1947: August 14/15. British India is partitioned into India and Pakistan as part of the independence process. Majority Muslim areas in the West (now all of Pakistan) and East (the place now called Bangladesh) form Pakistan. The British also allow the nominal rulers of several hundred “princely states,” who were tax collectors for the British and served at British pleasure, to decide whether they wanted to join India or Pakistan. Pakistan demands Kashmir accede to it. The Hindu ruler of Kashmir does not make a choice. Kashmir has three major ethnic areas: Ladakh in the northwest, which is majority Buddhist; the Kashmir Valley (controlled by India) and the part now controlled by Pakistan, which is majority Muslim, and Jammu (in the south), which is majority Hindu. The overall majority is Muslim.
1948: “Tribesmen” from Pakistan invade Kashmir with the support of the Pakistani government. The ruler of Kashmir asks India for help. India demands that Kashmir should accede to India first. The ruler agrees. India sends forces to Kashmir and the invasion is blocked. Kashmir is divided into a Pakistani controlled part and an Indian controlled part. This de facto partition continues to this date with the dividing line being known as the Line of Control.
1948: India takes the Kashmir issue to the U.N. Security Council, which passes a resolution calling on Pakistan to do all it can “secure the withdrawal” of Pakistani citizens and “tribesmen” and asking that a plebiscite be held to determine the wishes of the people of Kashmir. Neither the force withdrawal nor the plebiscite has taken place.
1962: India and China fight a border war. China occupies a part of Ladakh.
1965: India and Pakistan fight a border war along the India-West Pakistan border and the Line of Control in Kashmir. U.N. brokered cease fire and withdrawal to pre-war lines affirmed by the leaders of the two countries at a 1966 summit meeting in Tashkent, USSR (now Toshkent, Uzbekistan).
1970-1971: An election in (East and West) Pakistan results in an overall majority for an East Pakistani party, which is ethnically mainly Bengali. The Pakistani military refuses to allow the Parliament to convene. East Pakistanis demand autonomy, then independence in the face of brutal repression by the Pakistani military. Guerilla warfare ensues. About ten million refugees stream into India from East Pakistan. India also provides sanctuary to Bangladeshi guerillas. Pakistan attacks airfields in India and Indian-controlled Kashmir. India strikes back in West Pakistan and also intervenes in the East on the side of the Bangladeshis. The U.S., in a “tilt” towards Pakistan, sends a nuclear-armed aircraft carrier, the Enterprise, and its battlegroup, to the region, in an implicit nuclear threat to India (which influences nuclear politics of India in favor of nuclear testing). Pakistan loses the war on both fronts and Bangladesh becomes independent.
1972: India and Pakistan sign a peace accord, known as the Simla (or Shimla) agreement, according to which both sides agree “to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them.” Both countries agree that they will not unilaterally try to alter the Line of Control in Kashmir.
1974: India tests a nuclear device. Pakistan accelerates its nuclear weapons program.
1980s: U.S. supports Islamic resistance to Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and also the dictatorship of Zia-ul-Haq in Pakistan, which promotes Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan.
Late 1980s: There is a state-level election in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir. There is evidence of fraud. Militancy rises in Kashmir. In 1989, the Soviets quit Afghanistan. Islamic militants from outside South Asia now become engaged in Kashmir, with the support of the Pakistani government. The violence in Kashmir becomes more dominated by foreign fighters and by religious fundamentalism. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Hindu fundamentalism begins to become more powerful as a political force in India.
1990s: Violence intensifies in Kashmir. Islamic militants carry out ethnic cleansing in the Kashmir Valley, terrorizing non-Muslims, mainly Kashmiri pundits, causing large numbers of people to flee, mainly to Jammu. Pakistan supports the cross border infiltration. The Indian military responds with repression to the terrorism, foreign infiltration, and the domestic insurgency, which are now all mixed up. There are serious human rights abuses on all sides.
1998: A coalition led by the Hindu-fundamentalist party, the BJP, comes to power in India. India and Pakistan carry out nuclear weapons tests and declare themselves nuclear weapon states. Pakistan announces that it may, under certain circumstances, use nuclear weapons first to neutralize India’s conventional superiority, making reference to NATO’s Cold War doctrine of potential first use in case of a European war with the Soviets. India says it will not use nuclear weapons first.
1999: Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, travels to Lahore, Pakistan for a peace meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. There is great hope for peace. Three months later Pakistan-based militants invade the Kargil area in Indian-controlled Kashmir, with the support of the military. A military confrontation, with the possibility of nuclear war, ensues. Nawaz Sharif travels to Washington and President Clinton convinces him to withdraw Pakistani forces from Kargil. Confrontation ends. Nawaz Sharif is overthrown in a military coup led by General Musharraf, one of the architects of the Kargil war. (Musharraf proclaims himself President of Pakistan in the year 2000.)
September 11, 2001: Well-known tragic events in the United States. Terrorist attacks kill about 3,000 people.
October 1, 2001: A terrorist attack on the Kashmir state legislature in Srinagar. 38 people are killed.
