The Kashmir Conflict

Historical Background of the Kashmir Conflict

The importance of prompt conflict resolution between parties has always been imperative for their growth and development. However, for decades, Kashmir in the Himalayan region has been a major crisis point between India and Pakistan. The Kashmir conflict is an extraordinary dispute about the inhabitants and their ambitions in regard to sovereignty, fueled by the subtleties of the inhabitants’ history. It is also a territorial dispute which reflects evident strains between national identities and political motivations and depicts the contrasting view of two nations — India and Pakistan. Indeed, the personal motivations of these two countries have defied many attempts to resolve the conflict.

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However, the challenges posed by this dispute do, in fact, stimulate the need for finding an amicable solution. In order to do it, it is important to understand the roots of the conflict, the current progress, the impact of the wars between the two countries, as well as the present state of affairs between India and Pakistan. Several suggestions in light of International Disputes Theories can be suggested, and therefore, this paper will be subdivided into three major areas. First, the historical background of the conflict will be provided. The second part will demonstrate the relationship between Kashmir and the two warring countries, whereas the last part will focus on the current status of the conflict and provide a possible solution.

Origins of Kashmir Conflict

The Kashmir conflict has been termed as the “most serious dispute between Pakistan and India (Bose 24).” As a result, the region has remained one of the most militarized zones in the world. History shows that Kashmir had been under the leadership of several empires of local and non-native origins — later, however, it was conquered by Emperor Akhbar. Kashmir had then become a part of Afghan, after being invaded by Ahmed Durrani, who was later defeated by Sikhs. The British invaded the area in 1846, but they did not bring direct leadership to Kashmir (Carter, Irani and Volkan 42). Instead, the territory was sold to Gulab Singh, who was a Jammu warrior and was crowned as Kashmir’s Maharaja. Under his leadership, the Ladakh area was also added to the princely territory. For over 100 years, the Dogra Dynasty ruled over the Kashmir and Jammu states. The dynasty, however, was largely unrepresentative, tyrannical, and foreign in substance (Carter, Irani and Volkan 42)). Muslims constituted the major population, yet the ruling dynasty was Hindu, which fostered feelings of exclusion.


The Muslims’ political awareness was stimulated by the increased ideas of decolonization of British India, leading to massive protests against the Gogra rule that broke out in 1931. As a result, Sheik Abdulla, who was a Kashmir nationalist, helped to form the All Jammu and Kashmir’s Muslim Conference (Bose 19)). The Maharaja cowed and allowed them to have a small degree of democracy, but the unrest of Muslims was far from being addressed. The 1947 decolonization was structured on the principle that territories which were under the British had to be divided into two areas. The Muslim’s area would join Pakistan, whereas the other groupings, such as Hindus and Buddhists, would join India. The Maharaja in Kashmir, however, was hesitant and undecided in regard to what country to join. It is reported that he chose to remain independent since accession to India would upset the Muslims, whereas accession to Pakistan would make Hindus and Sikhs vulnerable (BBC). Later, however, whether by free will or by duress, the Maharaja acceded to India, and Pakistan decided to fight for Kashmir. It was the root of the long-term conflict. The research reveals that when power was transferred, the Jammu region comprised 61% of Muslims, whereas Hindus constituted 39% of the total populace. Kashmir, on the other hand, comprised 92% of Muslims and 8% of Hindus (Majid and Mahmood 150). Therefore, it did not make sense that the regions would join India. There have been accusations that The Accession Instrument was never signed, as the Maharaja was traveling and could only be able to sign it a year later. Furthermore, other arguments assert that if the Maharaja had indeed signed the accession agreement, it could have only happened under duress. Lastly, the fact that India claims that The Accession Instrument was either lost or stolen gives Pakistan more reason to believe that Kashmir did not accede to India (Carter, Irani and Volkan 43).

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India and Pakistan, therefore, both lay claim to Kashmir, even though they control the region only partly. India controls 43 % of Kashmir, made up of Jammu, Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh, whereas Pakistan controls 37 % of it, which constitutes Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan (BBC). Today, Jammu and Kashmir have 77% of Muslims and 21% of Hindus, while the rest comprises the minor religions (Majid and Mahmood 150). Kashmir still remains an area of conflict, as the Muslims would like to accede to Pakistan, hence adding fuel to the fire. As such, Muslims in Kashmir often revolt against the Indian administration.

Wars between India and Pakistan and Their Progress

It is evident that the Kashmir conflict is complex and multidimensional. The brief aforementioned history shows that it is not only an ethnic, religious, and territorial dispute but also a dispute based on the violation of rights of people in Kashmir and their ability do decide their political future by themselves.

