The name that makes blood in the nerves of two nations boil with frustration or pride. An international environmental and security issue involving two nuclear powers divided in the third polar region of the world, The beautiful Himalayas.
The nations India and Pakistan have been competing with each other claiming the land of Kashmir as an integral part of their country.They have fought 4 wars so far and the proxy wars continue all the time with intermittent periods of peace.
In 1947, when India and Pakistan got independence, the princely states on both sides were given 3 options.
1) To Join India (a predominantly Hindu, Secular nation with substantial Muslim population)
2) To Join Pakistan(A nation formed for Muslims as per it’s founding father Md. Ali Jinnah)
3) Remain unaffiliated, independent nation.
Soon after Independence, most of the princely states chose their sides. Few territories chose to remain independent. Pakistan wanted the Kashmir state since it was highly populated with Muslims and was juxtaposed to their country which was formed especially for Muslims, however, Raja Hari Singh, the then king of Kashmir was reluctant to give up his Kingdom and denied signing the instrument of accession in favour of Pakistan. Since the king didn’t agree to join it, Pakistan planned to dethrone the king by creating internal disturbances. Trained tribal Lashkars were sent to execute the task, which worked out very well and Azad Kashmir movement started taking shape. Sensing the right time and favourable situation, Pakistan army crossed Kashmir borders supporting the tribal Pashtoon forces on 22nd October 1947. The raja, when notified about the advancing forces from Pakistan, turned to India for help.With some conditions, he also signed accession to India. By that time Pakistan had occupied large parts of the Kashmir territory. It was only post-accession that India got involved in the issue of Kashmir. The Indian army was airlifted to Srinagar to retaliate the advancing Pak army and had successfully recaptured many territories forcibly occupied by the Pakistani forces and the line of actual control was formed. On 1st January 1949, UN declared the ceasefire in the region on being approached by India for a solution.
Pakistan claims that the raja of Kashmir was in a standstill agreement with them, moreover, the public of Kashmir revolted on the king during the Azad Kashmir movement and stated that the territories occupied by them will remain as part of Pakistan since the standstill agreement leaves the king with no authority to join India. Whereas India takes the instrument of accession signed by Raja Hari Singh as valid and stated that any attack on the entire region of Kashmir will be considered an attack on India.
China, on the other hand, considers the Aksai Chin region of Kashmir as an integral part of its Xinjiang Autonomous Region. In 1913 a conference was held between the (British) representatives of India, Tibet and China to finalise the border line between India, Tibit and China. The Chinese representatives first accepted the borderline called Mcmahon Line, however, later they denied accepting the same and in 1959 they forcibly occupied Tibet. The act was harshly criticised by India. China responded to India with a surprise full-scale attack on the northeast and Kashmir regions in 1962. China retreated its forces after occupying huge territories and declared a unilateral ceasefire, keeping some territories in its control and till date continues to control the Aksai Chin as an integral part of China. Pakistan recognises the Chinese controlled areas of Kashmir as part of China and timed its borderline settlement with China post resolution of Kashmir issue.
The UN, visited and analysed the situation in the valley and passed a resolution with 3 conditional and sequential steps.
1) Pakistan should withdraw (demilitarise) all its armed forces and non-Kashmiri residents from Pakistan should leave the region.
2) Post-withdrawal of Pakistani forces, India will leave a nominal amount of security forces in the region for domestic purposes and withdraw its bulk forces.
3) A plebiscite will be Conducted by UN to determine the choice of Kashmiri people, whether to join India or Pakistan or be an independent nation.
These points of resolution are rejected by Pakistan and a direct plebiscite without the first two conditions is demanded. India, however, agreed to the resolution if Pakistan acts on the conditions mentioned in the resolution.
Therefore, as a matter of fact,
Everyone has their own Kashmir
Pak calls it Azad Kashmir
China calls it Aksai Chin
India calls it J&K
A third of the Kashmir is shared between China and Pakistan and a relatively larger part of it is already in India.
