An insurgency which began in the 1980s has lead to clashes between Kashmiri separatists backed by Pakistan and the Indian armed forces. This paper examines the background of the dispute.
It analyzes the political, economic, social and nuclear consequences which can occur if the dispute is not solved.The partition of India in 1947 led to the creation of India and Pakistan as the successor states of British India. An estimated five hundred and sixty two princely states remained which had been given nominal autonomy under the British rule. Each of these states joined Pakistan or India.
Jammu and Kashmir was a state which had a huge Muslim population but was ruled by a Hindu ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh.
He wanted to remain independent and resisted Pakistani and Indian pressure. Pakistani tribesmen invaded Kashmir supported by Pakistani soldiers. India accused Pakistan of attempting to force the Maharaja out of power.
The Maharaja signed an instrument of accession which led to India acquiring Kashmir. Pakistan has always contested this claim and insisted that the instrument of accession never existed. They allege that Indian troops were already present before the tribal invasion. Alastair Lamb says, “The instrument of accession was probably an invention of the Indian government to justify its military intervention”.
Pakistani tribesmen advanced rapidly towards the Kashmir valley after rumors that the Maharaja was going to join India. As the tribesmen advanced towards the outskirts of Srinagar, the Maharaja signed an instrument of accession to India. The arrival of Indian troops halted the tribal offensive. Much of the fighting would consist of small scale battles without any side gaining strategic advances.
The end of the war by a UN ceasefire saw India controlling the majority of the state with Pakistan occupying the remainder. The United Nations passed a resolution which called for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Pakistani forces. Further India would be allowed to retain a small military presence. A plebiscite would be held according to the will of the Kashmiri people.
Kashmir would be integrated into India and have a separate constitution. The Pakistanis have been calling for a plebiscite which India rejects on the basis that many Hindus were forced out of the state. The 1950s and 1960s would witness many attempts by the United Nations to resolve the Kashmir dispute. Frederic says “The United Nations attempted many times to resolve the dispute but was unsuccessful”.
Another conflict came in 1965 when Pakistan infiltrated guerillas in order to stir up rebellion in Indian administered Kashmir. This failed as the Kashmiri people did not rise and the Indian armies invaded Pakistan. Both countries fought a war to a standstill with the Kashmir dispute unresolved. The 1971 war between India and Pakistan also saw clashes in Kashmir.
During the late 1980s, armed insurgency started in Kashmir as Pakistani backed insurgents and local insurgents began attacks on Indian military and police targets. Pakistan has claimed that the insurgents have been local Kashmiri citizens. They also accuse India of perpetrating human rights abuses. It rejects claims that it has armed and financed the Kashmiri insurgent groups.
India has responded by accusing Pakistan of cross border terrorism. It says that insurgent groups have killed many civilians in bomb blasts, assassinations, kidnappings and shootings. The line of control officially separates Indian and Pakistan administered Kashmir. It has witnessed numerous clashes between the Indian and Pakistan army.
Military exercises conducted in the late 1980s led both countries to the brink of a military conflict.In recent years both countries were twice on the verge of war in 1999 and 2001. Pakistani backed infiltrators seized and occupied Kargil which led to a limited conflict between India and Pakistan. Under US pressure, Pakistan withdrew its army and infiltrators from the region.
In 2001 and 2002, terrorist attacks on Indian targets led to the mass mobilization of Indian and Pakistani armies on the border. US pressure eventually forced both countries to withdraw their armies. With the advent of the Congress government, hopes were revived for a peace process between both countries. However initial optimism, has led to a cold peace between India and Pakistan.
The number of cross border incidents has dramatically decreased under the Musharraf regime. Attempts to revive the peace process have not met with success. One researcher says, “There is a golden opportunity to resolve the current crisis with international pressure”.The Kashmir dispute is a complicated mixture of terrorism, state violence and general horror.