The 1947 Indo-Paki War

The first major war between India and Pakistan occurred between October 1947 and December 1948. Tribes from the Northwest Frontier Province, who supported acceding to Pakistan, started revolts against the Hindu leader and received help from regular Pakistani soldiers. The Maharaja asked for aid from India, and it is reported that during the exchange, the leader was forced to agree to accession to India. It accelerated the war between the two countries.

Today, Pakistan still questions the accession, since they believe that Kashmir princely state was largely Muslim, hence the will of the people was not considered. India acted first to recover its part of Kashmir and pushed the Pakistani fighters farther back. However, at the beginning of January 1949, a command for a ceasefire came into effect with the help of the UN (Fayaz 71). De facto, the border was established, dividing the area into parts that two countries would administer. The war resulted in India acquiring an estimated two-thirds of Kashmir, while Pakistan secured one third. The relatively wealthy and populous Kashmir was majorly retained by India.

1965 Indo-Paki War

The second major war commenced in 1965, along the west Pakistan-India border in Rann of Kachchh. The war was mostly fought in the administered areas of Kashmir, and it is believed to have resulted in a culmination of series of minor skirmishes, which had been taking place since the 1948 ceasefire. In August of 1965, the fighting rapidly spread to Kashmir and Punjab. By September, both countries’ troops crossed the Line of Control, set toward the end of the 1947-1948 war, where the air assaults were launched by the warring troops (Raghavan 17). However, a ceasefire was agreed upon by India when China threatened to support Pakistan. An agreement was signed, pledging to restore and maintain peace.

The 1972 Indo-Paki War

The third major Indo-Paki war occurred in 1971, as the result of a continuing deterioration of relations between the West and East Pakistani, where the latter was demanding greater freedom. At the end of the fighting, India opened its doors to East Pakistani refugees. Pakistan later attacked the airfields in Kashmir, causing India to reiterate by attacking both East and West Pakistanis. India turned its back on Pakistani and occupied the eastern half, whose independence as Bangladesh was declared (Bose 24).

However, under pressure from the UN, a ceasefire was arranged in the middle of December, when Pakistan was defeated. Bangladesh became independent and today it is one of the countries with the highest Muslim population.

Results of the War/Conflict

The three major wars discussed above are not the only ones that Pakistan and India fought. In fact, there were many other skirmishes where the two parties went to war. The conflict has resulted in detrimental impacts on the countries. First, the wars led to many deaths of innocent citizens and troop militants. In the 1948 war, for example, it is reported that over 1000 officers in the armies were killed, and 3000 were wounded in the Indian army, whereas the Pakistan army reported 1,500 deaths and about 5,000 wounded people. The second war led to the death of about 4,000 and 8,000 Indian and Pakistani army personnel respectively (Carter, Irani and Volkan 103). Alarmingly, such statistics only account for the death of army personnel in three major wars. The wars have inarguably cast gloomy obscurities over a region that is a home of over 1 billion people. Furthermore, the statistics indicate that between 1989 and 2002, over 40,000 people died from the wars. Other sources also claim that the number may be in fact double the one pointed by statistics (Fayaz 73). From the onset of the war to the present times, thousands of people have perished. Also, the war has led to massive destruction of property, consequently increasing the percentage of poverty in both countries. The people of Kashmir have also undergone trauma and tragedy, which cannot be adequately expressed through numbers, even as astounding as they are. Kashmir was once known as a prime tourist destination, majorly for its temperate weather and its scenic beauty in the Himalayan Mountains (Raghavan 97). Today, however, the area has been reduced to one where growth and development occur at tediously slow rates.

The wars and the continuing conflict have also led to the separation of families. For example, research by Chatham House established that although the Line of Control has helped to reduce the attacks, it remains a barrier to movement. 8% of the respondents in the research said that they had several friends across the border, but only 1% of the respondents managed to meet with them for over five years (Bradnock 12). An even smaller percentage reported they knew people who had crossed the border in order to meet their friends or family. The number of internally displaced people has also increased as a result of the conflict. According to the study, it explains the increasing need for the conflict to be resolved. The war has also made the relations between the Pakistanis and Indians sour, creating an attitude of intolerance between them. The Human Rights Activist’s body in India also adds that India has set the oppressive laws where innocent civilians are usually hurt. For example, the Prevention and Suppression of Sabotage Act, the 1978 Public Safety Act, and the Internal Movement Ordinance laws, among others, abuse the rights of Kashmir people who are oppressed by Indian troops (Majid and Mhabpood 154-155). Today, the need for a solution is even higher, because the two warring countries have a nuclear capacity, threatening the explosion of a nuclear war.

