A Completely Free and Independent Kashmir

According to the mid-12th century text Rajatarangini the Kashmir Valley was formerly a lake. Hindu mythology relates that the lake was drained by the sage Kashyapa, by cutting a gap in the hills at Baramulla (Varaha-mula), and invited Brahmans to settle there. This remains the local tradition and Kashyapa is connected with the draining of the lake in traditional histories. The chief town or collection of dwellings in the valley is called Kashyapa-pura, which has been identified as Kaspapyros in Hecataeus (Apud Stephanus of Byzantium) and the Kaspatyros of Herodotus (3.102, 4.44). Kashmir is also believed to be the country indicated by Ptolemy’s Kaspeiria.

The Pashtun Durrani Empire ruled Kashmir in the 18th century until its 1819 conquest by the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh. The Raja of Jammu Gulab Singh, who was a vassal of the Sikh Empire and an influential noble in the Sikh court, sent expeditions to various border kingdoms and ended up encircling Kashmir by 1840. Following the First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–1846), Kashmir was ceded under the Treaty of Lahore to the East India Company, which transferred it to Gulab Singh through the Treaty of Amritsar, in return for the payment of indemnity owed by the Sikh empire. Gulab Singh took the title of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. From then until the 1947 Partition of India, Kashmir was ruled by the Maharajas of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu. According to the 1941 census, the state’s population was 77 percent Muslim, 20 percent Hindu and 3 percent others (Sikhs and Buddhists). Despite its Muslim majority, the princely rule was an overwhelmingly Hindu state.

British rule in India ended in 1947 with the creation of new states: the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India, as the successor states to British India. The British Paramountcy over the 562 Indian princely states ended. According to the Indian Independence Act 1947, “the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian States lapses, and with it, all treaties and agreements in force at the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty and the rulers of Indian States”. States were thereafter left to choose whether to join India or Pakistan or to remain independent. Jammu and Kashmir, the largest of the princely states, had a predominantly Muslim population ruled by the Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh. He decided to stay independent because he expected that the State’s Muslims would be unhappy with accession to India, and the Hindus and Sikhs would become vulnerable if he joined Pakistan. On 11 August, the Maharaja dismissed his prime minister Ram Chandra Kak, who had advocated independence. Observers and scholars interpret this action as a tilt towards accession to India. Pakistanis decided to preempt this possibility by wresting Kashmir by force if necessary.

Pakistan made various efforts to persuade the Maharaja of Kashmir to join Pakistan. In July 1947, Mohammad Ali Jinnah is believed to have written to the Maharaja promising “every sort of favourable treatment,” followed by lobbying of the State’s Prime Minister by leaders of Jinnah’s Muslim League party. Faced with the Maharaja’s indecision, the Muslim League agents clandestinely worked in Poonch to encourage the local Muslims to revolt. The authorities in Pakistani Punjab waged a `private war’ by obstructing supplies of fuel and essential commodities to the State. Later in September, Muslim League officials in the Northwest Frontier Province, including the Chief Minister Abdul Qayyum Khan, assisted and possibly organized a large-scale invasion of Kashmir by Pathan tribesmen. Several sources indicate that the plans were finalised on 12 September by the Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, based on proposals prepared by Colonel Akbar Khan and Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan. One plan called for organising an armed insurgency in the western districts of the state and the other for organising a Pushtoon tribal invasion. Both were set in motion.

The Jammu division of the state got caught up in the Partition violence. Large numbers of Hindus and Sikhs from Rawalpindi and Sialkot started arriving in March 1947, bringing “harrowing stories of Muslim atrocities.” This provoked counter-violence on Jammu Muslims, which had “many parallels with that in Sialkot.” According to scholar Ilyas Chattha, the “Kashmiri Muslims were to pay a heavy price in September–October 1947 for the earlier violence of West Punjab.” However, Chattha also states that the “Hindu Dogra state of Jammu and Kashmir” ordered the massacre of Muslims in the Jammu division with political motivations to ethnically cleanse the Muslim population and to ensure a non-Muslim majority in the Jammu region of the state.

The violence in the eastern districts of Jammu that started in September, developed into a widespread `massacre’ of Muslims around 20 October, organised by the Hindu Dogra troops of the State and perpetrated by the local Hindus, including members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and the Hindus and Sikhs displaced from the neighbouring areas of West Pakistan. The Maharaja himself was implicated in some instances. A team of British observers commissioned by India and Pakistan estimated 70,000 Muslims killed, whereas the Azad Kashmir Government claimed that 200,000 Muslims were killed. About 400,000 Muslims fled to West Pakistan, some of whom made their way to the western districts of Poonch and Mirpur, which were undergoing rebellion. Many of these Muslims believed that the Maharaja ordered the killings in Jammu. According to Christopher Snedden, these Jammu Muslims joined the uprising in Poonch and the western districts, and instigated the formation of the Azad Kashmir government.

The rebel forces in the western districts of Jammu got organised under the leadership of Sardar Ibrahim, a Muslim Conference leader. They took control of most of the western parts of the State by 22 October. On 24 October, they formed a provisional Azad Kashmir (free Kashmir) government based in Palandri.


Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan, the Maharaja’s nominee for his next prime minister, visited Nehru and Patel in Delhi on 19 September, requesting essential supplies which had been blockaded by Pakistan since the beginning of September. He communicated the Maharaja’s willingness to accede to India. Nehru, however, demanded that the jailed political leader, Sheikh Abdullah, be released from prison and involved in the state government. Only then would he allow the state to accede. The Maharaja released Sheikh Abdullah on 29 September. Before any further reforms were implemented, the Pakistani tribal invasion brought the matters to a head.

Maharaja’s troops, heavily outnumbered and outgunned and facing internal rebellions from Muslim troops, had no chance of withstanding the attack. The Maharaja made an urgent plea to Delhi for military assistance. Upon the Governor General Lord Mountbatten’s insistence, India required the Maharaja to accede before it could send troops. Accordingly, the Maharaja signed an instrument of accession on 26 October 1947, which was accepted by the Governor General the next day. While the Government of India accepted the accession, it added the proviso that it would be submitted to a “reference to the people” after the state is cleared of the invaders, since “only the people, not the Maharaja, could decide where Kashmiris wanted to live.” It was a provisional accession. National Conference, the largest political party in the State and headed by Sheikh Abdullah, endorsed the accession. In the words of the National Conference leader Syed Mir Qasim, India had the “legal” as well as “moral” justification to send in the army through the Maharaja’s accession and the people’s support of it.

The Indian troops, which were air lifted in the early hours of 27 October, secured the Srinagar airport. The city of Srinagar was being patrolled by the National Conference volunteers with Hindus and Sikhs moving about freely among Muslims, an “incredible sight” to visiting journalists. The National Conference also worked with the Indian Army to secure the city.

In the north of the state lay the Gilgit Agency, which had been leased by British India but returned to the Maharaja shortly before Independence. Gilgit’s population did not favour the State’s accession to India. Sensing their discontent, Major William Brown, the Maharaja’s commander of the Gilgit Scouts, mutinied on 1 November 1947, overthrowing the Governor Ghansara Singh. The bloodless coup d’etat was planned by Brown to the last detail under the code name `Datta Khel.’ Gilgit locals formed a provisional government (Aburi Hakoomat), naming Raja Shah Rais Khan as the president and Mirza Hassan Khan as the commander-in-chief. But, Major Brown had already telegraphed Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan asking Pakistan to take over. Pakistan’s Political Agent, Khan Mohammad Alam Khan, arrived on 16 November and took over the administration of Gilgit.

Indo-Pakistani War of 1947

Rebel forces from the western districts of the State and the Pakistani Pakhtoon tribesmen made rapid advances into the Baramulla sector. In the Kashmir valley, National Conference volunteers worked with the Indian Army to drive out the `raiders’. The resulting First Kashmir War lasted until the end of 1948.

The Pakistan army made available arms, ammunition and supplies to the rebel forces who were dubbed the `Azad Army’. Pakistani army officers `conveniently’ on leave and the former officers of the Indian National Army were recruited to command the forces. In May 1948, the Pakistani army officially entered the conflict, in theory to defend the Pakistan borders, but it made plans to push towards Jammu and cut the lines of communications of the Indian forces in the Mendhar valley. C. Christine Fair notes that this was the beginning of Pakistan using irregular forces and `asymmetric warfare’ to ensure plausible deniability, which has continued ever since.

On 1 November 1947, Mountbatten flew to Lahore for a conference with Jinnah, proposing that, in all the princely States where the ruler did not accede to a Dominion corresponding to the majority population (which would have included Junagadh, Hyderabad as well Kashmir), the accession should be decided by an `impartial reference to the will of the people’. Jinnah rejected the offer. According to Indian scholar A. G. Noorani Jinnah ended up squandering his leverage.

According to Jinnah, India acquired the accession through “fraud and violence.” A plebiscite was unnecessary and states should accede according to their majority population. He was willing to urge Junagadh to accede to India in return for Kashmir. For a plebiscite, Jinnah demanded simultaneous troop withdrawal for he felt that ‘the average Muslim would never have the courage to vote for Pakistan’ in the presence of Indian troops and with Sheikh Abdullah in power. When Mountbatten countered that the plebiscite could be conducted by the United Nations, Jinnah, hoping that the invasion would succeed and Pakistan might lose a plebiscite, again rejected the proposal, stating that the Governors Generals should conduct it instead. Mountbatten noted that it was untenable given his constitutional position and India did not accept Jinnah’s demand of removing Sheikh Abdullah.

Prime Ministers Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan met again in December, when Nehru informed Khan of India’s intention to refer the dispute to the United Nations under article 35 of the UN Charter, which allows the member states to bring to the Security Council attention situations `likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace’.

Indian leaders and Nehru knew very well that bulk of Muslims of Kashmir were against accession to India. Secretary in Patel’s Ministry of States, V.P. Menon, admitted in an interview in 1964 that India had been absolutely dishonest on the issue of plebiscite. A.G. Noorani blames many Indian and Pakistani leaders for misery of Kashmiri people but says that Nehru was the main villain.

UN mediation

India sought resolution of the issue at the UN Security Council, despite Sheikh Abdullah’s opposition to it. Following the set-up of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), the UN Security Council passed Resolution 47 on 21 April 1948. The measure called for an immediate cease-fire and called on the Government of Pakistan ‘to secure the withdrawal from the state of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the state for the purpose of fighting.’ It also asked Government of India to reduce its forces to minimum strength, after which the circumstances for holding a plebiscite should be put into effect ‘on the question of Accession of the state to India or Pakistan.’ However, it was not until 1 January 1949 that the ceasefire could be put into effect, signed by General Douglas Gracey on behalf of Pakistan and General Roy Bucher on behalf of India. However, both India and Pakistan failed to arrive at a truce agreement due to differences over interpretation of the procedure for and the extent of demilitarisation. One sticking point was whether the Azad Kashmiri army was to be disbanded during the truce stage or at the plebiscite stage.

The UNCIP made three visits to the subcontinent between 1948 and 1949, trying to find a solution agreeable to both India and Pakistan. It reported to the Security Council in August 1948 that “the presence of troops of Pakistan” inside Kashmir represented a “material change” in the situation. A two-part process was proposed for the withdrawal of forces. In the first part, Pakistan was to withdraw its forces as well as other Pakistani nationals from the state. In the second part, “when the Commission shall have notified the Government of India” that Pakistani withdrawal has been completed, India was to withdraw the bulk of its forces. After both the withdrawals were completed, a plebiscite would be held. The resolution was accepted by India but effectively rejected by Pakistan.

The Indian government considered itself to be under legal possession of Jammu and Kashmir by virtue of the accession of the state. The assistance given by Pakistan to the rebel forces and the Pakhtoon tribes was held to be a hostile act and the further involvement of the Pakistan army was taken to be an invasion of Indian territory. From the Indian perspective, the plebiscite was meant to confirm the accession, which was in all respects already complete, and Pakistan could not aspire to an equal footing with India in the contest.

The Pakistan government held that the state of Jammu and Kashmir had executed a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan which precluded it from entering into agreements with other countries. It also held that the Maharaja had no authority left to execute accession because his people had revolted and he had to flee the capital. It believed that the Azad Kashmir movement as well as the tribal incursions were indigenous and spontaneous, and Pakistan’s assistance to them was not open to criticism.

In short, India required an asymmetric treatment of the two countries in the withdrawal arrangements, regarding Pakistan as an `aggressor’, whereas Pakistan insisted on parity. The UN mediators tended towards parity, which was not to India’s satisfaction. In the end, no withdrawal was ever carried out, India insisting that Pakistan had to withdraw first, and Pakistan contending that there was no guarantee that India would withdraw afterwards. No agreement could be reached between the two countries on the process of demilitarisation.

Scholars have commented that the failure of the Security Council efforts of mediation owed to the fact that the Council regarded the issue as a purely political dispute without investigating its legal underpinnings. Declassified British papers indicate that Britain and US had let their Cold War calculations influence their policy in the UN, disregarding the merits of the case.