The dispute originally came because the British failed to devise a mechanism for the accession of princely states. Leadership in both countries transformed the Kashmir dispute into an issue of national existence. For Pakistan, the idea of a Muslim majority state being ruled by Hindus was against the concept of the two nation theory. An Indian researcher has said that “India aims to maintain the status quo of Kashmir in order to convince the world of its secular nature”.
Kashmir has been a useful slogan for Pakistan’s military and political establishment. Pakistani cities have powerful groups that advocate supporting the insurgency in Kashmir. The Kashmiri Hindu community has dominated politics in India for a long time. An Indian researcher explains that “Kashmir became a militarized problem after Indian forces crossed the ceasefire line in the 1965 war”.
The emergence of a national movement in Kashmir since the late 1980s has added the dimension of Kashmiri nationalism to the conflict. A segment of Kashmiri Muslims believe that an independent Kashmir is the best solution to the conflict. This group now looks to the models of liberation in East Europe and Soviet Union in which non violent methods were used to achieve the dismantling of a brutal system. Kashmiri Muslim nationalists are angry at the treatment of Kashmir under India.
They do not regard Pakistan as a model to be emulated.Economic consequences of the conflictKashmir has placed an economic cost on India and Pakistan. One researcher said that “continued insurgency in Kashmir and poor relations with Pakistan carries significant economic costs for India”. There is little doubt that the absence of the Kashmir dispute would have resulted in a lower military budget for India and Pakistan.
If Pakistan had spent two percent of its budget on defense, it could have saved a large percent of its GDP. The amount saved by the country over the period of the Kashmir dispute would have resulted in an increase of more than fifty percent of Pakistan’s GDP. The conflict has also hurt Pakistan by reducing trade. India’s founding fathers did not adopt a hostile attitude towards Pakistan because of the Kashmir dispute.
They were angry at the success of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in foiling their dream of a united India. Thus the initial trade war with Pakistan was initiated to ensure that the new nation would return to India.The Kashmir dispute would later loosen the economic links between the two countries. During the British rule, resources were invested in Punjab and Sindh to provide food to Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
Food grains and cotton were the main exports of those areas that constitute Pakistan to other parts of India. If both countries had continued their pre independence level of trade than Pakistan’s international trade would have increased over a period of eight to ten percent each year. This would have resulted in the growth of the country’s GDP.Another outcome of the absence of the Kashmir dispute would have been greater flow of foreign investment in the country.
Foreign investment has played a vital role in the development of East Asia. The security problems associated with the Kashmir dispute have hindered the flow of foreign investment in India and Pakistan. More intraregional trade would have added to Pakistan’s domestic savings and investments. Both countries received only a sum of foreign investment in 2006 as compared with East Asian countries.
Foreign investors stayed away because of security concerns and the absence of intraregional trade between both countries. India’s large corporations have invested in other countries but are reluctant to invest in Pakistan because of security concerns. Research has concluded that if the Kashmir dispute is resolved, it would result in high growth rate for Pakistan. If the dispute had been resolved earlier, it would have resulted in higher levels of growth and income per capita.
The people of Indian administered Kashmir have suffered the most by paying a high price with loss of life and disrupted social lives. The economy of the state has also been virtually wiped out by the insurgency. The tourism sector has been virtually destroyed after the abductions of several Western hostages. The failure of both countries to resolve the dispute has seen a huge defense burden which can be utilized in a more productive manner.
Reducing the expenditure on military service and equipment would substantially allow India to enlarge its investments on agricultural and industrial modernization.Despite having the world’s largest economy and with impressive strides in several sectors, India still remains a country plagued by poverty, corruption, hunger and illiteracy. These problems could be solved if money was diverted from the huge military expenditure required by India for a possible conflict with China or Pakistan. Also when tensions broke out between India and Pakistan in 2002 after a terrorist attack in Kashmir, many foreign companies began to close their offices in India.
Many foreign nationals also began to leave the country. The fear of a nuclear conflict also led to many foreign buyers not coming to India and placing orders. Indian exporters also faced difficulties in penetrating into other markets because of the crisis. A future conflict over Kashmir would be disastrous for India as it would reverse all of the economic gains it has achieved in the past decade.