Relationship between Kashmir and India and Pakistan

Today, India and Pakistan continue to disagree on the issue of Kashmir. There are several reasons why Pakistan fights India over Kashmir. First, water remains an issue of concern to Pakistan. The water levels in Pakistan would only last for thirty days when compared to the conventionally recommended levels of 200 for the driest countries. Pakistan thus wants Kashmir since the Indus River flows through it. The Kashmir area also has glaciers and rivers which are valuable sources of water. If India takes total control over Kashmir, Pakistan fears that the supply of water will be cut off (Raghavan 111). On the other hand, India is keen to not surrender Kashmir for the fear of setting up a precarious example for the other regions under it, which are becoming increasingly restless for their independence. The two countries want control over Kashmir due to the strategic positions and security offered by the mountains. The mountainous nature of Kashmir provides both countries with high ground, which is extremely helpful during times of military conflicts (Bose 99).

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India also wants to keep Kashmir for the fear that surrendering it to Muslims might trigger a war against the Hindus, who would be the minority. Furthermore, Kashmir would open up several routes to other countries, such as Afghanistan. Both countries, therefore, want to possess the area to derive the advantages that would come with the route (Ankit 166). A religious interest also explains Pakistan’s need for Kashmir. Indian nationalists advocate for a nonspiritual and pluralist India, where all religions must coexist. Muslim leaders of Pakistan, however, argue that Muslims and Hindus were meant to be two nations, and hence cannot effectively and peacefully coexist. Consequently, this religious reason explains Pakistan’s position in regard to Kashmir. The religious and nationalism differences demonstrate that there were more things that people got from Britain apart from their independence. Britain’s view and approach to nationalism were introduced in a subcontinent, where religion was conventionally central to people’s culture and where language and religion could only find regional focus. People learned that they could remain independent, make their own choices, and fight for what they believe in regardless of the consequences. This belief, since Kashmir has a large Muslim populace, explains the determination of Pakistan.

Attempts for Peace

Even though there have been wars and skirmishes, and they continue even now, it should not be assumed that the two countries have not made attempts to solve the dispute. They have been ranging between ceasefires, agreements, and involvement of other countries. In 1948, for example, India introduced the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council. The resolution stated that the referendum needed to be held in order to determine Kashmir’s fate and that Pakistan was to withdraw their troops, while India had to also reduce the number of troops to a minimum (Fayaz 72).

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A ceasefire ensued, but Pakistan did not withdraw its troops, which led to the partitioning of Kashmir. Treaties have also been signed in a bid to resolve the conflict — the Shimla agreement, the Lahore agreement, and the Tashkent Agreement were all aimed to restore the peace between India and Pakistan. The Shimla treaty was signed at the end of the second major war and formalized the line point of the ceasefire as the border de facto. The agreement also required the meetings to be held until a solution was found. However, India’s occupation of Siachen resulted in the agreement losing its relevance, as Pakistan saw its loss of Siachen as a major setback. In 1966, the Tashkent agreement was signed in order to resolve the 1965 war (Chowdhary 278). It required both parties to pull back and refrain from interfering with other economic or diplomatic affairs. The treaty, however, attracted much criticism, as it did not state any anti-war policy. No solutions were achieved from the subsequent talks regarding the agreement either.

The Lahore agreement was signed in 1999, as a declaration of ratification of both India and Pakistan. The two parties found a mutual understanding in order to avoid nuclear war and the accidental and unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. Previous treaties, signed in order to control the use of a nuclear weapons such as the NNAA, failed, hence creating the need for a new treaty. Both countries voiced their willingness to implement the SIMLA agreement, as well as to foster a peaceful and secure coexistence (BBC). However, the treaty broke the agreement once again when the 1999 Kargil war broke out. It had been reported that the Pakistani soldiers had infiltrated the Indian-administered Kashmir, and thus the Lahore treaty was stalled.

The research indicates that after most peace treaty agreements, there were little improvements in the relations between the two countries. It can be explained by the fact that neither party kept their end of the agreement. They still proceeded to attack, to continue testing their nuclear weapons, and even to increase their troops when they were expected to reduce them to a minimum (Sidhu et al., 113; Jaraid and Naseem 247)). The relief that should have been generated by the treaties was not forthcoming to both countries. The number of deaths has notably diminished since the attacks were reduced — however, there are very few reports, if any, which would show the improvement of relations between the two countries after signing treaties.