Dixon Plan

The 1950s saw the mediation by Sir Owen Dixon, the UN-appointed mediator, who came the closest to solving the Kashmir dispute in the eyes of many commentators. Dixon arrived in the subcontinent in May 1950 and, after a visit to Kashmir, proposed a summit between India and Pakistan. The summit lasted five days, at the end of which Dixon declared a state-wide plebiscite was impossible. Nehru then proposed a partition-cum-plebiscite plan: Jammu and Ladakh would go to India, Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas to Pakistan, and a plebiscite would be held in the Kashmir Valley. Dixon favoured the plan, which bears his name till this day. The sticking point was that Dixon proposed, following Liaquat Ali Khan’s objections, that Sheikh Abdullah administration should be held in “commission” (in abeyance) while the plebiscite was held. This was not acceptable to India. At that point, Dixon lost patience and declared failure. Dixon concluded that India would not agree to provisions governing the plebiscite that guard against influence and abuse ensuring a free and fair plebiscite. According to the pro-Pakistan, anti-Indian scholar Iftikhar Malik, Dixon privately felt that Nehru was ‘downright lying’ because of India remaining evasive despite Dixon’s shuttle diplomacy. The US ambassador Loy Henderson reported, “Dixon, however, had offered no alternative. He had taken [the] position there could be no fair plebiscite under Abdullah regime. It was on this issue and nothing else [that] discussions had broken down. [Government of India] was still willing to discuss direct with [Government of Pakistan] … solution involving partition with plebiscite in Vale…” Dixon’s premature withdrawal has been criticised, but perhaps Dixon had not realised how close he had come to solving the dispute.

1950 military standoff

In July 1950, Sheikh Abdullah sought to introduce far-reaching land reforms, but the Prince Regent Karan Singh insisted that they had to be carried out by a Legislative Assembly. Abdullah then proposed electing a Constituent Assembly, which was approved in April 1951. Abdullah wanted the Constituent Assembly decide the State’s accession. But this was not agreed to by India, which stated that the matter was being decided by the UN. Around this time, the Korean War broke out and the West grew anxious about defending the Middle East from possible communist attacks. They sought Pakistani help but were aware that Pakistan desired guarantees of security against an Indian attack. The international scene was in a flux.

Towards the end of 1950, sections of Pakistani leaders grew impatient about the lack of progress in the UN, and raised a hue and cry. The Prime Minister of North-West Frontier Province promised a jehad by the Pashtun population of Pakistan. The governor of Punjab declared that the “whole of Asia would be engulfed in a war”. The calls for a holy war reverberated through the Pakistani society. India grew anxious and raised the issue with the western powers. Receiving no response, following a rash of violent incidents in Kashmir Valley in June 1951 and reports of Pakistani troop movements, India decided to move its troops to the border. According to Nehru, “our lack of proper defenses on our frontiers would itself be an invitation to attack.” A military stand-off ensued, lasting from mid-July 1951 till the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan in October 1951. India resisted pressures from western powers for standing down, claiming that the troop deployment was a necessary deterrent. Meanwhile, the elections to the Constituent Assembly passed off peacefully, the Assembly convening on 31 October.

Nehru’s plebiscite offer

The peace was short-lived. By 1953, Sheikh Abdullah fell out with the Indian government and lost the support of his colleageues in his cabinet. He was dismissed and imprisoned in August 1953. His former deputy, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was appointed as the prime minister, and Indian security forces were deployed in the Valley to control the streets.

With India’s “abridged authority” in Kashmir, Nehru decided that a settlement must be found. India could not hold Kashmir “at the point of a bayonet”. Starting in July 1953, he made a renewed push on the plebiscite option in discussions with Pakistan. In August he proposed that a plebiscite administrator be appointed within six months. Other than demanding that the plebiscite administrator not be from one of the major powers, he placed no other conditions. Reversing his earlier policies, he suggested that the plebiscite could be held in all regions of the state and the state would be partitioned on the basis of the results. He was open to a “different approach” to the scaling back of troops in the State so as to allow a free vote.

Withdrawal of the plebiscite offer

However, by now, Pakistan was moving in a different direction. Using the opening created by the Korean War, Pakistan was aggressively pursuing American military aid. Two days after Liaquat Ali Khan’s assassination, Pakistani military delegation was in Washington to get as much military equipment as it could. The delegation expressed Pakistan’s readiness to participate in defending the Middle East even if the US were to pay no attention to Pakistan’s security against India. Pakistan regarded India’s behaviour during the military stand-off as “aggressive”, as one that needed a military response. As the US-Pakistan Mutual Defence Pact was taking shape, Nehru warned Pakistan that Pakistan had a choice between winning Kashmir through a plebiscite or pursuing a military alliance with the US. If such a pact were to be concluded, Nehru said, the situation would change dramatically and “all problems would be seen in a new light”. Consequently, when the pact was concluded in 1954, Nehru withdrew the plebiscite offer and declared that the status quo was the only remaining option.

Nehru’s withdrawal from the plebiscite option came a major blow to all concerned. Some have suggested that India was never seriously intent on holding a plebiscite and the withdrawal came to signify a vindication of their belief. Scholar Mahesh Shankar, who studied the matter in detail, finds that there is no basis for such an assessment. He cites numerous public and private statements of Nehru to demonstrate that he was intent on holding a plebiscite even after Sheikh Abdullah was imprisoned and India’s chances of winning the plebiscite presumably became negligible. The reason for withdrawing from the “plebiscite offer” was that Nehru became thoroughly disillusioned with Pakistan’s “bona fides”, its policy of “venom and enmity againt India”, its “neurotic mood and hostile actions”, the strong mood of jehad at the highest echelons in Pakistan, its inability to formally agree to a plebiscite for two months after the offer was made, and its policy based on “threat and bullying” where “appeasement only leads to more bullying”. “Any surrender” by India to “this kind of aggression would lead to continuing aggression elsewhere”. The US–Pakistan pact was seen as a yet another step in this direction. It was expected to “facilitate and encourage aggression”. The military pact made the prospect of losing Kashmir strategically unacceptable as it made Pakistan the predominant security threat to India. The militarily stronger Pakistan expected to speak to India from a position of strength, engulfed in a talk of jehad. India’s response had to be, in Nehru’s view, an even greater firmness to deny Pakistan its perception of an increased bargaining strength. Having offered the status quo as the last option, Nehru even took that off the table once Pakistan rejected it. No further commitments would be made until “India’s honour as a country is not vindicated”.

Indian writer Nirad C. Chaudhuri has observed that Pakistan’s acceptance of Western support ensured its survival. He believed that India intended to invade Pakistan twice or thrice during the period 1947–1954. For scholar Wayne Wilcox, Pakistan was able to find external support to counter “Hindu superiority”, returning to the group security position of the early 20th century.

Sino-Indian War

In 1962, troops from the People’s Republic of China and India clashed in territory claimed by both. China won a swift victory in the war, resulting in Chinese annexation of the region they call Aksai Chin and which has continued since then. Another smaller area, the Trans-Karakoram, was demarcated as the Line of Control (LOC) between China and Pakistan, although some of the territory on the Chinese side is claimed by India to be part of Kashmir. The line that separates India from China in this region is known as the “Line of Actual Control”.

Operation Gibraltar and 1965 Indo-Pakistani war

Following its failure to seize Kashmir in 1947, Pakistan supported numerous `covert cells’ in Kashmir using operatives based in its New Delhi embassy. After its military pact with the United States in the 1950s, it intensively studied guerrilla warfare through engagement with the US military. In 1965, it decided that the conditions were ripe for a successful guerilla war in Kashmir. Code named `Operation Gibraltar’, companies were dispatched into Indian-administered Kashmir, the majority of whose members were razakars (volunteers) and mujahideen recruited from Pakitan-administered Kashmir and trained by the Army. These irregular forces were supported by officers and men from the paramilitary Northern Light Infantry and Azad Kashmir Rifles as well as commandos from the Special Services Group. About 30,000 infiltrators are estimated to have been dispatched in August 1965 as part of the `Operation Gibraltar’.

The plan was for the infiltrators to mingle with the local populace and incite them to rebellion. Meanwhile, guerilla warfare would commence, destroying bridges, tunnels and highways, as well as Indian Army installations and airfields, creating conditions for an `armed insurrection’ in Kashmir. If the attempt failed, Pakistan hoped to have raised international attention to the Kashmir issue. Using the newly acquired sophisticated weapons through the American arms aid, Pakistan believed that it could achieve tactical victories in a quick limited war.

However, the `Operation Gibraltar’ ended in failure as the Kashmiris did not revolt. Instead, they turned in infiltrators to the Indian authorities in substantial numbersa, and the Indian Army ended up fighting the Pakistani Army regulars. Pakistan claimed that the captured men were Kashmiri `freedom fighters’, a claim contradicted by the international media. On 1 September, Pakistan launched an attack across the Cease Fire Line, targeting Akhnoor in an effort to cut Indian communications into Kashmir. In response, India broadened the war by launching an attack on Pakistani Punjab across the international border. The war lasted till 23 September, ending in a stalemate. Following the Tashkent Agreement, both the sides withdrew to their pre-conflict positions, and agreed not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs.

1971 Indo-Pakistani war and Simla Agreement

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 led to a loss for Pakistan and a military surrender in East Pakistan. Bangladesh got created as a separate state with India’s support and India emerged as a clear regional power in South Asia.

A bilateral summit was held at Simla as a follow-up to the war, where India pushed for peace in South Asia. At stake were 5,139 square miles of Pakistan’s territory captured by India during the conflict, and over 90,000 prisoners of war held in Bangladesh. India was ready to return them in exchange for a “durable solution” to the Kashmir issue. Diplomat J. N. Dixit states that the negotiations at Simla were painful and tortuous, and almost broke down. The deadlock was broken in a personal meeting between the Prime Ministers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indira Gandhi, where Bhutto acknowledged that the Kashmir issue should be finally resolved and removed as a hurdle in India-Pakistan relations; that the cease-fire line, to be renamed the Line of Control, could be gradually converted into a de jure border between India and Pakistan; and that he would take steps to integrate the Pakistani-controlled portions of Jammu and Kashmir into the federal territories of Pakistan. However, he requested that the formal declaration of the Agreement should not include a final settlement of the Kashmir dispute as it would endanger his fledgling civilian government and bring in military and other hardline elements into power in Pakistan.

Accordingly, the Simla Agreement was formulated and signed by the two countries, whereby the countries resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations and to maintain the sanctity of the Line of Control. Multilateral negotiations were not ruled out, but they were conditional upon both sides agreeing to them. To India, this meant an end to the UN or other multilateral negotiations. However Pakistan reinterpreted the wording in the light of a reference to the “UN charter” in the agreement, and maintained that it could still approach the UN. The United States, United Kingdom and most Western governments agree with India’s interpretation.

The Simla Agreement also stated that the two sides would meet again for establishing durable peace. Reportedly Bhutto asked for time to prepare the people of Pakistan and the National Assembly for a final settlement. Indian commentators state that he reneged on the promise. Bhutto told the National Assembly on 14 July that he forged an equal agreement from an unequal beginning and that he did not compromise on the right of self-determination for Jammu and Kashmir. The envisioned meeting never occurred.

Internal conflict

Political movements during the Dogra rule

Political movements in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir started in 1932, earlier than in any other princely state of India. In that year, Sheikh Abdullah, a Kashmiri, and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, a Jammuite, led the founding of the All-Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference in order to agitate for the rights of Muslims in the state’s functioning. In 1938, they renamed the party National Conference in order to make it representative of all Kashmiris independent of religion. The move brought Abdullah closer to Jawaharlal Nehru, the rising leader of the Congress party. The National Conference eventually became a leading member of the All-India States Peoples’ Conference, a Congress-sponsored confederation of the political movements in the princely states.

Three years later, a rift developed between Abdullah and Abbas regarding the rotation of the party leadership, a prior “gentleman’s agreement” not honoured by Abdullah. Consequently, Abbas broke away from the National Conference and revived the old Muslim Conference in 1941, in collaboratin with Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah. These developments indicated fissures between the Kashmiris and Jammuites as well as between the Hindus and Muslims of Jammu. The Muslim Conference started supporting the All-India Muslim League and its call for an independent `Pakistan’. In due course, it developed into a client of the Muslim League in the state. However, the appeal of the Muslim Conference was limited to the Muslims of the Jammu province, with especial strength in the Jammu, Mirpur and Poonch districts. Chitralekha Zutshi states that the political loyalties of Valley Kashmiris were divided in 1947, but the Muslim Conference failed to capitalise on it due its fractiousness and the lack of a distinct political programme.

In 1946, the National Conference launched the `Quit Kashmir’ movement, asking the Maharaja to hand the power over to the people. The Muslim Conference opposed the movement, claiming that Abdullah was doing it to boost his own popularity. Instead, the Muslim Conference launched a `campaign of action’ similar to Muslim League’s programme in British India. Both Abdullah and Abbas were imprisoned. By 22 July 1947, the Muslim Conference started supporting the state’s accession to Pakistan.