October 7, 2001: U.S. launches a war in Afghanistan, under the rubric of the War on Terrorism. President Musharraf becomes a U.S. ally and allows Pakistan to become a base of operations for the United States. Al Qaeda, Taliban, and their supporters in Pakistan feel severe pressure.
December 13, 2001: A terrorist attack on India’s Parliament. Fourteen people (including five attackers, as well as security guards and two civilians) are killed.
Aftermath of December 13: India mobilizes and moves hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the border with Pakistan, including the Line of Control in Kashmir. The danger of conventional and nuclear war rises.
May 14, 2002 to date (early Sept 2002): A terrorist attack on families of Indian servicemen. More than 30 people killed. India threatens to retaliate. Pakistan makes implicit threats of nuclear weapons use in case of Indian attack. Peak of the conventional and nuclear confrontation reached in May-June 2002. Greatest threat of nuclear war since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. U.S. troops and war strategy in the region imperiled. U.S. shuttle diplomacy defuses the immediate crisis as Pakistan promises to end cross border infiltration. India does not retaliate. Tensions remain high and the threat of war and nuclear weapons use persists.
Since the partition of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947, the Kashmir dispute has been an intractable one between them. They fought three wars over it in1948, 1965, and 1999, but have not been able to resolve it. The partition left the fate of over 550 princely states undecided. They were required to accede to either of the two states on the basis of the geographical location and wishes of their people.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir should have acceded to Pakistan because of its Muslim majority population and geographical location, but this was not happened when Mahraja Hari Singh seek military assistance from India to resist the Pakistani tribal’s attacks and ultimately signed the ‘Instrument of Accession’ with India. Eventually Indian forces intervened and captured the state of Jammu and Kashmir. From that day Kashmir dispute has been the core issue between both Pakistan and India, which also had kept the security of entire South Asia at stake because of their extensive nuclear capability.
So, the Kashmir issue has been a major bone of contention from the day of independence, resulted in three wars, numerous conflicts between India and Pakistan and severely rigid diplomacy. The United Nations Security Council had tried to resolve the dispute by declaring that the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method by holding a free and fair plebiscite but India had rejected any mediation which opposed its claim regarding Kashmir.
Kashmir’s strategic importance lies in the fact that its borders meet with China and Afghanistan and also is close to Russia. Almost all the rivers which flow through Pakistan, originate from Kashmir, that’s why both the countries ignore stepping back claiming of this territory.
The failure of diplomacy to resolve the Kashmir issue attracted international and regional attention to it. After the wars of 1948, 1962 and 1965, determined efforts were made to resolve this issue. In 1948, the United Nations became deeply involved but India didn’t show flexibility. After the India-China border War of 1962, there were intense but fruitless American and British efforts to bridge a gap between India and Pakistan. The end of 1965 war saw Soviet Union as a regional peacemaker. The Soviets did manage to promote a peace treaty at Tashkent, but this could not establish peace in the region and soon Indian involvement in East Pakistan led to her separation in 1970-71.
The most consistent feature of great power influence on the Kashmir problem has been its ineffectiveness. Besides Cold war rivalries, both United States and the Soviet Union have played significant, often parallel and cooperative roles in the subcontinent. Both Washington and Moscow made several inconclusive efforts to mediate the dispute or bring about its peaceful resolution, but were distrustful of anything more. It took the 1990 crisis with its nuclear dimension, to bring the United States back to the region.
Soviet Union, United states and China have different policies towards the Kashmir dispute according to their own interests. In the beginning all of them showed neutrality but with the changing world’s politics and dimensions, they formulate their concerns regarding Kashmir. China‘s Kashmir policy has passed through different stages. In first phase, from 1949 to 1960s, China avoided siding with either India or Pakistan; instead it favored a resolution of the issue through peaceful settlements and also opposed the role of UN and United States to mediate Kashmir issue.
The second phase started from early 1960s and lasted till 1970. Sino-Indian border war of 1962 started hostility between India and China resulted close relations with Pakistan. China stood by Pakistan on Kashmir issue with firm support for the right of self determination. But in 1970s, China adopted neutral policy on Kashmir issue as its relations were normal with India; this was reflected during Kargil conflict and Indo-Pak military possible conflict in 2001-2.
The normal relations between India and Pakistan on Kashmir would bring benefits to the United States. Indo-Pak tensions are especially dangerous because they bring two nuclear states on the brink of war. They divert Pakistan from fighting terrorists and militants on their own soils. India and Pakistan need to engage in combined bilateral talks on all important issues. Continuing tensions over Kashmir will weaken any initiative to bring stability to South Asia as well as bring about the risk of a nuclear war. It will be quite right by assuming that Kashmir is the root cause of much of the militancy in South Asia.
It is necessary for international community to realize that peace and stability in South Asia can only be guaranteed if all outstanding disputes between Pakistan and India, including the Kashmir dispute should be resolved because Pakistan has become a frontline state against the Global War of terrorism.The best solution of the Kashmir dispute could be the right of self determination which should be given to Kashmiris in order to give them the right to decide to whom they want to accede.