Current Status and Possible Solutions

Even though a solution has not been reached, the deadliness of the conflicts has been reduced considerably. Movements that were formed in order to voice the protests of Kashmir’s people against grievances by the Indian government have achieved some level of success. In 2008, the elections were held, and there was a considerably high number of voters participating. It is an interesting phenomenon, considering there were increased calls from the separatist revolutionaries for the people to boycott the elections. As a result, a pro-India Jammu and Kashmir were created. This was interpreted by some people as an endorsement of acceding to the Indian rule (Majid 203). Another election was held in 2014 and witnessed an even higher number of voters. This time, the analysts argue that the voters were not supporting the rule of India, but rather they were voting to have their daily issues addressed. The numbers of revolts in Kashmir against Indian leadership have thus declined.

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In 2016, however, the killing of Burhan Wani, who was a top militant, sparked new attacks. Furthermore, in September 2016, the Indian base army was attacked, and 19 people were killed in the result. The Indian authorities suspected that a militant group Jaish e-Mohammed was involved (BBC). In response, the 19th SAARC convention was postponed, and progress that had been slowly happening between Pakistan and India’s Motion Picture Producers was suspended. Pakistan denied any involvement and called on the UN and America to help address the dispute. Tensions remain high between the two countries, as they have both made nuclear advancements. If a nuclear war was to ensue, the results would be undeniably catastrophic (Barash 114). Prior to this attack, the two nations had managed to enjoy relative peace since 2014.

Possible Solutions

Having discussed the origins and effects of the Kashmir conflict, as well as the efforts to foster peace and improve the current situation, it is imperative for a solution to be found. The latest clash that happened demonstrates the dire need for a practical approach to Kashmir. Based on the international systems of conflict resolutions, states may opt to resolve their disputes through peaceful means, whereas others opt for violent approaches. According to the principle of cooperation applied in dispute resolution, factors such as the nature of conflict and the intended goals may influence the approach selected (Barash 44). In Kashmir’s case, the UN and other countries may play an imperative role in generating solutions to the issue. Pakistan and India have called on external forces for help in resolving the conflict, and some development, albeit little, has been witnessed. It confirms the suitability of applying the liberalism theory to the issue. The theory asserts that it is the preferences of the warring states rather than their capabilities which are the primary determinants of any behavior of the state (Barash 77). A plurality of state actions is thus evident in liberalism, and there are several possible solutions to the issue.


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First, the Line of Control can be formalized to become a permanent border. It means that India would maintain the larger part of Kashmir, which it already administers, whereas Pakistan would, on the other hand, be able to integrate its claim of Kashmir. Undeniably, this might not be a favorite decision of many people, but it would eventually bring the end to a war that has lasted for decades. The second solution would be to hold a plebiscite without coerced consent of Kashmir people under the UN charter. It means that UN would take control over Kashmir under programs such as Trusteeship Council, and Indian and Pakistan troops would play no role in administering the Kashmir regions under dispute. This approach, as Barash (101) asserts, has worked in different other scenarios. The Kashmir populace would then be free to decide, through a constitutional process, on whether they would like to remain an independent state or join either India or Pakistan. The absence of influence on the region’s politics by either India or Pakistan would also help in solving the conflict. Mass killings can be curtailed, and human rights can be upheld. This approach would be met with resistance from both India and Pakistan, but it is one of the most plausible ones. The third and last approach would be for Kashmir valley to remain independent, so it would not have to join either India or Pakistan. In turn, it would address the issues raised by those who fight against the Indian government since the onset of the insurgency in 1989. However, this plan has been criticized, as some say that Kashmir would not be economically sustainable without aid from India or Pakistan.

In conclusion, it is clear that the Kashmir conflict remains one of the longest dispute issues globally. The conflict is complex as it is multidimensional, involving the fight for territorial autonomy, freedom for people of Kashmir, and respect for their rights. It is also an ethnic and religious dispute, as well as a conflict about the nationalism. The effects of the conflict have been disastrous, with thousands of people dying in three of the major wars. India and Pakistan both have interests in regard to Kashmir, but they presently control only parts of the region. It is imperative that a solution is found to ensure that the death and destruction resulting from the conflict are contained.

Annotated Bibliography

Ankit, Rankesh. The Kashmir Conflict: From Empire to the Cold War, 1945-66. Routledge, 2015.

Pakistan has fought both cold and hot wars over Kashmir. In this book, Ankit embarks on a discussion on the period before the war began, up until 1965, when the Tashkent agreement was signed. The author also discusses the issue through a global perspective and mentions international concerns over Kashmir.

Barash, David, and Charles Webel. Peace and Conflict Studies. SAGE, 2013.