The Dogra Hindus of Jammu were originally organised under the banner of All Jammu and Kashmir Rajya Hindu Sabha, with Prem Nath Dogra as a leading member. In 1942, Balraj Madhok arrived in the state as a pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He established branches of the RSS in Jammu and later in the Kashmir Valley. Prem Nath Dogra was also the chairman (sanghchalak) of the RSS in Jammu. In May 1947, following the Partition plan, the Hindu Sabha threw in its support to whatever the Maharaja might decide regarding the state’s status, which in effect meant support for the state’s independence. However, following the communal upheaval of the Partition and the tribal invasion, its position changed to supporting the accession of the state to India and, subsequently, full integration of Jammu with India. In November 1947, shortly after the state’s accession to India, the Hindu leaders launched the Jammu Praja Parishad with the objective of achieving the “full integration” of Jammu and Kashmir with India, opposing the “communist-dominated anti-Dogra government of Sheikh Abdullah.”

Maximum autonomy (1947–1953)

Article 370 drafted in the Indian constitution grants special autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This article specifies that the State must concur in the application of laws by Indian parliament, except those that pertain to Communications, Defence, Finance, and Foreign Affairs. Sheikh Abdullah took oath as Prime Minister of the state on 17 March 1948. In 1949, the Indian government obliged Hari Singh to leave Jammu and Kashmir and yield the government to Sheikh Abdullah. Dr. Karan Singh, the son of the erstwhile Maharajah Hari Singh was made the Sadr-i-Riyasat (Constitutional Head of State) and the Governor of the state.

Period of integration (1953–1974)

Nehru pledged a referendum to people of Kashmir. When this did not happen, Sheikh Abdullah reportedly advocated complete independence and had allegedly joined hands with Pakistan and US to conspire against India. On 8 August 1953 Sheikh Abdullah was dismissed as Prime Minister by the Sadr-i-Riyasat Karan Singh on the charge that he had lost the confidence of his cabinet. He was denied the opportunity to prove his majority on the floor of the house. Later he was also jailed in 1953 after the infamous Kashmir Conspiracy Case while Delhi appointed Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad as the new Prime Minister of the state. On 15th February 1954, under the leadership of Bakshi Mohammad, the Constituent Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir ratified the state’s accession to India. Following the overthrow of Sheikh Abdullah, his lieutenant Mirza Afzal Beg formed the Plebiscite Front on 9 August 1955 to fight for the plebiscite demand and the unconditional release of Sheikh Abdullah. On 8 April 1964 the State Government dropped all charges in the Kashmir Conspiracy Case as a diplomatic decision. Sheikh Abdullah was released and returned to Srinagar where he was accorded an unprecedented welcome by the people of the valley. After his release he was reconciled with Nehru. Nehru requested Sheikh Abdullah to act as a bridge between India and Pakistan and make President Ayub to agree to come to New Delhi for talks for a final solution of the Kashmir problem. President Ayub Khan also sent telegrams to Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah with the message that as Pakistan too was a party to the Kashmir dispute any resolution of the conflict without its participation would not be acceptable to Pakistan. This paved the way for Sheikh Abdullah’s visit to Pakistan to help broker a solution to the Kashmir problem. Sheikh Abdullah went to Pakistan in the spring of 1964. President Ayub Khan of Pakistan held extensive talks with him to explore various avenues for solving the Kashmir problem and agreed to come to Delhi in mid June for talks with Nehru as suggested by him. Even the date of his proposed visit was fixed and communicated to New Delhi. On 27 May while he was en route to Muzaffarabad in Pakistani Administered Kashmir, news came of the sudden death of Nehru and the Sheikh after addressing a public rally at Muzaffarabad returned to Delhi. After Nehru’s death in 1964, he was interned from 1965 to 1968 and exiled from Kashmir in 1971 for 18 months. The Plebiscite Front was also banned. This was allegedly done to prevent him and the Plebiscite Front which was supported by him from taking part in elections in Kashmir. According to professor Mridu Rai, “for three decades Delhi’s handpicked politicians in Kashmir had supported the State’s accession to India in return for generous disbursements from Delhi. State elections were conducted in Jammu and Kashmir but except for the 1977 and 1983 elections no state election was fair”. Kashmiri Pandit activist Prem Nath Bazaz wrote that if free elections were held the majority of seats would be won by those not friendly to India. Shortly after 1965 war Bazaz also wrote, that the overwhelming majority of Kashmir’s Muslims were unfriendly to India and wanted to get rid of the political setup but did not want to use violence for this purpose. In 1966 an Indian opposition leader Jayaprakash wrote to Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi that India rules Kashmir by force.

Revival of National Conference (1975–1989)

In 1971, the declaration of Bangladesh’s independence was proclaimed on 26 March by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and subsequently the Bangladesh Liberation War broke out in erstwhile East Pakistan between Pakistan and Bangladesh which was later joined by India, and subsequently war broke out on the western border of India between India and Pakistan, both of which culminated in the creation of Bangladesh. It is said that, Sheikh Abdullah watching the alarming turn of events in the subcontinent realized that for the survival of this region there was an urgent need to stop pursuing confrontational politics and promoting solution of issues by a process of reconciliation and dialogue rather than confrontation. Critics of Sheikh hold the view that he gave up the cherished goal of plebiscite for gaining Chief Minister’s chair. He started talks with the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for normalizing the situation in the region and came to an accord called 1975 Indira-Sheikh accord with Indira Gandhi, then India’s Prime Minister, by giving up the demand for a plebiscite in lieu of the people being given the right to self-rule by a democratically elected Government (as envisaged under article 370 of the Constitution of India) rather than the puppet government which till then ruled the State. He assumed the position of Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. The Central Government and the ruling Congress Party withdrew its support so that the State Assembly had to be dissolved and mid term elections called. Sheikh’s party National Conference won an overwhelming majority in the subsequent elections and Sheikh Abdullah was re-elected as Chief Minister again after 11 years. He remained as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir till his death in 1982. Later his son Farooq Abdullah succeeded him as the Chief Minister of the state.

Post-1987 insurgency

1987 state elections

In 1983, learned men of Kashmiri politics testified that Kashmiris had always wanted to be independent. But the more serious-minded among them also realised that this is not possible, considering Kashmir’s size and borders. In the run-up to the 1987 Legislative Assembly elections, several religious Muslim political organisations in favour of a plebiscite such as the Jamaat-e Islami, Jamaat-e-Tulba, Ummat–e-Islami, Jamiat-Ahl-e-Hadis, Anjuman-Tahfaz-ul-Islam, Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen and the Muslim Employees Front banded together to form the Muslim United Front (MUF). Their election campaign revolved round a commitment to Islamicise Kashmiri society with the imposition of Nizam e Mustafa (system based on Islamic Shariah) in Kashmir.

The Muslim United Front (MUF) in 1987 contested the 1987 Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections. The Muslim United Front was expected to win approximately 20 seats but it received victory in only 4 of the 43 electoral constituencies despite its high vote share of 31 per cent (this means that its official vote in the Valley was larger than one-third). Scholar Sumantra Bose says the most likely scenario if the 1987 election was free and fair was that the Muslim United Front would have won most of the constituencies in the Kashmir Valley and a few in the Jammu region and would emerge holding at least 30 out of 76 seats. The elections were widespreadly believed to have been rigged by the ruling party National Conference, allied with the Indian National Congress.

BBC reported that Khem Lata Wukhloo, who was a leader of the Congress party at the time, admitted the widespread rigging in Kashmir. He stated:

“I remember that there was a massive rigging in 1987 elections. The losing candidates were declared winners. It shook the ordinary people’s faith in the elections and the democratic process.”

1989 popular insurgency and militancy

In the years since 1990, the Kashmiri Muslims and the Indian government have conspired to abolish the complexities of Kashmiri civilization. The world it inhabited has vanished: the state government and the political class, the rule of law, almost all the Hindu inhabitants of the valley, alcohol, cinemas, cricket matches, picnics by moonlight in the saffron fields, schools, universities, an independent press, tourists and banks. In this reduction of civilian reality, the sights of Kashmir are redefined: not the lakes and Mogul gardens, or the storied triumphs of Kashmiri agriculture, handicrafts and cookery, but two entities that confront each other without intermediary: the mosque and the army camp.

— British journalist James Buchan

In 1989, a widespread popular and armed insurgency started in Kashmir. After the 1987 state legislative assembly election, some of the results were disputed. This resulted in the formation of militant wings and marked the beginning of the Mujahadeen insurgency, which continues to this day. India contends that the insurgency was largely started by Afghan mujahadeen who entered the Kashmir valley following the end of the Soviet-Afghan War. Yasin Malik, a leader of one faction of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, was one of the Kashmiris to organise militancy in Kashmir, along with Ashfaq Majid Wani and Farooq Ahmed Dar (alias Bitta Karate). Since 1995, Malik has renounced the use of violence and calls for strictly peaceful methods to resolve the dispute. Malik developed differences with one of the senior leaders, Farooq Siddiqui (alias Farooq Papa), for shunning demands for an independent Kashmir and trying to cut a deal with the Indian Prime Minister. This resulted in a split in which Bitta Karate, Salim Nanhaji, and other senior comrades joined Farooq Papa. Pakistan claims these insurgents are Jammu and Kashmir citizens, and are rising up against the Indian army as part of an independence movement. Amnesty International has accused security forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir of exploiting an Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act that enables them to “hold prisoners without trial”. The group argues that the law, which allows security forces to detain individuals for up to two years without presenting charges violates prisoners’ human rights. In 2011, the state humans right commission said it had evidence that 2,156 bodies had been buried in 40 graves over the last 20 years. The authorities deny such accusations. The security forces say the unidentified dead are militants who may have originally come from outside India. They also say that many of the missing people have crossed into Pakistan-administered Kashmir to engage in militancy. However, according to the state human rights commission, among the identified bodies 574 were those of “disappeared locals”, and according to Amnesty International’s annual human rights report (2012) it was sufficient for “belying the security forces’ claim that they were militants”.

India claims these insurgents are Islamic terrorist groups from Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Afghanistan, fighting to make Jammu and Kashmir a part of Pakistan. They claim Pakistan supplies munitions to the terrorists and trains them in Pakistan. India states that the terrorists have killed many citizens in Kashmir and committed human rights violations whilst denying that their own armed forces are responsible for human rights abuses. On a visit to Pakistan in 2006, former Chief Minister of Kashmir Omar Abdullah remarked that foreign militants were engaged in reckless killings and mayhem in the name of religion. The Indian government has said militancy is now on the decline.

The Pakistani government calls these insurgents “Kashmiri freedom fighters”, and claims that it provides them only moral and diplomatic support, although India believes they are Pakistan-supported terrorists from Pakistan Administered Kashmir. In October 2008, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan called the Kashmir separatists “terrorists” in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. These comments sparked outrage amongst many Kashmiris, some of whom defied a curfew imposed by the Indian army to burn him in effigy.

In 2008, pro-separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told the Washington Post that there has been a “purely indigenous, purely Kashmiri” peaceful protest movement alongside the insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir since 1989. The movement was created for the same reason as the insurgency and began after the disputed election of 1987. According to the United Nations, the Kashmiris have grievances with the Indian government, specifically the Indian Military, which has committed human rights violations.

1999 Conflict in Kargil

In mid-1999, alleged insurgents and Pakistani soldiers from Pakistani Kashmir infiltrated Jammu and Kashmir. During the winter season, Indian forces regularly move down to lower altitudes, as severe climatic conditions makes it almost impossible for them to guard the high peaks near the Line of Control. This practice is followed by both India and Pakistan Army. The terrain makes it difficult for both sides to maintain a strict border control over Line of Control. The insurgents took advantage of this and occupied vacant mountain peaks in the Kargil range overlooking the highway in Indian Kashmir that connects Srinagar and Leh. By blocking the highway, they could cut off the only link between the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. This resulted in a large-scale conflict between the Indian and Pakistani armies. The final stage involved major battles by Indian and Pakistani forces resulting in India recapturing most of the territories held by Pakistani forces.

Fears of the Kargil War turning into a nuclear war provoked the then-United States President Bill Clinton to pressure Pakistan to retreat. The Pakistan Army withdrew their remaining troops from the area, ending the conflict. India regained control of the Kargil peaks, which they now patrol and monitor all year long.

