By Saeed Qureshi
India and Pakistan have been dueling with each other since 1947 for accession or occupation of Kashmir. Both are stuck up on the line of control ever since and presumably would remain so in the future as well. The Kashmiri nation, ethnically different from the people of Pakistan and India cannot travel across the artificial border.
India makes a legal case for her occupation of Kashmir by citing the agreement reached with the Dogra monarch Hari Singh ruling Kashmir at the time of partition. Pakistan’s claim on Kashmir is based upon the partition formula stipulating that the majority of the religious population would be basic criterion for a state to join either India or Pakistan.
In simple terms it means Muslims majority areas to join Pakistan and the Hindus majority areas with India. India’s claim for annexation of Kashmir is based upon the then monarch of Kashmir Hari Singh’s hasty accession to India.
Because of the unrelenting insurgency and continuous internal unrest in the Indian occupied part of Kashmir, India started deploying security forces through 1990s under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act ( AFSPA) that continue to remain camped on the Indian side of Kashmir ever since. Lately their number has reached 700,000. This is the highest number of armed forces deployment by any country in the post world war in the disputed territories.
The stationing of such massive military presence is a counterpoise to the Pakistan much smaller military deployment in Pakistan’s controlled Kashmir. The deployment of Indian military and para military forces is aimed at suppressing any riots and internal liberation movements launched by the freedom fighters from time to time. The Indian army has been accused of gross human right violation and perpetration of civilian casualties.
The population of Kashmir in both parts under India and Pakistan is around 16 million. Out of this 12.5 million live in the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir and the remaining 3 million in the Azad Kashmir part of Pakistan. With the phased addition of 700,000 Indian security forces the population in the Indian part of Kashmir has soared to over 13 million thus changing the demographics.
Such a colossal presence of army means that India does not trust the local Kashmiri Muslim population. It means that for every 20 citizens there was one Indian soldier. There are no confirmed reports that the army officials are entering into matrimonial relations with the local girls. But with the army camps all over, the contacts between the local population and the army rank and file cannot be ruled out.
The Indian army is free to arrest, kill or incarcerate any person or group suspicious of being anti India militant or covertly to overtly involve against India in a liberation struggle. There have been unmarked graves that are alleged to be the insurgents killed by the Indian army and buried there. But on the positive side Indian army has engaged itself in education projects and provision of social services to win the sympathies of Kashmiris and to mitigate the anti-Indian sentiment.
Pakistan and India have fought four wars over Kashmir but none has been conclusive in favor of either by way of total invasion or conquest of Kashmir. These wars were fought in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999(Kargil). The Kashmir territory is occupied by three regional countries. India possesses 39000 sq miles, Pakistan 33000 sq miles and China occupies 14500 sq. miles.
Pakistan controls the North West region that includes northern areas and Azad Kashmir. India occupies the central and southern portion of Jammu, Kashmir valley and Laddakh. The areas under Chinese sway are the northeastern tracts, Trans Karakorum and Aksai Chin. In addition, major portion of Siachen glacier including Saltoro ridge passes are held by India. The lower portions of Saltoro Ridge are under the control of Pakistan.
Following the initial skirmishes between India and Pakistan, during 1947-1948, a ceasefire was agreed upon between the two belligerents under the UN auspices (resolution 47). The resolution called for holding a plebiscite for eliciting the opinion of the Kashmiris whether they would opt to join Pakistan or India. However, such a plebiscite has never been conducted.
The final, yet abortive military incursion was attempted was made by the president Musharraf to get hold of the Kargil heights. Due to a drastic divergent of stands between the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and president Musharraf, as well logistic bottlenecks, the mission resulted in a terrible fiasco for Pakistan. Although in the initial stages Pakistani forces occupied strategic locations but then had to vacate those under massive Indian response as well as under the intentional pressure.
The stalemate over the final resolution of this most lingering dispute between the two inveterate neighbors is likely to continue indefinitely until both agree to earnestly find its mutually acceptable solution. But such a solution can remain elusive as the Kashmiris nation itself is divided on a consensus formula that could bring an end to this tricky impasse entailing appalling loss of human lives besides prolonged bondage of a nation through use of force.
One faction of Kashmiris wants to align with Pakistan, the second want to join India and the third asserts for an independent Kashmir. India tacitly prefers to convert the existing line of control as a permanent border. Perhaps Some Pakistani rulers such as Nawaz Sharif were also in favor of such a solution. But even this more pragmatic way-out would still not be adequate to quell the anti India-sentiments and uprising in its entirety in the Indian held Kashmir.
The ongoing times are not conducive or fruitful for a conventional wars in which one would subdue the other by sword or through better fighting skills. Nor is it a time for the lion hearted to prevail because even a meek or faint-hearted can shoot others from a hidden location.
As such neither country can attain a military victory unless one of these has superior weaponry and larger force. In this case it is India that enjoys both these upper edges. Traditionally Pakistan has seldom proven to be a matching fighting force, though its military have fought well in 1965.
In the initial stages after the partition there was reportedly an offer from India to swap Hyderabad Deccan with Kashmir Valley. But this offer was spurned by the then Pakistani leadership. India thereafter annexed the princely state of Hyderabad by a military operation. Thus an invaluable option for resolving the Kashmir dispute was wasted by Pakistan.
India’s use of force for annexation of Hyderabad carried the argument that since it was a state with majority Hindu population, India had a right to forcibly annex it. But paradoxically this formula was set aside in the case of Kashmir where Muslims are in majority.
Even if by some miracle Pakistan wins the Kashmir case in the international court, India would never relinquish her hold over that enchanting and strategically crucial valley. Nor would India care to ever hold a plebiscite in Kashmir fully mindful that such step would go in favor of Pakistan.
Israel is one example in such a scenario which occupies the Palestinian territories by brazen violation of rule set out by the UNO charter. Yet Israel cannot be forcibly pushed out by the rebellious Palestinians or by dint of international opinion. Pakistan as such should treat Kashmir issue as a closed or lost case.