This book is important in understanding the essence of solving disputes amicably and in time. Applied as a class reference material, the book supplies the reader with sufficient examples of global conflicts, the ways some of them were solved, and the reasons why others have not reached a solution. The book also presents different approaches and methods that countries can use to reduce conflicts.

“Kashmir Profile Timelines.” BBC News, 29 Sept. 2016, Accessed 11 Dec. 2016.

The article describes the geographical position and goes ahead to provide a timeline for the events of the Kashmir conflict. An objective viewpoint about Kashmir is also provided.

“Kashmir Territories Profile.” BBC News, 4 Oct. 2016, Accessed 11 Dec. 2016.

This article by the BBC provides a timeline on the evolution of the Kashmir conflict from the beginning to the present. The dates are present in a brief yet understandable and informative manner, hence it is suitable for comprehension of the conflict.

Bose, Sumatra. Roots of Conflict: Paths to Peace. Harvard University Press, 2009.

Bose delves into a deep and enlightening history of how the dispute in Kashmir came to happen. The author explains the roots of it and also mentions the effects of the conflict. He notes that with the warring countries possessing nuclear weapons, the issue of Kashmir might only escalate, and demonstrates the need for a peaceful resolution to be reached.

Bradnock, Robert. Kashmir: Paths to Peace. Chatham House, 2010.

Paths to peace are a summary of the study that was conducted in both borders of the Line of Control, aiming to collect the opinions of people regarding the conflict. The paper presents statistics of what people think and what strategies they suggest for a solution in regard to Kashmir. Presented in a concise yet understandable manner, Bradnock presents the views of the civilians who suffer most from the conflict.

Carter, Judy, George Irani, and Vamik Volkan. Regional and Ethnic Conflicts: Perspectives from the Front Lines. Routledge, 2013.

The authors provide an understanding of conflicts in different regions, with one of the major of them being the Kashmir conflict. The authors provide a discussion on Kashmir even before the British acquired it. This book also focuses on different factors that act as challenges, leading to failures in conflict resolution in different areas. They also provide approaches for conflict resolution.

Chowdharry, Rekha. Jammu and Kashmir: Politics of Identity and Separatism. Routledge, 2015.

This book demonstrates how the conflict in Kashmir has led to separatism between the two countries and among people. The people of Kashmir have been locked out of developments because the wars always slow them down. This book is largely applicable if a solution is to be reached in Kashmir since it provides a deep understanding of the situation.

Fayaz, Sadia. Kashmir Dispute between Pakistan and India: The Way out. The Dialogue, vol. 11, no. 1, 2016, pp. 65-78.

Fayaz attempts to provide some understanding of why it has been hard to address the Kashmir conflict. The article also places focus on several past attempts that have been put in order to help address the issue but have failed. The author, therefore, goes on to give some opinions and ideas on what may work toward addressing the Kashmir issue.

Javaid, Umbreen, and Naseem Sharal. Conflict Management between Pakistan and India: Challenges and Failures. South Asian Studies, vol. 37 no. 1, 2016, pp. 245-256.

This article provides an in-depth interrogation of the issues that have frequently resulted in stalemates in the efforts to solve the Kashmir conflict. The lack of trust and frequent game blames between the two have, in many cases, heightened the conflict. Furthermore, it has been challenging to reach a resolution because while the countries share a border, they have different policies and nationalism approaches.

Majid, Abdul, and Hussain Mahbood. Kashmir: a Conflict between India and Pakistan. Journal of South Asian Studies, vol. 31, no. 1, 2016, pp. 149-159.

This peer-reviewed study takes the reader back to the roots of the conflict. It presents the Kashmir conflict in a different light, as the issue of something other than the normal territorial autonomy. The article presents statistics of the deaths and losses that have occurred from the conflict and also focuses on laws that have violated the rights of the people of Kashmir.

Raghavan, V. R. Conflicts in Jammu and Kashmir: Impact on Polity, Society and Economy. VIJ Books India. Pvt Ltd, 2012.

The Kashmir conflict, having gone on for too long, has caused negative impacts on its people. This book presents an enlightening view on what the impacts have been. It focuses on the slowed economic developments, the mistrust amongst people, the fragmentation among families, and the impact of the politics on the region. Through different articles in the book authored by people with authority in their fields, it helps to understand Kashmir better.

Sidhu, Waheguru, Pal Singh, Bushra Asif, and Cyrus Samii. Kashmir: New Voices, New Approaches. Lynne Rienner, 2006.

The issue of Kashmir is not one-sided, and this is why it has been challenging to reach a solution. This book provides an understanding of the issue from economic, religious, and political angles. Reading this book provides a broader understanding and appreciation of the need to solve the issue. The different authors who contribute are all authorities in their filed.


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