Al-Qaeda involvement

In a ‘Letter to American People’ written by Osama bin Laden in 2002, he stated that one of the reasons he was fighting America was because of its support for India on the Kashmir issue. While on a trip to Delhi in 2002, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld suggested that Al-Qaeda was active in Kashmir, though he did not have any hard evidence. An investigation by a Christian Science Monitor reporter in 2002 claimed to have unearthed evidence that Al-Qaeda and its affiliates were prospering in Pakistan-administered Kashmir with tacit approval of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI). In 2002, a team comprising Special Air Service and Delta Force personnel was sent into Indian-administered Kashmir to hunt for Osama bin Laden after reports that he was being sheltered by the Kashmiri militant group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. US officials believed that Al-Qaeda was helping organise a campaign of terror in Kashmir to provoke conflict between India and Pakistan. Their strategy was to force Pakistan to move its troops to the border with India, thereby relieving pressure on Al-Qaeda elements hiding in northwestern Pakistan. US intelligence analysts say Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives in Pakistan-administered Kashmir are helping terrorists trained in Afghanistan to infiltrate Indian-administered Kashmir. Fazlur Rehman Khalil, the leader of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, signed al-Qaeda’s 1998 declaration of holy war, which called on Muslims to attack all Americans and their allies. In 2006 Al-Qaeda claim they have established a wing in Kashmir, which worried the Indian government. Indian Army Lieutenant General H.S. Panag, GOC-in-C Northern Command, told reporters that the army has ruled out the presence of Al-Qaeda in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. He said that there no evidence to verify media reports of an Al-Qaeda presence in the state. He ruled out Al-Qaeda ties with the militant groups in Kashmir including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. However, he stated that they had information about Al Qaeda’s strong ties with Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed operations in Pakistan. While on a visit to Pakistan in January 2010, US Defense secretary Robert Gates stated that Al-Qaeda was seeking to destabilise the region and planning to provoke a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

In June 2011, a US Drone strike killed Ilyas Kashmiri, chief of Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, a Kashmiri militant group associated with Al-Qaeda. Kashmiri was described by Bruce Riedel as a ‘prominent’ Al-Qaeda member, while others described him as the head of military operations for Al-Qaeda. Waziristan had by then become the new battlefield for Kashmiri militants fighting NATO in support of Al-Qaeda. Ilyas Kashmiri was charged by the US in a plot against Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper at the center of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. In April 2012, Farman Ali Shinwari a former member of Kashmiri separatist groups Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, was appointed chief of al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

Reasons behind the dispute

The Kashmir Conflict arose from the Partition of British India in 1947 into modern India and Pakistan. Both countries subsequently made claims to Kashmir, based on the history and religious affiliations of the Kashmiri people. The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which lies strategically in the north-west of the subcontinent bordering Afghanistan and China, was formerly ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh under the paramountcy of British India. In geographical and legal terms, the Maharaja could have joined either of the two new countries. Although urged by the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, to determine the future of his state before the transfer of power took place, Singh demurred. In October 1947, incursions by Pakistan took place leading to a war, as a result of which the state of Jammu and Kashmir remains divided between India and Pakistan.

Administered by Area Population  % Muslim  % Hindu  % Buddhist  % Other
India Kashmir valley ~4 million 95% 4%
Jammu ~3 million 30% 66% 4%
Ladakh ~0.25 million 46% 50% 3%
Pakistan Gilgit-Baltistan ~1 million 99%
Azad Kashmir ~2.6 million 100%
China Aksai Chin
  • Statistics from the BBC report “In Depth”
  • 525,000 refugees from Indian-administered Kashmir migrated to Pakistan and Azad Kashmir in 1947–48.
  • 226,000 refugees from Pakistan-administered Kashmir migrated to India and Jammu and Kashmir in 1947–48.
  • A minimum of 506,000 people in the Indian Administered Kashmir valley are internally displaced due to militancy in Kashmir about half of who are Hindu pandits CIA
  • Muslims form the majority in the Poonch, Rajouri, Kishtwar, and Doda districts of the Jammu region. Shia Muslims make up the majority in the Kargil district in the Ladakh region.
  • India does not accept the two-nation theory and considers that Kashmir, despite being a Muslim-majority state, is in many ways an “integral part” of secular India. It is also worth noting that India has a Muslim population close to 177 Million very close to Pakistan which has a Muslim population of 178 Million. In fact, as per 2001 Census Muslim population in the State of Uttar Pradesh (in India) alone was around 30 million more than Jammu & Kashmir which is at around 6 million.

Two-thirds of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, comprising Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, and the sparsely populated Buddhist area of Ladakh are controlled by India while one-third is administered by Pakistan. The latter includes a narrow strip of land called Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas, comprising the Gilgit Agency, Baltistan, and the former kingdoms of Hunza and Nagar. Attempts to resolve the dispute through political discussions have been unsuccessful. In September 1965, war again broke out between Pakistan and India. The United Nations called for another cease-fire, and peace was restored following the Tashkent Declaration in 1966, by which both nations returned to their original positions along the demarcated line. After the 1971 war and the creation of independent Bangladesh under the terms of the 1972 Simla Agreement between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, it was agreed that neither country would seek to alter the cease-fire line in Kashmir, which was renamed as the Line of Control, “unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations”.

Numerous violations of the Line of Control have occurred, including incursions by insurgents and Pakistani armed forces at Kargil leading to the Kargil war. There have also been sporadic clashes on the Siachen Glacier, where the Line of Control is not demarcated and both countries maintain forces at altitudes rising to 20,000 ft (6,100 m), with the Indian forces serving at higher altitudes.

Indian view

Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession in October 1947 under which he acceded the State of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India.

India has officially stated that it believes that Kashmir to be an integral part of India, though the then Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, stated after the 2010 Kashmir Unrest that his government was willing to grant autonomy to the region within the purview of Indian constitution if there was consensus among political parties on this issue. The Indian viewpoint is succinctly summarised by Ministry of External affairs, Government of India —

  • India holds that the Instrument of Accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India, signed by Maharaja Hari Singh (erstwhile ruler of the State) on 25 October 1947 and executed on 27 October 1947 between the ruler of Kashmir and the Governor General of India was a legal act and completely valid in terms of the Government of India Act (1935), Indian Independence Act (1947) as well as under international law and as such was total and irrevocable.
  • The Constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir had unanimously ratified the Maharaja’s Instrument of Accession to India and adopted a constitution for the state that called for a perpetual merger of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India. India claims that the constituent assembly was a representative one, and that its views were those of the Kashmiri people at the time.
  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1172 tacitly accepts India’s stand regarding all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan and urges the need to resolve the dispute through mutual dialogue without the need for a plebiscite in the framework of UN Charter.
  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 47 cannot be implemented since Pakistan failed to withdraw its forces from Kashmir, which was the first step in implementing the resolution. India is also of the view that Resolution 47 is obsolete, since the geography and demographics of the region have permanently altered since it adoption. The resolution was passed by United Nations Security Council under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter and as such is non-binding with no mandatory enforceability, as opposed to resolutions passed under Chapter VII.
  • India does not accept the two-nation theory that forms the basis of Pakistan’s claims and considers that Kashmir, despite being a Muslim-majority state, is in many ways an “integral part” of secular India.
  • The state of Jammu and Kashmir was provided with significant autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
  • All differences between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir, need to be settled through bilateral negotiations as agreed to by the two countries under the Simla Agreement signed on 2 July 1972.

Additional Indian viewpoints regarding the broader debate over the Kashmir conflict include –

  • In a diverse country like India, disaffection and discontent are not uncommon. Indian democracy has the necessary resilience to accommodate genuine grievances within the framework of India’s sovereignty, unity, and integrity. The Government of India has expressed its willingness to accommodate the legitimate political demands of the people of the state of Kashmir.
  • Insurgency and terrorism in Kashmir is deliberately fuelled by Pakistan to create instability in the region. The Government of India has repeatedly accused Pakistan of waging a proxy war in Kashmir by providing weapons and financial assistance to terrorist groups in the region.
  • Pakistan is trying to raise anti-India sentiment among the people of Kashmir by spreading false propaganda against India. According to the state government of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistani radio and television channels deliberately spread “hate and venom” against India to alter Kashmiri opinion.
  • India has asked the United Nations not to leave unchallenged or unaddressed the claims of moral, political, and diplomatic support for terrorism, which were clearly in contravention of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373. This is a Chapter VII resolution that makes it mandatory for member states to not provide active or passive support to terrorist organisations. Specifically, it has pointed out that the Pakistani government continues to support various terrorist organisations, such as Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, in direct violation of this resolution.
  • India points out reports by human rights organisations condemning Pakistan for the lack of civic liberties in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. According to India, most regions of Pakistani Kashmir, especially Northern Areas, continue to suffer from lack of political recognition, economic development, and basic fundamental rights.
  • Karan Singh, the son of the last ruler of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu, has said that the Instrument of Accession signed by his father was the same as signed by other states. He opined that Kashmir was therefore a part of India, and that its special status granted by Article 370 of the Indian Constitution stemmed from the fact that it had its own constitution.

According to poll in an Indian newspaper Indians were keener to keep control of Kashmir than Pakistanis. 67% of urban Indians want New Delhi to be in full control of Kashmir.

Michigan State University scholar Baljit Singh, interviewing Indian foreign policy experts in 1965, found that 77 percent of them favoured discussions with Pakistan on all outstanding problems including the Kashmir dispute. However, only 17 percent were supportive of holding a plebiscite in Kashmir. The remaining 60 percent were pessimistic of a solution due to a distrust of Pakistan or a perception of threatss to India’s internal institutions. They contended that India’s secularism was far from stable and the possibility of Kashmir separating from India or joining Pakistan would endanger Hindu–Muslim relations in India.

In 2008, the death toll from the last 20 years was estimated by Indian authorities to be over 47,000.

Pakistani view

Pakistan maintains that Kashmir is the “jugular vein of Pakistan” and a currently disputed territory whose final status must be determined by the people of Kashmir. Pakistan’s claims to the disputed region are based on the rejection of Indian claims to Kashmir, namely the Instrument of Accession. Pakistan insists that the Maharaja was not a popular leader, and was regarded as a tyrant by most Kashmiris. Pakistan maintains that the Maharaja used brute force to suppress the population.

Pakistan claims that Indian forces were in Kashmir before the Instrument of Accession was signed with India, and that therefore Indian troops were in Kashmir in violation of the Standstill Agreement, which was designed to maintain the status quo in Kashmir (although India was not signatory to the Agreement, which was signed between Pakistan and the Hindu ruler of Jammu and Kashmir).

From 1990 to 1999, some organisations reported that the Indian Armed Forces, its paramilitary groups, and counter-insurgent militias were responsible for the deaths of 4,501 Kashmiri civilians. During the same period, there were records of 4,242 women between the ages of 7–70 being raped. Similar allegations were also made by some human rights organisations.

In short, Pakistan holds that –

  • The popular Kashmiri insurgency demonstrates that the Kashmiri people no longer wish to remain within India. Pakistan suggests that this means that Kashmir either wants to be with Pakistan or independent.
  • According to the two-nation theory, one of the principles that is cited for the partition that created India and Pakistan, Kashmir should have been with Pakistan, because it has a Muslim majority.
  • India has shown disregard for the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the United Nations Commission in India and Pakistan by failing to hold a plebiscite to determine the future allegiance of the state.
  • The reason for India’s disregard of the resolutions of the UN Security Council was given by India’s Defense Minister, Kirshnan Menon, who said: “Kashmir would vote to join Pakistan and no Indian Government responsible for agreeing to plebiscite would survive.”
  • Pakistan was of the view that the Maharaja of Kashmir had no right to call in the Indian Army, because it held that the Maharaja of Kashmir was not a hereditary ruler and was merely a British appointee, after the British defeated Ranjit Singh who ruled the area before the British conquest.
  • Pakistan has noted the widespread use of extrajudicial killings in Indian-administered Kashmir carried out by Indian security forces while claiming they were caught up in encounters with militants. These encounters are commonplace in Indian-administered Kashmir. The encounters go largely uninvestigated by the authorities, and the perpetrators are spared criminal prosecution.
  • Pakistan disputes claims by India with reference to the Simla Agreement that UN resolutions on Kashmir have lost their relevance. It argues that legally and politically, UN Resolutions cannot be superseded without the UN Security Council adopting a resolution to that effect. It also maintains the Simla Agreement emphasised exploring a peaceful bilateral outcome, without excluding the role of UN and other negotiations. This is based on its interpretation of Article 1(i) stating “the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries”.

Human rights organisations have strongly condemned Indian troops for widespread rape and murder of innocent civilians while accusing these civilians of being militants.

  • The Chenab formula was a compromise proposed in the 1960s, in which the Kashmir valley and other Muslim-dominated areas north of the Chenab river would go to Pakistan, and Jammu and other Hindu-dominated regions would go to India.

A poll by Indian newspaper shows 48% of Pakistanis want Islamabad in full control of Kashmir. 47% of Pakistanis support Kashmiri independence.

Former Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf on 16 October 2014 said that Pakistan needs to incite those fighting in Kashmir, “We have source (in Kashmir) besides the (Pakistan) army…People in Kashmir are fighting against (India). We just need to incite them,” Musharraf told a TV channel.

In 2015 Pakistan’s outgoing National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan wished to have third party mediation on Kashmir, but it was unlikely to happen unless by international pressure. “Under Shimla Accord it was decided that India and Pakistan would resolve their disputes bilaterally,” Aziz said. “Such bilateral talks have not yielded any results for the last 40 years. So then what is the solution?”

Chinese view

China states that Aksai Chin is an integral part of China and does not recognise the inclusion of Aksai Chin as part of the Kashmir region.

