A brief introduction to the Kashmir problem.
The first Muslim ruler came to Sindh (now Pakistan) in 712 A.D. From that day till 1857 A.D India was ruled by Muslims. They generally maintained law and order and peace and there were hardly any forced conversions to their religion. That is one reason such large numbers of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Christians were able to follow their religion and traditions voluntarily and freely. After the war of independence in 1857 the British ruled India till 1947 when the whole country was divided into two separate countries, India and Pakistan.
The map of Pakistan and India (combined with borders which are in place since 1947).
In undivided India there were many princely states ruled by autonomous or semi autonomous rulers recognized by the British.
The Kashmir dispute dates back from 1947 when the partition of the Indian sub-continent along religious lines led to the formation of India and Pakistan. A nation (India) founded on the promise of democracy and freedom consolidated itself through undemocratic tactics on the one hand, and by breaking the legal (federal) compacts that they made with the states on the other. As a justification, the princely states were often considered as “feudal,” “medieval,” and “anachronistic,” with no place in a republican India. Hence, their decimation could only have been for the good of democracy and India’s so-called “tryst with destiny.”
In theory, these princely states had the option of deciding which country to join, or of remaining independent. In practice, the restive population of each province proved decisive. The states with Hindu majority opted to join India and Pakistan has no objection even though there were some associated with borders of Pakistan.
Although many princes wanted to be “independent” (which would have meant hereditary monarchies and no hope for democracy) they had to succumb to their people’s protests which turned violent in many provinces.
Because of its location, Kashmir could choose to join either India or Pakistan. Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir, was Hindu while most of his subjects were Muslim. As the majority population was Muslim, they wanted to join Pakistan. Moreover most of the rivers of Pakistan has their origin in Kashmir and it was natural for Pakistan to want it to be its part. The Hindu ruler of Kashmir fled to India and Indian forces occupied Kashmir against the wishes of its citizens and that has led to a series of conflicts between the two countries.
In 1947 after fleeing to India Hari Singh appealed to the Indian government for military assistance from India. He signed the Instrument of Accession, ceding Kashmir to India on October 26, 1947.
Indian and Pakistani forces thus fought their first war over Kashmir in 1947-48. India referred the dispute to the United Nations on 1 January. In a resolution dated August 13, 1948, the UN asked Pakistan to remove its troops, after which India was also to withdraw the bulk of its forces.
Once this happened, a “free and fair” plebiscite was to be held to allow the Kashmiri people to decide their future. That promise by India was never kept and now the people of Indian occupied Kashmir are rising for freedom. India has more than 750,000 army troops in India with killing of innocent freedom fighters, use of blinding pellet guns throughout the valley, rape of innocent Kashmiri women and disappearance of children and adults is rampant in every district of this unfortunate land called Indian occupied Kashmir.
In recent years India has started to built huge dams on the origins of the rivers who flow in Pakistan and are the only source of its fertile plains. This is against all human norms and against the Indus water treaty signed by both countries back in 1960’s.
At present India has control of 45% of the area of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir (Jammu, Kashmir Valley, Ladakh and Siachen Glacier); Siachen glacier was supposed to be no-man’s land but in 1984 India invaded it and took control of this area to which Pakistan responded and sent its troops there. This war is still going on and is called the highest war being fought in the world.
At present Pakistan controls 35% of the region (Gilgit–Baltistan and Azad Kashmir). China administers 20% (Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract) of the state since 1962. About 45% is under Indian occupation called Jammu-Kashmir and includes Laddakh.