Clearly the cost for Pakistan is much higher than India, but both nations face significant economic costs because of their failure to resolve the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan’s military rulers and intelligence agencies knew that they could hope to defeat India because of the latter’s industrial, economic and military superiority. They perceived that by supporting insurgents in the disputed area would bleed the Indian economy and force it to station huge numbers of soldiers in the disputed areas. However while the costs to India have been high, Pakistan has suffered an even greater cost.
Pakistan’s economy is not growing and rising military expenditures have forced it to curtail spending on social development programs.Nuclear consequences of the conflictThe Kashmir dispute carries the risk of war between both India and Pakistan. Both countries have nuclear weapons which carries the potential threat of a nuclear holocaust. Radical elements in both countries might trigger a nuclear exchange by a deliberate nuclear strike on the opponent’s cities prompting immediate retaliation.
Also the face that both countries have primitive early warning systems, this would also add to the confusion in the conflict. Kashmir is fueling an arms race of missile, conventional and nuclear capabilities between both nations. Both India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1998. Since than they have also acquired missiles, aircraft and submarines capable of delivering these nuclear weapons.
These weapons carry the risk of nuclear escalation and nuclear war in the region. The USA and USSR used nuclear weapons to deter the concept of conventional warfare. The conflict between India and Pakistan has many problems which make the possible of a nuclear exchange very dangerous. The Kargil conflict of 1999 and mass mobilization of armies in 2001 and 2002 brought both countries to the brink of nuclear war.
A high degree of instability is possible in any future conflict between India and Pakistan. An Indian offensive into the heartland of Pakistan would result in the latter using nuclear weapons to stop the offensive. The Indians would retaliate with a massive nuclear strike that would annihilate Pakistan. The Kashmir dispute carries the possible future risk of a nuclear exchange and war between both countries.
Currently both India and Pakistan are at a cold peace which could deteriorate into a conventional and nuclear conflict. A terrorist attack by Kashmiri insurgents in India could lead to calls for military action against Pakistan. A massive invasion of Pakistan would begun by the Indian armed forces. Pakistan faced with survival would likely respond with nuclear weapons.
India would retain the capability to inflict a punishing strike on Pakistan using its missile, aircraft and submarines to deliver nuclear weapons. During 2001 and 2002, Kashmiri insurgents attacked the Indian parliament which led to the mass mobilization of Indian armed forces on the border with Pakistan. War was prevented only because of diplomacy, international pressure and Pakistan reducing the number of cross border infiltrations. One researcher says, “The primitive state of the early warning systems of India and Pakistan means that both countries won’t know the other side has launched a nuclear strike until impact”.
Researchers say that “an estimated three million would be killed and one million people seriously injured even with a limited nuclear exchange”. Blast, fire and radiation would result in heavy casualties if nuclear weapons were exploded above ten of the major cities of India and Pakistan. Further suffering would occur due to the loss of civilian infrastructure like homes, hospitals, water and energy supplies. Further researchers have concluded that five 15 kilotons bombs exploded above major cities would cause an estimated two million casualties in India and one million casualties in Pakistan.
A think tank estimates that India has sixty five nuclear weapons made from plutonium and Pakistan has around forty nuclear weapons made from uranium. If bombs explode on the ground, the resulting dust would also kill hundreds of thousands of people.Political consequences of the conflictThe political consequences of the conflict for Pakistan are the continued rise of fundamentalist groups which might even threaten the existence of the Pakistani government. For several years, Kashmir had been a rallying point for Pakistan’s military and intelligence services as they recruited, armed and financed fundamentalists to fight Indian troops in Kashmir.