  • China did not accept the boundaries of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu, north of Aksai Chin and the Karakoram as proposed by the British.
  • China settled its border disputes with Pakistan under the 1963 Trans Karakoram Tract with the provision that the settlement was subject to the final solution of the Kashmir dispute.

Kashmiri views

Scholar Andrew Whitehead states that Kashmiris view Kashmir as having been ruled by their own in 1586. Since then, they believe, it has been ruled in succession by the Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs, Dogras and, lately, the Indian government. Whitehead states that this is only partly true: the Mughals lavished much affection and resources on Kashmir, the Dogras made Srinagar their capital next only to their native Jammu city, and through much of the post-independence India, Kashmiri Muslims headed the state government. Yet Kashmiris bear an ‘acute sense of grievance’ that they were not in control of their own fate for centurues.

  • A G Noorani says the people of Kashmir are ‘very much’ a party to the dispute.
  • According to an opinion poll conducted by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in 2007, 87% of people in mainly Muslim Srinagar want independence, whereas 95% of the people in the mainly Hindu Jammu city think the state should be part of India. The Kashmir Valley is the only region of the former princely state where the majority of the population is unhappy with its current status. The Hindus of Jammu and Buddhists of Ladakh are content under Indian administration. Muslims of Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas are content under Pakistani administration. Kashmir Valley’s Muslims want to change their national status to independence.
  • Scholar A.G. Noorani testifies that Kashmiris want a plebiscite to achieve freedom. Zutshi states the people of Poonch and Gilgit may have had a chance to determine their future but the Kashmiri was lost in the process.
  • Since the 1947 accession of Kashmir was provisional and conditional on the wishes of the people, Kashmiris’ right to determine their future was recognised. Noorani notes that state elections do not satisfy this requirement.
  • Kashmiris assert that except for 1977 and 1983 elections, no state election has been fair. According to scholar Sumantra Bose, India was determined to stop fair elections since that would have meant that elections would be won by those unfriendly to India.
  • The Kashmiri people have still not been able to exercise the right to self-determination and this was the conclusion of the International Commission of Jurists in 1994.
  • Ayesha Parvez writes in The Hindu that high voter turnout in Kashmir cannot be interpreted as a sign of acceptance of Indian rule. Voters vote due to varying factors such as development, effective local governance and economy.
  • The Hurriyat parties do not want to participate in elections under the framework of the Indian Constitution. Elections held by India are seen as a diversion from the main issue of self-determination.
  • Kashmiri opponents to Indian rule maintain that India has stationed 600,000 Indian troops in what is the highest ratio of troops to civilian density in the world.
  • Kashmiri scholars say that India’s military occupation inflicts violence and humiliation on Kashmiris. Indian forces are responsible for human rights abuses and terror against the local population and have killed tens of thousands of civillians. India’s state forces have used rape as a cultural weapon of war against Kashmiris and rape has extraordinarily high incidence in Kashmir as compared to other conflict zones of the world. Militants are also guilty of crimes but their crimes cannot be compared with the scale of abuses by Indian forces for which justice is yet to be delivered.
  • Kashmiri scholars say that India’s reneging on promise of plebiscite, violations of constitutional provisions of Kashmir’s autonomy and subversion of the democratic process led to the rebellion of 1989–1990.
  • According to scholar Mridu Rai, the majority of Kashmiri Muslims believe they are scarcely better off under Indian rule than the 101 years of Dogra rule.
  • According to lawyer and human rights activist K. Balagopal, Kashmiris have a distinct sense of identity and this identity is certainly not irreligious, as Islam is very much a part of the identity that Kashmiris feel strongly for. He opined that, if only non-religious identities deserve support, then no national self-determination movement can be supported, because there is no national identity  – at least in the Third World –  devoid of the religious dimension. Balagopal says that if India and Pakistan cannot guarantee existence and peaceful development of independent Kashmir then Kashmiris may well choose Pakistan because of religious affinity and social and economic links. But if both can guarantee existence and peaceful development then most Kashmiris would prefer independent Kashmir.

Cross-border troubles

The border and the Line of Control separating Indian and Pakistani Kashmir passes through some exceptionally difficult terrain. The world’s highest battleground, the Siachen Glacier, is a part of this difficult-to-man boundary. Even with 200,000 military personnel, India maintains that it is infeasible to place enough men to guard all sections of the border throughout the various seasons of the year. Pakistan has indirectly acquiesced its role in failing to prevent “cross-border terrorism” when it agreed to curb such activities after intense pressure from the Bush administration in mid-2002.

The Government of Pakistan has repeatedly claimed that by constructing a fence along the line of control, India is violating the Shimla Accord. India claims the construction of the fence has helped decrease armed infiltration into Indian-administered Kashmir.

In 2002, Pakistani President and Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf promised to check infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir.

Water dispute

Another reason for the dispute over Kashmir is water. Kashmir is the source of many rivers and tributaries in the Indus River basin. This basin is divided between Pakistan, which has about 60 percent of the catchment area, India with about 20 percent, Afghanistan with 5 percent and around 15 percent in China (Tibet autonomous region). The river tributaries are the Jhelum and Chenab rivers, which primarily flow into Pakistan, while other branches—the Ravi, Beas, and the Sutlej—irrigate northern India.

The Indus is a river system that sustains communities in India and Pakistan. Both have extensively dammed the Indus River for irrigation of their crops and hydro-electricity systems. In arbitrating the conflict in 1947, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, decided to demarcate the territories as he was unable to give to one or the other the control over the river as it was a main economic resource for both areas. The Line of Control (LoC) was recognised as an international border establishing that India would have control over the upper riparian and Pakistan over the lower riparian of the Indus and its tributaries. Despite appearing to be separate issues, the Kashmir dispute and the dispute over the water control are in reality related and the fight over the water remains one of the main problems in establishing good relations between the two countries.

In 1948, Eugene Black, then president of the World Bank, offered his services to solve the tension over water control. In the early days of independence, the fact that India was able to shut off the Central Bari Doab Canals at the time of the sowing season, causing significant damage to Pakistan’s crops. Nevertheless, military and political clashes over Kashmir in the early years of independence appear to have been more about ideology and sovereignty rather than over the sharing of water resources. However, the minister of Pakistan has stated the opposite.

The Indus Waters Treaty was signed by both countries in September 1960, giving exclusive rights over the three western rivers of the Indus river system (Jhelum, Chenab and Indus) to Pakistan, and over the three eastern rivers (Sutlej, Ravi and Beas) to India, as long as this does not reduce or delay the supply to Pakistan. India therefore maintains that they are not willing to break the established regulations and they see no more problems with this issue.

Pakistan’s relation with militants

India has furnished documentary evidence to the United Nations that Pakistan supports Kashmiri militants, leading to a ban on some terrorist organisations, which Pakistan has yet to enforce. Former President of Pakistan and the ex-chief of the Pakistan military Pervez Musharraf, stated in an interview in London, that the Pakistani government indeed helped to form underground militant groups and “turned a blind eye” towards their existence.

According to former Indian Prime-minister Manmohan Singh, one of the main reasons behind the conflict was Pakistan’s “terror-induced coercion”. He further stated at a Joint Press Conference with United States President Barack Obama in New Delhi that India is not afraid of resolving all the issues with Pakistan including that of Kashmir “but it is our request that you cannot simultaneously be talking and at the same time the terror machine is as active as ever before. Once Pakistan moves away from this terror-induced coercion, we will be very happy to engage productively with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues.

In 2009, the President of Pakistan Asif Zardari asserted at a conference in Islamabad that Pakistan had indeed created Islamic militant groups as a strategic tool for use in its geostrategic agenda and “to attack Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir”. Former President of Pakistan and the ex-chief of the Pakistan military Pervez Musharraf also stated in an interview that Pakistani government helped to form underground militant groups to fight against Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir and “turned a blind eye” towards their existence because it wanted to force India to enter negotiations. The British Government have formally accepted that there is a clear connection between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and three major militant outfits operating in Jammu and Kashmir, Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. The militants are provided with “weapons, training, advice and planning assistance” in Punjab and Kashmir by the ISI which is “coordinating the shipment of arms from the Pakistani side of Kashmir to the Indian side, where Muslim insurgents are waging a protracted war“.

Throughout the 1990s, the ISI maintained its relationship with extremist networks and militants that it had established during the Afghan war to utilise in its campaign against Indian forces in Kashmir. Joint Intelligence/North (JIN) has been accused of conducting operations in Jammu and Kashmir and also Afghanistan. The Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau (JSIB) provide communications support to groups in Kashmir. According to Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, both former members of the National Security Council, the ISI acted as a “kind of terrorist conveyor belt” radicalising young men in the Madrassas of Pakistan and delivering them to training camps affiliated with or run by Al-Qaeda and from there moving them into Jammu and Kashmir to launch attacks.

Reportedly, about Rs. 24 million are paid out per month by the ISI to fund its activities in Jammu and Kashmir. Pro-Pakistani groups were reportedly favoured over other militant groups. Creation of six militant groups in Kashmir, which included Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), was aided by the ISI. According to American Intelligence officials, ISI is still providing protection and help to LeT. The Pakistan Army and ISI also LeT volunteers to surreptitiously penetrate from Pakistan Administrated Kashmir to Jammu and Kashmir.

In the past, Indian authorities have alleged several times that Pakistan has been involved in training and arming underground militant groups to fight Indian forces in Kashmir.

Human rights abuse

Indian administered Kashmir

Human rights abuses such as extrajudicial killings and rapes have been committed by Indian forces in Kashmir. Militants have also committed crimes but their crimes pale in comparison to the crimes of Indian forces.

The 2010 Chatham House opinion poll of the people of Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir found that overall concern, in the entire state, over human rights abuses was 43%. In the surveyed districts of the Muslim majority Kashmir Valley, where the desire for Independence is strongest, there was a high rate of concern over human rights abuses. (88% in Baramulla, 87% in Srinagar, 73% in Anantnag and 55% in Badgam). However, in the Hindu majority and Buddhist majority areas of the state, where pro-India sentiment is extremely strong, concern over human rights abuses was low (only 3% in Jammu expressed concerns over human rights abuses).

According to Hon. Edolphus Towns of the American House of Representatives, around 90,000 Kashmiri Muslims have been killed by the Indian government since 1988. Human Rights Watch says armed militant organizations in Kashmir have also targeted civilians, although not to the same extent as the Indian security forces.

Since 1989, over 50,000 people are claimed to have died during the conflict. Data released in 2011 by Jammu and Kashmir government stated that, in the last 21 years, 43,460 people have been killed in the Kashmir insurgency. Of these, 21,323 are militants, 13,226 civilians killed by militants, 3,642 civilians killed by security forces, and 5,369 policemen killed by militants, according to the Jammu and Kashmir government data.

In its report of September 2006, Human Rights Watch stated that,

Indian security forces claim they are fighting to protect Kashmiris from militants and Islamic extremists, while militants claim they are fighting for Kashmiri independence and to defend Muslim Kashmiris from an abusive Indian army. In reality, both sides have committed widespread and numerous human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law (or the laws of war).

Human Rights Watch also blamed Pakistan for supporting militants in Kashmir, in same 2006 report it says, “There is considerable evidence that over many years Pakistan has provided Kashmiri militants with training, weapons, funding and sanctuary. Pakistan remains accountable for abuses committed by militants that it has armed and trained.”

Some human rights organisations have alleged that Indian Security forces have killed hundreds of Kashmiris through the indiscriminate use of force and torture, firing on demonstrations, custodial killings, encounters and detensions. The government of India denied that torture was widespread and stated that some custodial crimes may have taken place but that “these are few and far between”. According to one human rights report in Kashmir there have been more than three hundred cases of “disappearances” since 1990. State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has found 2,730 bodies buried into unmarked graves scattered all over Kashmir believed to contain the remains of victims of unlawful killings and enforced disappearances by Indian security forces. SHRC stated that about 574 of these bodies have already been identified as those of disappeared locals. SHRC also accused Indian army of forced labour. According to cables leaked by the WikiLeaks website, US diplomats in 2005 were informed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) about the use of torture and sexual humiliation against hundreds of Kashmiri detainees by the security forces. The cable said Indian security forces relied on torture for confessions and that the human right abuses are believed to be condoned by the Indian government. In 2012, the Jammu and Kashmir State government stripped its State Information Commission (SIC) department of most powers after the commission asked the government to disclose information about the unmarked graves. This state action was reportedly denounced by the former National Chief Information Commissioner. A state government inquiry into the 22 October 1993 Bijbehara killings, in which the Indian military fired on a procession and killed 40 people and injured 150, found out that the firing by the forces was ‘unprovoked’ and the claim of the military that it was in retaliation was ‘concocted and baseless’. However, the accused are still to be punished.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch,

Indian security forces have assaulted civilians during search operations, tortured and summarily executed detainees in custody and murdered civilians in reprisal attacks. Rape most often occurs during crackdowns, cordon-and-search operations during which men are held for identification in parks or schoolyards while security forces search their homes. In these situations, the security forces frequently engage in collective punishment against the civilian population, most frequently by beating or otherwise assaulting residents, and burning their homes. Rape is used as a means of targetting women whom the security forces accuse of being militant sympathizers; in raping them, the security forces are attempting to punish and humiliate the entire community.

