Nestled among the majestic mountain ranges in the center of South and Central Asia, Kashmir shares historical, cultural, and trade links with Central Asia. It shares a 750-kilometer border with Pakistan, borders India to the south, and China to its east. A strip of 27 miles in the north with Afghanistan also separates Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Kashmir has the singular and dubious distinction of being surrounded by three nuclear powers: China, India, and Pakistan.
Kashmir’s size of 87,000 square miles (140,012 kilometers) is more than three times the size of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg combined. It is larger than 103 sovereign countries, which are members of the United Nations.
An estimated 23.5 million people, including two million refugees living in Pakistan and 2.3 million expatriates and diaspora scattered around the world.
Like many other nations, Kashmir has been an independent nation for much of its history. The few exceptions were when Kashmir was incorporated into the vast empires of the Maurya Dynasty of the remote past (3rd century BC), the Mughal empire (16th to 18th centuries AD), the anarchical conditions of the late 18th and first half of the 19th century, and the British Empire (mid-19th to mid-20th centuries). All these empires included not only present-day India and Pakistan but other countries as well. Under the British Raj, Kashmir had internal autonomy under the Dogra dynasty.
Cause of the Kashmir Dispute
Denial of right of self-determination to the People of Kashmir as laid out in United Nations Security Council resolutions. India’s claim that Kashmir is an integral part of it is based on nothing more than the so-called Instrument of Accession. The Maharajah signed this to obtain India’s military help against a popular political independence movement since 1931 in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir and an armed insurgency by what is now called Azad Kashmir. The Instrument of Accession has not been confirmed by any credible international authority, including the UN. Authoritative historians such as Alastair Lamb have questioned the very existence of credibility and authenticity of the document. The document, if it ever existed, was still conditional on a reference to a popular vote (not yet held) of the erstwhile people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The people of Kashmir reject the Indian claim. The United Nations has never accepted and it has never been legally validated.
Abrogation of Article-370 and 35-A
August 5, 2019 was an abrupt unilateral decree announced by the Modi regime. It was done to strip J&K of its internal autonomy granted by the Indian parliament 70 years earlier to the state of J&K through a treaty signed by coercion. For eight long months, Kashmir was put under siege by over 800,000 strong Indian armed forces. Its after-effects still hold the people under a regime of state terror. Hundreds of political leaders, human rights defenders, and journalists are harassed, and dozens are held in Indian prisons.
A premeditated strategy of demographic change, ethnic cleansing, and settler-colonization and apartheid is underway against the Muslim population.
The demilitarization of Kashmir followed by a free and impartial plebiscite as mandated under multiple UN resolutions and under the direct supervision of the United Nations to determine the future status of Kashmir. This is the only way forward to resolve the conflict and avert a nuclear catastrophe and achieve lasting peace in the region.
Great Power Policies
When the dispute was first brought to the United Nations Security Council with the firm backing of the United States, Great Britain, and France, the Security Council urged that the future of Kashmir shall be decided by the wishes and will of the people. The United States was the The principal sponsor of the Security Council’s resolution # 47 adopted on April 21, 1948.
The international community must bring the violence in Kashmir to a quick end. There must be an initiation of a political dialogue between Kashmiri leaders and the governments of India and Pakistan to set the stage for a democratic and peaceful solution. The appointment of a special envoy on Kashmir with international standing is essential.
The world powers, including the United States, can and should lead the effort to achieve a fair and lasting settlement of the dispute that is just to the people most immediately involved. Such measures must uphold values such as democracy and human rights. By doing so, the United States and other democratic countries can strengthen the principles of a just world order.