This militarization of society has badly affected Pakistan society. As President Musharraf has tried to curb the activities of fundamentalist groups, they have launched suicide bombings, shootings and kidnappings against Pakistani military and security targets. The Kashmir conflict saw the proliferation of religious seminaries that trained armed and financed insurgents to attack Indian military and police targets in Kashmir. One Indian researcher says, “Militancy in Kashmir was a low cost policy for the Pakistan military establishment to confront India without a direct military confrontation”.
The events of 9/11 witnessed Pakistan abandon its former fundamentalist allies and joined the US led coalition against terrorism. This has angered many militant groups who perceive the new policies as a betrayal of Islam. They have also angrily denounced the Musharraf government for reducing the number of cross border infiltrations. The costs for Pakistan have been high as militant groups have launched numerous suicide bombings, shootings, assassinations and kidnappings.
As long as the dispute continues, the threat of Pakistan falling into the hands of a fundamentalist regime is very great. This could be a potential threat to American interests, as a nuclear armed hostile state with fundamentalists would be strategic defeat for the United States. There have also been reports that Al Qaeda might have launched the attacks on the Indian parliament in order to stir up a conventional and nuclear war between both nations. This would have disrupted the efforts of the United States in its ongoing war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Kashmiri militancy has also led to the isolation of Pakistan internationally. The absence of a solution to the problem would further lead to accusations that Pakistan is actively supporting and sponsoring terrorism in the region. The Pakistani government would find it difficult to convince world opinion that is an active partner in the war against terrorism. While the Pakistanis are actively engaging fundamentalist groups in its border with Afghanistan, it would be perceived as continuing support for fundamentalist groups in Kashmir.
India is also facing political consequences due to the ongoing militancy in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. Human rights abuses perpetrated by Indian security forces have led to an outcry by local and international human rights organizations. One researcher says, “The abuses perpetrated by the Indian military give the militants and their Pakistani sponsors the justification to continue the armed struggle”. The Kashmiri people are in the crossfire between the Indian government and militant groups.
An estimated forty thousand civilians have been killed in the region since the start of the insurgency. Tens of thousands have been injured or displaced. Many more have fled to other parts of India and Pakistan to escape the militant violence. The Kashmir conflict has mutated into a religious war between Islam and Hinduism.
The Indian security forces claim that they are protecting Kashmir from terrorists and militants. The armed groups have claimed that they are supporting the independence struggle and protecting Kashmiris from the brutality of the Indian occupation forces. Abusive laws in the disputed area have led to the murder and incarceration of innocent people. Tortures, beatings and illegal detentions are common in the state.
Militants have been responsible for atrocities which include the killing of civilians and bomb blasts in Indian cities.Social consequences of the conflictThe withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan witnessed many Muslims who had joined the conflict to depart to their countries to fight other jihads. The Pakistani military and intelligence agencies began a campaign of arming and financing these groups in Kashmir in a proxy war with India. Pakistan needed some kind of low cost parity with India, sending insurgents into Kashmir was the perfect policy for the Pakistani military planners.
Many of the fundamentalist organizations would eventually dominate the Kashmiri insurgency and force the indigenous groups to the fringes of the conflict. Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Laskar-e-Toiba, both listed as terrorist organizations by the US State Department, have been actively leading the insurgency against Indian armed forces. Many of these fundamentalist organizations have ideas of expanding the jihad beyond Kashmir. They have talked of transforming Pakistan into a Taliban style country.
The recent foreign policies of the Pakistan government have angered the fundamentalists and triggered a violent backlash seen in the form of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks. The 1990s and early twenty first century also witnessed the rise of Hindu fundamentalists in India. The Bharatiya Janata Party rejected talks with Pakistan and advocated a hard line stance towards the Kashmir dispute. They advocated the use of military action against terrorist camps inside Pakistan to fight the insurgency.
They also succeeded in initiating pogroms against Muslims in Gujarat and in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Mosque. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed in these attacks and their properties were looted. One researcher says, “The Hindu nationalists in India were determined to teach Pakistan a lesson. However Indian Muslims provided a convenient scapegoat to be targeted for pogroms”.