The allegation of mass rape incidents as well as forced disappearances are reflected in a Kashmiri short documentary film by an Independent Kashmiri film-maker, the Ocean of Tears produced by a non-governmental non-profit organisation called the Public Service Broadcasting Trust of India and approved by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India). The film also depicts mass rape incidents in Kunan Poshpora and Shopian as facts and alleging that Indian Security Forces were responsible. A report from the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) claimed that the seven people killed in 2000 by the Indian military, were innocent civilians. The Indian Army has decided to try the accused in the General Court Martial. It was also reported that the killings that were allegedly committed in “cold-blood” by the Army, were actually in retaliation for the murder of 36 civilians [Sikhs] by militants at Chattisingpora in 2000. The official stance of the Indian Army was that, according to its own investigation, 97% of the reports about human rights abuses have been found to be “fake or motivated”. However, there have been at least one case where civilians have been killed in ‘fake encounters’ by Indian army personnel for cash rewards.

Our people were killed. I saw a girl tortured with cigarette butts. Another man had his eyes pulled out and his body hung on a tree. The armed separatists used a chainsaw to cut our bodies into pieces. It wasn’t just the killing but the way they tortured and killed.

— A crying old Kashmiri Hindu in refugee camps of Jammu told BBC news reporter

The violence was condemned and labelled as ethnic cleansing in a 2006 resolution passed by the United States Congress. It stated that the Islamic terrorists infiltrated the region in 1989 and began an ethnic cleansing campaign to convert Kashmir into a Muslim state. According to the same resolution, since then nearly 400,000 Pandits were either murdered or forced to leave their ancestral homes.

According to a Hindu American Foundation report, the rights and religious freedom of Kashmiri Hindus have been severely curtailed since 1989, when there was an organised and systematic campaign by Islamist militants to cleanse Hindus from Kashmir. Less than 4,000 Kashmiri Hindus remain in the valley, reportedly living with daily threats of violence and terrorism.

According to an op-ed published in a BBC journal, the emphasis of the movement after 1989, ″soon shifted from nationalism to Islam.″ It also claimed that the minority community of Kashmiri Pandits, who have lived in Kashmir for centuries, were forced to leave their homeland.

The displaced Pandits, many of who continue to live in temporary refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi, are still unable to safely return to their homeland. The lead in this act of ethnic cleansing was initially taken by the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front and the Hizbul Mujahideen. According to Indian media, all this happened at the instigation of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) by a group of Kashmiri terrorist elements who were trained, armed and motivated by the ISI. Reportedly, organisations trained and armed by the ISI continued this ethnic cleansing until practically all the Kashmiri Pandits were driven out after having been subjected to numerous indignities and brutalities such as rape of their women, torture, forcible seizure of property etc. The separatists in Kashmir deny these allegations. The Indian government is also trying to reinstate the displaced Pandits in Kashmir. Tahir, the district commander of a separatist Islamic group in Kashmir, stated: “We want the Kashmiri Pandits to come back. They are our brothers. We will try to protect them.” But the majority of the Pandits, who have been living in pitiable conditions in Jammu, believe that, until insurgency ceases to exist, return is not possible.

Mustafa Kamal, brother of Union Minister Farooq Abdullah, blamed security forces, former Jammu and Kashmir governor Jagmohan and PDP leader Mufti Sayeed for forcing the migration of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. Jagmohan denies these allegations.

Reports by the Indian government state 219 Kashmiri pandits were killed and around 140,000 migrated due to millitancy while over 3000 remained in the valley. The local organisation of pandits in Kashmir, Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti claimed that 399 Kashmiri Pandits were killed by insurgents. Al Jazeera states that 650 Pandits were murdered by militants.

The CIA has reported that at least 506,000 people from Indian Administered Kashmir are internally displaced, about half of who are Hindu PanditsThe United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCR) reports that there are roughly 1.5 million refugees from Indian-administered Kashmir, the bulk of who arrived in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and in Pakistan after the situation on the Indian side worsened in 1989 insurgency.

Médecins Sans Frontières conducted a research survey in 2005 that found 11.6% of the interviewees who took part had been victims of sexual abuse since 1989. Some surveys have found that in the Kashmir region itself (where the bulk of separatist and Indian military activity is concentrated), popular perception holds that the Indian Armed Forces are more to blame for human rights violations than the separatist groups. Amnesty International has called on India to “unequivocally condemn enforced disappearances” and to ensure that impartial investigations are conducted into mass graves in its Kashmir region. The Indian state police confirms as many as 331 deaths while in custody and 111 enforced disappearances since 1989. Amnesty International criticised the Indian Military regarding an incident on 22 April 1996, when several armed forces personnel forcibly entered the house of a 32-year-old woman in the village of Wawoosa in the Rangreth district of Jammu and Kashmir. They reportedly molested her 12-year-old daughter and raped her other three daughters, aged 14, 16, and 18. When another woman attempted to prevent the soldiers from attacking her two daughters, she was beaten. Soldiers reportedly told her 17-year-old daughter to remove her clothes so that they could check whether she was hiding a gun. They molested her before leaving the house.

Several international agencies and the UN have reported human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir. In a recent press release the OHCHR spokesmen stated “The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is concerned about the recent violent protests in Indian-administered Kashmir that have reportedly led to civilian casualties as well as restrictions to the right to freedom of assembly and expression.” A 1996 Human Rights Watch report accuses the Indian military and Indian-government backed paramilitaries of “committ[ing] serious and widespread human rights violations in Kashmir.” One such alleged massacre occurred on 6 January 1993 in the town of Sopore. TIME Magazine described the incident as such: “In retaliation for the killing of one soldier, paramilitary forces rampaged through Sopore’s market, setting buildings ablaze and shooting bystanders. The Indian government pronounced the event ‘unfortunate’ and claimed that an ammunition dump had been hit by gunfire, setting off fires that killed most of the victims.” There have been claims of disappearances by the police or the army in Kashmir by several human rights organisations.

Many human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have condemned human rights abuses in Kashmir by Indians such as “extra-judicial executions”, “disappearances”, and torture. The “Armed Forces Special Powers Act” grants the military, wide powers of arrest, the right to shoot to kill, and to occupy or destroy property in counterinsurgency operations. Indian officials claim that troops need such powers because the army is only deployed when national security is at serious risk from armed combatants. Such circumstances, they say, call for extraordinary measures. Human rights organisations have also asked the Indian government to repeal the Public Safety Act, since “a detainee may be held in administrative detention for a maximum of two years without a court order.” A 2008 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees determined that Indian Administered Kashmir was only ‘partly free’. A recent report by Amnesty International stated that up to 20,000 people have been detained under a law called AFSPA in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Pakistan administered Kashmir

Azad Kashmir

The 2010 Chatham House opinion poll of Azad Kashmir’s people found that overall concerns about human rights abuses in ‘Azad Kashmir’ was 19%. The district where concern over human rights abuses was greatest was Bhimber where 32% of people expressed concern over human rights abuses. The lowest was in the district of Sudanhoti where concern over human rights abuses was a mere 5%.

Claims of religious discrimination and restrictions on religious freedom in Azad Kashmir have been made against Pakistan. The country is also accused of systemic suppression of free speech and demonstrations against the government. UNHCR reported that a number of Islamist militant groups, including al-Qaeda, operate from bases in Pakistani-administered Kashmir with the tacit permission of ISI. There have also been several allegations of human rights abuse.

In 2006, Human Rights Watch accused ISI and the military of systemic torture with the purpose of “punishing” errant politicians, political activists and journalists in Azad Kashmir. A report titled “Kashmir: Present Situation and Future Prospects”, submitted to the European Parliament by Emma Nicholson, was critical of the lack of human rights, justice, democracy, and Kashmiri representation in the Pakistan National Assembly. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan’s ISI operates in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and is accused of involvement in extensive surveillance, arbitrary arrests, torture, and murder. The 2008 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees determined that Pakistan-administered Kashmir was ‘not free’. According to Shaukat Ali, chairman of the International Kashmir Alliance, “On one hand Pakistan claims to be the champion of the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people, but she has denied the same rights under its controlled parts of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan”.

After the 2011 elections, Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmad Khan stated that there were mistakes in the voters list which have raised questions about the credibility of the elections.

In December 1993, the blasphemy laws of Pakistan were extended to Pakistan Administered Kashmir. The area is ruled directly through a chief executive Lt. Gen. Mohammed Shafiq, appointed by Islamabad with a 26-member Northern Areas Council.

UNCR reports that the status of women in Pakistani-administered Kashmir is similar to that of women in Pakistan. They are not granted equal rights under the law, and their educational opportunities and choice of marriage partner remain “circumscribed”. Domestic violence, forced marriage, and other forms of abuse continue to be issues of concern. In May 2007, the United Nations and other aid agencies temporarily suspended their work after suspected Islamists mounted an arson attack on the home of two aid workers after the organisations had received warnings against hiring women. However, honour killings and rape occur less frequently than in other areas of Pakistan.


The main demand of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan is constitutional status for the region as a fifth province of Pakistan. However, Pakistan claims that Gilgit-Baltistan cannot be given constitutional status due to Pakistan’s commitment to the 1948 UN resolution. In 2007, the International Crisis Group stated that “Almost six decades after Pakistan’s independence, the constitutional status of the Federally Administered Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan), once part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and now under Pakistani control, remains undetermined, with political autonomy a distant dream. The region’s inhabitants are embittered by Islamabad’s unwillingness to devolve powers in real terms to its elected representatives, and a nationalist movement, which seeks independence, is gaining ground. The rise of sectarian extremism is an alarming consequence of this denial of basic political rights”. A two-day conference on Gilgit-Baltistan was held on 8–9 April 2008 at the European Parliament in Brussels under the auspices of the International Kashmir Alliance. Several members of the European Parliament expressed concern over human rights violations in Gilgit-Baltistan and urged the government of Pakistan to establish democratic institutions and the rule of law in the area.

In 2009, the Pakistani government implemented an autonomy package for Gilgit-Baltistan, which entails rights similar to those of Pakistan’s other provinces. Gilgit-Baltistan thus gains province-like status without actually being conferred such status constitutionally. Direct rule by Islamabad has been replaced by an elected legislative assembly under a chief minister.

There has been criticism and opposition to this move in Pakistan, India, and Pakistan administrated Kashmir. The move has been dubbed a cover-up to hide the real mechanics of power, which allegedly are under the direct control of the Pakistani federal government. The package was opposed by Pakistani Kashmiri politicians who claimed that the integration of Gilgit-Baltistan into Pakistan would undermine their case for the independence of Kashmir from India. 300 activists from Kashmiri groups protested during the first Gilgit-Baltistan legislative assembly elections, with some carrying banners reading “Pakistan’s expansionist designs in Gilgit-Baltistan are unacceptable”

In December 2009, activists from nationalist Kashmiri groups staged a protest in Muzaffarabad to condemn the alleged rigging of elections and the killing of an 18-year-old student.

United Nations’ map of Jammu and Kashmir

As with other disputed territories, each government issues maps depicting their claims in Kashmir territory, regardless of actual control. Due to India’s Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1961, it is illegal in India to exclude all or part of Kashmir from a map (or to publish any map that differs from those of the Survey of India). It is illegal in Pakistan not to include the state of Jammu and Kashmir as disputed territory, as permitted by the United Nations. 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, while the region is often marked out in hashmarks. When Microsoft released a map in Windows 95 and MapPoint 2002, a controversy arose because it did not show all of Kashmir as part of India as per the Indian claim. All neutral and Pakistani companies claim to follow the UN’s map and over 90% of all maps containing the territory of Kashmir show it as disputed territory.

Recent developments

India continues to assert its sovereignty or rights over the entire region of Kashmir, while Pakistan maintains that it is a disputed territory. Pakistan argues that the status quo cannot be considered as a solution and further insists on a UN-sponsored plebiscite. Unofficially, the Pakistani leadership has indicated that they would be willing to accept alternatives such as a demilitarised 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—effectively re-partitioning Kashmir on communal lines. The problem with the proposal is that the population of the Pakistan-administered portion of Kashmir is for the most part ethnically, linguistically, and culturally different from the Valley of Kashmir, a part of Indian-administered Kashmir. Partition based on the Chenab formula is opposed by some Kashmiri politicians, although others, including Sajjad Lone, have suggested that the non-Muslim part of Jammu and Kashmir be separated from Kashmir and handed to India. Some political analysts say that the Pakistan state policy shift and mellowing of its aggressive stance may have to do with its total failure in the Kargil War and the subsequent 9/11 attacks. These events put pressure on Pakistan to alter its position on terrorism. Many neutral parties to the dispute have noted that the UN resolution on Kashmir is no longer relevant. The European Union holds the view that the plebiscite is not in Kashmiris’ interest. The report notes that the UN conditions for such a plebiscite have not been, and can no longer be, met by Pakistan. The Hurriyat Conference observed in 2003 that a “plebiscite [is] no longer an option”. Besides the popular factions that support one or other of the 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 a long while, and there have been no significant changes over the years. As a result, all efforts to solve the conflict have so far proved futile.