If we ignore the portion of land with China as it is mostly uninhabitable, the Situation of Kashmir in India and Pakistan is not at all great.
Both chest thumping governments on either side of the land, be it the army or so-called democratic version of governments from Pakistan or the Dynastic party and so called secular right wing party from India, none of them has brought happiness into the depressed valley in 70 years of fight.
War, violence, curfew, kidnappings, disappearances, killings, deaths, loss of life and property, manipulations, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, brain washings, stone pelting, pellet guns, human rights violation.., the list of miseries of this breathtakingly beautiful fantasy land never end. All of this for 70 years, almost 4 generations have only seen anything but the loss in one form or the other.
What should we be proud of? What is there to be proud of?
The number of dead soldiers?
Dead civilians who have nothing to do with the issue?
A number of mothers who lost their children, wives who lost their husbands?
Or the great speeches of freeing Kashmir from the clutches of the rival country given by the so called great leaders from either side whose own sons or other family members are never part of the army/ who never lost a family member in the war and have never acknowledged the truth of the valley?
Dear India and Pakistan
If you want to compete with each other over Kashmir,
show your love for the area of the valley within your control by making the lives of the barely better people better.
Give them a sense of security, peace, being loved, empathy, financial and personal support to heal the 7decade old wounds. Your guns are of no help here.
Youngsters who are poor, illiterate and unemployed are easy targets for religious fundamentalists and terror outfits. Your hate is only breeding more and more hate.
A disputed region often breeds the weeds of greedy leaders who want to take advantage of the situation and exploit the innocence of poor youth, brainwash them into violence and spread the propaganda that will catapult them to power in the region. It is the reality of the valley today. When for few months money was not available in hand due to demonetisation in India, the valley experienced
Peace for a brief amount of time. Then the problem is obvious. Economic progress was brutally hit on the knees by the violence. People need growth and economic stability. They want to live normal lives like everyone, and it is their right to have a happy life. A child’s dreams should not get crushed by poverty and religious terrorism just because the region he lives in is disputed.
Imagine the plight of ordinary Kashmiri resident, living in the violent chaos organised by separatists or army or the terror groups intruding their homes,their brains, taking away their kith and kin only to find them as a terrorist, a dead body, a small passport size photograph among the thousands who just disappeared or as an unidentified grave.
this is not what a Kashmiri or any sane human wants to happen.
The day a Kashmiri sees an army man as a friend instead of seeing him as the enemy. The day economic prosperity actually grows in the valley unlike in the repeatedly failed promise in political manifestos, the day every family in the valley does not have to fear going out and earn a living. The day stones in the Kashmiri youngster’s hands get replaced by jobs, the day when the armies no longer have to provide high security or repeated and prolonged curfew, when no mother, either of an army man or of a youngster of Kashmir has to lose her loving child or a sister her brother or a family’s lone breadwinner in a battle to survive in the chaotic violence created by power mongering leaders, the day we don’t have to witness in everyday news the seesaw of blame game played by the nation’s and their political parties, then, only then you don’t have to make them choose your country over the other, by putting a loaded gun on their heads. Economic progress and education are the only way out of this mess.
My appeal to all the people of both nations is, if you come across anyone who wants to achieve the feat of conquering the whole region of Kasmir, a political leader or just a keyboard warrior or so-called desh bhakts, politically manipulating minds of your nation and try to make you think that achieving complete landmass of Kashmir is highly important, tell them to make life of ordinary Kashmiri livable at least and then speak of the issue.
Kashmir as of now is reduced to a political agenda to win votes, which is efficiently utilised by politicians of both sides. Let’s make the agony of the common man of Kashmir understood and necessary measures be taken for the upliftment of the region so that the world know that beauty is not just in the looks of Kashmir but also in the way the nation’s who fought for it resolved their issues beautifully.
Krishna Mohan Vasa