Refuting the myths of Kashmir disputeThis section of the paper presents the arguments of both Pakistan and India and rebuts them. Pakistan rejects the claims of India over Kashmir as it disputes the legality and validity of the Instrument of Accession. Many Indian researchers have concluded that the instrument of accession was indeed a valid and legal document because the Maharaja initially did not want to join either India or Pakistan. However when faced by the Pakistani invasion, he had no choice but to appeal to India for military assistance.
Pakistan claims that the Kashmiri insurgency demonstrates that Kashmiri people do not want to remain in India and would willingly join Pakistan. This claim is also not true since a large segment of Kashmiris want independence or greater autonomy from India. They resent the domination of Pakistani backed groups who have been spearheading the insurgency in recent years. Pakistan also denies supporting the insurgents and says that it only provided political and diplomatic support to the insurgents.
This is also not true since Western intelligence agencies have concluded that Pakistan has actively trained, financed and armed militants in order to wage a proxy war with India. The Pakistanis claim that the conflict should be resolved by the UN resolutions of 1948 which call for plebiscite to be held. India however has countered this argument by insisting that the demographics of the region have changed with the migration of hundreds of thousands of Hindu refugees from the region. The Pakistanis also claim that India has suppressed insurgencies in other parts of the country which proves that the government is not democratic.
This view is not correct since there have been histories of democracies using force to crush the insurgencies. India has claimed Kashmir on the basis of the instrument of accession. It also says that its aim has been to show to the world that the secular model is working well and that Muslims can live in a secular society. India has claimed that the problem in the region is not due to the presence of Indian armed forces but cross border terrorism.
This view can be challenged because human rights organizations have documented cases of murders, beatings, torture, rapes, molestation and destruction of houses by Indian security forces. India labels the Kashmiri militant groups as terrorist, however while some of them have been behind terrorist attacks, they have also been attacking Indian security and military targets. Like many national liberation movements, they have used both guerilla warfare and terrorism as part of their strategy. India also says that the militants operate from Pakistan and that very few indigenous Kashmiris are participating in the conflict.
This theory is not correct because there have been many militant groups that have been indigenous Kashmiri groups. Indeed the initial years of the conflict saw attacks launched by local Kashmiris. Further some of the political organizations that are against the Indian rule have also been Kashmiri nationalists. Another myth propagated by India is that Kashmir Hindus were forcibly expelled from the valley by militants.
Although some Hindus indeed were attacked by militants, many of them left their homes willingly to escape political turmoil and the insurgency. ConclusionThe Kashmir dispute has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan for more than sixty years. The conflict has become more complicated with Islamic fundamentalism, Hindu fundamentalism, Kashmiri nationalism; insurgency and general horror have characterized its genesis. Pakistan and India have fought two major wars and one minor conflict.
The insurgency movement in Kashmir has led to Pakistan backing many armed groups which have been responsible for many terrorist atrocities. India has responded by a massive deployment of military and security forces which have been responsible for human rights abuses. The economic costs of the conflict have been high for India and Pakistan. The huge amount of money spent on military expenditures could have been used on social spending.
The absence of the conflict would have increased the economic growth rate of Pakistan. It would also have resulted in an increase in foreign investment. Both countries would have benefited from the creation of a common market. Continuing conflict will force both nations to devote large sums on maintaining conventional and nuclear warfare.
The nuclear costs of the conflict are very dangerous since the Kashmir dispute could lead to a nuclear exchange and war between the two countries. Politically the continued dispute would result in a possible transformation of Pakistan into a Taliban style state. The dangers for India are that it could threaten the secular nature of the country. The Kashmir dispute would also contribute to the rise of militant Hindu fundamentalists.
The Kashmir dispute must be resolved in order to ensure that the political, economic and nuclear consequences of the conflict are minimized or reduced. References:Drew, Federic. The Northern Barrier of India: a popular account of the Jammu and Kashmir Territories with Illustrations. London: Light & Life Publishers, 1971.
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