Revelations made on 24 September 2013 by the former Indian army chief General V. K. Singh claim that the state politicians of Jammu and Kashmir are funded by the army secret service to keep the general public calm and that this activity has been going on since Partition. He also stated that the secret service paid a bribe to a politician to topple the state government, which was pushing for AFSPA repeal in 2010.

In a 2001 report entitled “Pakistan’s Role in the Kashmir Insurgency” from the American RAND Corporation, the think tank noted that “the nature of the Kashmir conflict has been transformed from what was originally a secular, locally based struggle (conducted via the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front – JKLF) to one that is now largely carried out by foreign militants and rationalized in pan-Islamic religious terms.” The majority of militant organisations are composed of foreign mercenaries, mostly from the Pakistani Punjab. In 2010, with the support of its intelligence agencies, Pakistan again ‘boosted’ Kashmir militants, and recruitment of mujahideen in the Pakistani state of Punjab has increased. In 2011, the FBI revealed that Pakistan’s spy agency ISI paid millions of dollars into a United States-based non-governmental organisation to influence politicians and opinion-makers on the Kashmir issue and arrested Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai.

The Freedom in the World 2006 report categorised Indian-administered Kashmir as “partly free”, and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, as well as the country of Pakistan, as “not free”. India claims that contrary to popular belief, a large proportion of the Jammu and Kashmir populace wishes to remain with India. A MORI survey found that within Indian-administered Kashmir, 61% of respondents said they felt they would be better off as Indian citizens, with 33% saying that they did not know, and the remaining 6% favouring Pakistani citizenship. However, this support for India was mainly in the Ladakh and Jammu regions, not the Kashmir Valley, where only 9% of the respondents said that they would be better off with India. According to a 2007 poll conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, 87% of respondents in the Kashmir Valley prefer independence over union with India or Pakistan. However, a survey by Chatham House in both Indian and Pakistani administered Kashmir found that support for independence stood at 43% and 44% respectively.

The 2005 Kashmir earthquake, which killed over 80,000 people, led to India and Pakistan finalising negotiations for the opening of a road for disaster relief through Kashmir.

Efforts to end the crisis

The 9/11 attacks on the United States resulted in the US government wanting to restrain militancy in the world, including Pakistan. They urged Islamabad to cease infiltrations, which continue to this day, by Islamist militants into Indian-administered Kashmir. In December 2001, a terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament linked to Pakistan resulted in war threats, massive troop deployments, and international fears of a nuclear war in the subcontinent.

After intensive diplomatic efforts by other countries, India and Pakistan began to withdraw troops from the international border on 10 June 2002, and negotiations restarted. From 26 November 2003, India and Pakistan agreed to maintain a ceasefire along the undisputed international border, the disputed Line of Control, and Actual Ground Position Line near the Siachen glacier. This was the first such “total ceasefire” declared by both powers in nearly 15 years. In February 2004, Pakistan increased pressure on Pakistanis fighting in Indian-administered Kashmir to adhere to the ceasefire. Their neighbours launched several other mutual confidence-building measures. Restarting the bus service between the Indian- and Pakistani- administered Kashmir has helped defuse tensions between the countries while both India and Pakistan have decided to co-operate on economic fronts.

In 2005, General Musharraf as well as other Pakistani leaders sought to resolve the Kashmir issue through the Chenab Formula road map. Based on the ‘Dixon Plan’, the Chenab Formula assigns Ladakh to India, Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) to Pakistan, proposes a plebiscite in the Kashmir Valley and splits Jammu into two-halves. On 5 December 2006, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told an Indian TV channel that Pakistan would give up its claim on Kashmir if India accepted some of his peace proposals, including a phased withdrawal of troops, self-governance for locals, no changes in the borders of Kashmir, and a joint supervision mechanism involving India, Pakistan, and Kashmir. Musharraf stated that he was ready to give up the United Nations’ resolutions regarding Kashmir.

2008 militant attacks

In the week of 10 March 2008, 17 people were wounded when a blast hit the region’s only highway overpass located near the civil secretariat—the seat of government of Indian-controlled Kashmir—and the region’s high court. A gun battle between security forces and militants fighting against Indian rule left five people dead and two others injured on 23 March 2008. The battle began when security forces raided a house on the outskirts of the capital city of Srinagar housing militants. The Indian Army has been carrying out cordon-and-search operations against militants in Indian-administered Kashmir since the violence broke out in 1989. While the authorities say 43,000 people have been killed in the violence, various human rights groups and non-governmental organisations have put the figure at twice that number.

According to the Government of India Home Ministry, 2008 was the year with the lowest civilian casualties in 20 years, with 89 deaths, compared to a high of 1,413 in 1996. In 2008, 85 security personnel died compared to 613 in 2001, while 102 militants were killed. The human rights situation improved, with only one custodial death, and no custodial disappearances. Many analysts say Pakistan’s preoccupation with jihadis within its own borders explains the relative calm.

2008 Kashmir protests

Massive demonstrations occurred after plans by the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir state government to transfer 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land to a trust which runs the Hindu Amarnath shrine in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley. This land was to be used to build a shelter to house Hindu pilgrims temporarily during their annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath temple. Such demonstrations have been aloof of the fact that the India government very regularly undertakes activities for upliftment of Muslim community (as a secular government)and very regularly donates lands and other properties to the systemized Waqf Boards.

Indian security forces and the Indian army responded quickly to keep order. More than 40 unarmed protesters were killed and at least 300 were detained. The largest protests saw more than a half million people waving Pakistani flags and crying for freedom at a rally on 18 August, according to Time magazine. Pro-independence Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq warned that the peaceful uprising could lead to an upsurge in violence if India’s heavy-handed crackdown on protests was not restrained. The United Nations expressed concern at India’s response to peaceful protests and urged investigations be launched against Indian security personnel who had taken part in the crackdown.

Separatists and political party workers were believed to be behind stone-throwing incidents, which have led to retaliatory fire from the police. An autorickshaw laden with stones meant for distribution was seized by the police in March 2009. Following the unrest in 2008, secessionist movements got a boost.

2008 Kashmir elections

State elections were held in Indian administered Kashmir in seven phases, starting on 17 November and finishing on 24 December 2008. In spite of calls by separatists for a boycott, an unusually high turnout of more than 60% was recorded. The National Conference party, which was founded by Sheikh Abdullah and is regarded as pro-India, emerged with a majority of the seats. On 30 December, the Congress Party and the National Conference agreed to form a coalition government, with Omar Abdullah as Chief Minister. On 5 January 2009, Abdullah was sworn in as the eleventh Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

In March 2009, Abdullah stated that only 800 militants were active in the state and out of these only 30% were Kashmiris.

2009 Kashmir protests

In 2009, protests started over the alleged rape and murder of two young women in Shopian in South Kashmir. Suspicion pointed towards the police as the perpetrators. A judicial enquiry by a retired High Court official confirmed the suspicion, but a CBI enquiry reversed their conclusion. This gave fresh impetus to popular agitation against India. Significantly, the unity between the separatist parties was lacking this time.

2010 Kashmir Unrest

The 2010 Kashmir unrest was series of protests in the Muslim majority Kashmir Valley in Jammu and Kashmir which started in June 2010. These protests involved the ‘Quit Jammu Kashmir Movement’ launched by the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who had called for the complete demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir. The All Parties Hurriyat Conference made this call to protest, citing human rights abuses by Indian troops. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah attributed the 2010 unrest to the fake encounter staged by the military in Machil. Protesters shouted pro-independence slogans, defied curfews, attacked security forces with stones and burnt police vehicles and government buildings. The Jammu and Kashmir Police and Indian para-military forces fired live ammunition on the protesters, resulting in 112 deaths, including many teenagers. The protests subsided after the Indian government announced a package of measures aimed at defusing the tensions in September 2010.

2014 Jammu and Kashmir Elections

The Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly election, 2014 was held in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in five phases from 25 November – 20 December 2014. Despite repeated boycott calls by separarist Hurriyat leaders, elections recorded highest voters turnout in last 25 years, that is more than 65% which is more than usual voting percentage in other states of India.

Voting phases in 2014 Jammu & Kashmir Assembly Elections

J & K 2014 elections voters turnout
Date Seats Turnout
Tuesday 25 November 15 71.28%
Tuesday 2 December 18 71%
Tuesday 9 December 16 58.89%
Sunday 14 December 18 49%
Saturday 20 December 20 76%
Total 87 65.23%

The European Parliament, on the behalf of European Union, welcomed the smooth conduct of the State Legislative Elections in the Jammu and Kashmir. The EU in its message said that, “The high voter turnout figure proves that democracy is firmly rooted in India. The EU would like to congratulate India and its democratic system for conduct of fair elections, unmarred by violence, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir”. The European Parliament also takes cognizance of the fact that a large number of Kashmiri voters turned out despite calls for the boycott of elections by certain separatist forces.

October 2014

In October 2014, Indian and Pakistani troops traded gunfire over their border in the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, killing at least four civilians and worsening tensions between the longtime rivals, officials on both sides have said. The small-arms and mortar exchanges – which Indian officials called the worst violation of a 2003 ceasefire – left 18 civilians wounded in India and another three in Pakistan. Tens of thousands of people fled their homes on both sides after the violence erupted on 5 October. Official reports state that nine civilians in Pakistan and seven in India were killed in three nights of fighting.

July 2016

On 8 July 2016, a popular militant leader Burhan Muzaffar Wani was cornered by the security forces and killed. Following his death, protests and demonstrations have taken root leading to an “amplified instability” in the Kashmir valley. Curfews have been imposed in all 10 districts of Kashmir and over 40 civilians died and over 2000 injured in clashes with the police. More than 600 have pellet injuries who may lose their eyesight. To prevent volatile rumours, cellphone and internet services have been blocked, and newspapers have also been restricted in many parts of the state.

September 2016

An attack by four militants on an Indian Army base on 18 September 2016, also known as the 2016 Uri attack, resulted in the death of 19 soldiers as well as the militants themselves. Although no-one claimed responsibility for the attack, the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed was suspected of involvement by the Indian authorities.

The Indians were particularly shaken by the event which they blamed on Islamabad. Response took various forms, including the postponement of the 19th SAARC summit, asking the Russian government to call off a joint military exercise with Pakistan, and the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association decision to suspend work with Pakistan.

On the Pakistani side, military alertness was raised and some Pakistan International Airlines flights suspended. The Pakistani government “denied any role in cross-border terrorism, and called on the United Nations and the international community to investigate atrocities it alleged have been committed by the security forces in Indian-ruled Kashmir”.

The US Presidents on Conflict

  • In an interview with Joe Klein of Time magazine in October 2008, Barack Obama expressed his intention to try to work with India and Pakistan to resolve the crisis. He said he had talked to Bill Clinton about it, as Clinton has experience as a mediator. In an editorial in The Washington Times, Selig S Harrison, director of the Asia Programme at the Center for International Policy and a senior scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars called it Obama’s first foreign policy mistake. In an editorial, The Australian called Obama’s idea to appoint a presidential negotiator “a very stupid and dangerous move indeed”. In an editorial in Forbes, Reihan Salam, associate editor for The Atlantic, noted “The smartest thing President Obama could do on Kashmir is probably nothing. We have to hope that India and Pakistan can work out their differences on Kashmir on their own”. The Boston Globe called the idea of appointing Bill Clinton as an envoy to Kashmir “a mistake”. President Obama subsequently appointed Richard Holbrooke as special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan. President Asif Ali Zardari hoped that Holbrooke would help mediate to resolve the Kashmir issue. Kashmir was later removed from Holbrooke’s mandate. “Eliminating … Kashmir from his job description … is seen as a significant diplomatic concession to India that reflects increasingly warm ties between the country and the United States,” The Washington Post noted in a report. Brajesh Mishra, India’s former national security adviser, was quoted in the same report as saying that “No matter what government is in place, India is not going to relinquish control of Jammu and Kashmir”. “That is written in stone and cannot be changed.” According to The Financial Times, India has warned Obama that he risks “barking up the wrong tree” if he seeks to broker a settlement between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.

In July 2009, US Assistant Secretary of State Robert O. Blake, Jr. stated that the United States had no plans to appoint any special envoy to settle the dispute, calling it an issue which needed to be sorted out bilaterally by India and Pakistan. According to Dawn this will be interpreted in Pakistan as an endorsement of India’s position on Kashmir that no outside power has any role in this dispute.

  • In 2002, former US President, Bill Clinton described Kashmir as “the most dangerous place in the world.” He averted a nuclear war between India and Pakistan over the issue of Kashmir according to former US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Talbott reveals in his book Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy and the Bomb that India and Pakistan came very close to a nuclear war in 1999. According to Talbott, before Clinton met with Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif in 1999 to discuss the issue, US national security adviser Sandy Berger told Clinton that he could be heading into “the single most important meeting with a foreign leader of his entire presidency”.

India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in 1998 and the two countries each hold significant numbers of nuclear warheads. India and Pakistan fought two wars over the issue of Kashmir in 1947 and 1965. These two neighbours came dangerously close to a third war during the Kargil conflict in 1999.

Problems Before Plebiscite

UN Resolution

  • The United Nations Security Council Resolution 47 was passed by United Nations Security Council under chapter VI of UN Charter. Resolutions passed under Chapter VI of UN charter are considered non binding and have no mandatory enforceability as opposed to the resolutions passed under Chapter VII.
  • On 24 January 1957 the UN Security Council reaffirmed the 1948 resolution.The Security Council, reaffirming its previous resolution to the effect, “that the final disposition of the state of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of United Nations,” further declared that any action taken by the Constituent Assembly formed in Kashmir ” would not constitute disposition of the state in accordance with the above principles.”
  • In March 2001, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan during his visit to India and Pakistan, remarked that Kashmir resolutions are only advisory recommendations and comparing with those on East Timor and Iraq was like comparing apples and oranges, since those resolutions were passed under chapter VII, which make it enforceable by UNSC. In 2003, then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said Pakistan was willing to consider alternative bilateral options to resolve the dispute other than solely UN resolutions.
  • In 2010, United States Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer said that Kashmir is an ‘internal’ issue of India and not to be discussed on international level rather it should be solved by bilateral talks between India and Pakistan. He said, “The (US) President ( Barack Obama), I think was very articulate on this issue of Kashmir. This is an internal issue for India.” India alleges that Pakistan failed to fulfill the pre-conditions by withdrawing its troops from the Kashmir region as was required under the same U.N. resolution of 13 August 1948 which discussed the plebiscite.
  • Separatist Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said that, “First of all when they say Kashmir is an internal issue, it is against the reality. The issue of Jammu and Kashmir is an international issue and it should be solved. As long as promises made to us are not fulfilled, this issue will remain unsolved.”

Instrument of Accession

  • The Instrument of Accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India was signed by Maharaja Hari Singh, erstwhile ruler, on 25 October 1947 and executed on 27 October 1947 between the ruler of Kashmir and the Governor-General of India. This was a legal act and completely valid in terms of the Government of India Act 1935, Indian Independence Act 1947 and under international law. Hence the accession of the Jammu and Kashmir state was total and irrevocable.
  • The Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir had unanimously ratified the Instrument of Accession to India duly adopting a constitution for the state endorsing perpetual merger of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India. The Constituent assembly lawfully represented wish of Kashmiri people at that time. Indian authorities claim that the 65% voter turnout in Kashmir elections is an endorsement of the “Instrument of Accession” and Indian democracy.
  • Alastair Lamb writes that there is no dispute on the fact that the Instrument of Accession was presented to the world as provisional and conditional on the wishes of the people of the state. Therefore, if the people of Kashmir were to vote for not staying with India then any document relating to accession signed by the Maharajah would become null and void.
  • Indian commentators have endeavored to argue that the plebiscite proposal was personal to Mountbatten (the plebiscite proposal was not personal to Mountbatten since he was explicitly acting on behalf of his Government), that it was ex gratia and not binding on the subsequent Indian administrations. The actual fact was that the plebiscite policy had long been established before the crisis in Kashmir and was an inherent part of the process by which British India had been partitioned into the Dominions of India and Pakistan.
  • A.G. Noorani also writes that the accession of Kashmir to India was strictly conditional. He says that Kashmiri rights for self-determination are not derived from the UN Resolutions but their right is actually engrafted as a condition on the Instrument of Accession. He writes that state elections do not fulfill this condition since Mountbatten mentioned a reference to the people of the state and not ‘elections to the Assembly’.
  • According to a 1994 report by the International Commission of Jurists the people of Jammu and Kashmir still have not been able to exercise their right to self-determination which became available to them at partition.

Article 370

  • Article 370 of the Indian constitution is a provision that grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir. The article is drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution, which relates to Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions.
  • Article 370 is the only link that connects Jammu and Kashmir to India.
  • To implement a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir one has to amend or abolish the article 370, which is very complex procedure. The leaders of Kashmir oppose any such measure. Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mufti Muhammad Sayeed said, “Even Indian Parliament does not have power to scrap Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Indian constitution.”
  • The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir has ruled that the Article 370 cannot be “abrogated, repealed or even amended.” It explained that the clause (3) of the Article conferred power to the State’s Constituent Assembly to recommend to the President on the matter of the repeal of the Article. Since the Constituent Assembly did not make such a recommendation before its dissolution in 1957, the Article 370 has taken on the features of a “permanent provision” despite being titled a temporary provision in the Constitution.
  • Article 370 has emerged as the biggest obstacle in front of plebiscite because of its complex procedure of amendment and opposition from the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Article 370 allows its own death by permitting plebiscite. Article 370 was drafted while negotiations with Pakistan were still on. When Pakistan objected to Article 370 at the UN Commission Girija Shankar Bajpai, who was secretary general of Ministry of External Affairs, wrote to UNCIP in 1949 that Article 370 did not preclude plebiscite. Krishna Menon said to the UN Security Council in 1957 that if people of Kashmir voted to not stay with India then India’s duty at that time would be to adopt those constitutional procedures which would enable separation of Kashmir from India. That procedure is contained in clause 3 of Article 370, a presidential order to declare that the Article 370 will cease to be operative.
  • A G Noorani argues that it is perfectly acceptable for a Kashmiri to contest the elections and recognise the Constitution while remaining committed to plebiscite and Independence and the reason for this is that the Constitution itself leaves the disposition of Kashmir open.

“Nehru’s Promise”

  • After accession of Kashmir to India in October 1947 then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru made some statements in media and in various telegrams regarding plebiscite in Kashmir.

In telegram No.413 dated 28 October 1947 addressed to Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nehru wrote,

“That Government of India and Pakistan should make a joint request to U.N.O. to undertake a plebiscite in Kashmir at the earliest possible date.”

Nehru’s statement in the Indian Parliament, 26 June 1952,

“I want to stress that it is only the people of Kashmir who can decide the future of Kashmir. It is not that we have merely said that to the United Nations and to the people of Kashmir; it is our conviction and one that is borne out by the policy that we have pursued, not only in Kashmir but every where.

“I started with the presumption that it is for the people of Kashmir to decide their own future. We will not compel them. In that sense, the people of Kashmir are sovereign.”

In his statement in the Lok Sabha on 31 March 1955 as published in Hindustan Times New Delhi on Ist April, 1955, Pandit Nehru said, “Kashmir is perhaps the most difficult of all these problems between India and Pakistan. We should also remember that Kashmir is not a thing to be bandied between India and Pakistan but it has a soul of its own and an individuality of its own. Nothing can be done without the goodwill and consent of the people of Kashmir.” There was also a White Paper on Kashmir published by Indian government regarding plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir in 1948.

  • There are many such instances where Nehru made such remarks regarding plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan and separatist Hurriyat leaders repeatedly demand that Indian Government should fulfill “Nehru’s Promise”.
  • Position of the Indian authorities on “Nehru’s Promise”: the Indian government takes the position that Nehru himself backed off from his promise in the late 1950s. Although he was Prime Minister for 17 years, he made no serious attempt for a plebiscite. His promises have been taken as a ‘good political move’.
  • The reason for not holding plebiscite was given by India’s Defense Minister, Kirshnan Menon, who said: “Kashmir would vote to join Pakistan and no Indian Government responsible for agreeing to plebiscite would survive.”
  • Indian authorities say that Nehru’s telegrams and speeches have no legal importance, nor it is compulsory to apply them as they were never passed by the Parliament of India. The white paper on Kashmir also does not have any legal importance as it was published in 1948 while the Constitution of India came into force into 1950 and defined Kashmir as an integral part of India as well as protecting the ‘unity and integrity’ of India. Constitution of India doesn’t has any provision for plebiscite and 1948 white paper was against Constitution of India so it was automatically got abolished.
  • Indian authorities also says that, Nehru is not current Prime Minister of India, because policies are made on the basis of views of current Prime Minister and his cabinet which must get nod by both houses of Parliament of India.
  • Any Prime Minister of India can’t make decision of plebiscite unilaterally, bill of plebiscite must be passed in both houses of Parliament of India with massive 2/3rd majority then it requires assent by President of India, and if that decision is against Basic structure of Indian Constitution then Supreme Court of India can outlaw or abolish that decision. Preamble and article 3 of part 2 of Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir says ‘Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India’. This constitution has been adopted by elected Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly in 1956 when Nehru was Prime Minister of India.
  • Daughter of Nehru, Indira Gandhi and his grandson Rajiv Gandhi were Prime Ministers of India but they themself never did any attempt to implement their forefather’s ‘Promise’. Instead Indira Gandhi done 1974 Indira–Sheikh accord with Shaikh Abdullah which vanished all possibilities of plebiscite.

Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir

  • Preamble of Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is as written in box.

having solemnly resolved, in pursuance of the accession of this State to India which took place on the twenty sixth day of October, 1947, to further define the existing relationship of the State with the Union of India as an integral part thereof, and to secure to ourselves-

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among us all;

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation;


-Preamble of Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir.

  • Article 3 of part 2 of Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir also says that ‘Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India’.
  • Ram Jethmalani, prominent lawyer, former union minister and chairman of Kashmir Committee said in Nov 2014 that, “The constitution of this state(J & K) was not formulated by the constituent assembly of India, but by its constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. That was a plebiscite. It is the constituent assembly of J&K which incorporated some provisions of the Indian Constitution. The plebiscite has therefore taken place. You(Kashmiris) are not living under the constitution of India but under the constitution which was framed by the constituent assembly(of Jammu and Kashmir) which has willingly accepted a part of the Indian constitution.”
  • Indian authorities also claims that people of Kashmir have voted in large percentage in recent elections in favour of this constitution and each elected legislative assembly of J & K has accepted this constitution.
  • However one article from the Times of India, has labelled democracy in Kashmir as a ‘farce’. It claims that in 1951 Sheikh Abdullah rejected the nomination papers of almost all the opposing candidates, therefore he won 73 out of 75 seats unopposed. The Times of India further claims that later elections were rigged by New Delhi in favour of its own nominated leaders and it wasn’t until 1977 that the first free and fair elections were held, which Sheikh Abdullah won. However, rigging returned in 1988.

Outlook Survey

  • In 1995 the first ever opinion poll was conducted in the Kashmir Valley by MODE which had been commissioned by Outlook.
  • 72% of respondents favoured independence, 19% favoured Pakistan and only 7% favoured a solution within Indian sovereignty.
  • 80% of respondents said that a free and fair election would definitely not help solve the Kashmir problem while only 4% said that a free and fair election could help resolve the Kashmir conflict.

Private Survey

  • London based leading think tank Royal Institute of International Affairs also known as Chatham House, conducted a survey both in Pakistan administered Kashmir and Indian administered Kashimir and released it in its report Kashmir:Paths to Peace in May 2010.
  • It found that 50% of people in Pakistan’s side of Kashmir favoured the accession of the entire state to Pakistan, 44% of people favoured independence, 1% wanted the accession of the entire state to accede to India while 1% favoured the status quo.
  • In the Indian side of Kashmir, 28% of people expressed a desire for the entire state to accede to India, 19% favoured the status quo, 43% wanted independence while 2% said they wanted the entire state to join Pakistan.
  • The survey showed that only 2% of the respondents on the Indian side favoured joining Pakistan and most such views were confined to Srinagar and Budgam districts. In six of the districts surveyed late last year by researchers, not a single person favoured annexation with Pakistan, a notion that remains the bedrock for the hardline separatist campaign in Kashmir.
  • The survey also showed that only 1% of the respondents on the Pakistani side favoured joining India. In four of the seven surveyed districts of Pakistani Kashmir, the option of merging with India found no support while this option had a support rate of only 1–3% in the remaining three districts.
  • However views are highly poralised in each region. The main area of unrest has always been the predominantly Muslim majority Kashmir Valley, where the support level for Independence varies between 74% to 95% as found by the survey while support for accession with India varies between 2% to 22%. However, Hindu majority Jammu and Buddhist majority Ladakh express high levels of satisfaction with Indian rule.
  • This 2010 survey too demonstrated that trend, with more than half the respondents on Indian side saying the elections had improved chances for peace(later in 2014, Jammu and Kashmir elections recorded highest percentage of voters turnout).
  • Survey said that, “These results support the already widespread view that the plebiscite options are likely to offer no solution to the dispute.”
  • “The results aren’t surprising at all. I feel they re-emphasize the need to look beyond traditional positions and evaluate the contours of a solution grounded in today’s realities,” said Sajjad Lone on this survey, a former ally of the Hurriyat who unsuccessfully contested the 2009 Indian general elections but won in 2014 Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections.

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