Frequently Asked Questions on Kashmir
by Vikas Kamat
First Online: February 01, 2002
Page Last Updated: May 09, 2017
|Can you tell us the real truth about Kashmir?|| |
I can try.
Both nations have a claim to Kashmir. Pakistan cites the terms of Partition
of the subcontinent, when areas of Muslim majority went to Pakistan. However,
the terms applied only to British territory and not to Kashmir, which was ruled
by Maharaja Hari Singh. Both new born countries lobbied hard for his
allegiance, but he aligned with India, for his own interests.
I quote Prof. Sumantra Bose, a well-respected researcher of the Kashmir
Ultimately, the Indians gained Kashmir because the most important
political movement of that time, the National Conference Movement of the Kashmiri Muslims preferred India to
Pakistan, if it came to a choice between these two. So it was not just the
Maharaja's signature that sealed the deal for India. National
Conference was led by a very charismatic Kashmiri leader called Sheikh Mohammad
Abdullah. Sheikh Abdullah was known at that time as Sher-e-Kashmir, the Lion
of Kashmir, and there was little doubt about the fact that he preferred India
to Pakistan. This preference was a decisive factor.
Why are Pakistanis reluctant to acknowledge the importance of this
factor? It is because it blows a big hole in the myth of Muslim solidarity. It
shows that there were influential Muslim groups, including Sheikh Abdullah's
movement in Jammu and Kashmir, which were not in favor of Pakistan simply
because they were Muslims. They were prepared to take their chances in India
and test India's claims to being a secular, tolerant and inclusive republic.
-- Prof. Sumantra Bose in a 2001 interview with Fathom.
I personally think Kashmir belonged to India than to Pakistan. Kashmir in
1947 had about 30% Hindus, and they were unwelcome in Pakistan as it was an Islamic
nation. But both Hindus and Muslims could live in India due to its secular
|What is the plebiscite?|| |
In 1948, The U.N. passed a resolution calling for Kashmiris to determine
their governance. This referendum has never been held, because it is not clear
of its details or its legitimacy.
Pakistan feels that the referendum be held in Indian part of Kashmir asking
the people whether they'd like to affiliate with India or Pakistan. Some in
India feel that the referendum should include whole of Kashmir, including the
Pakistan occupied Kashmir, and a third option, for creation of a nation of
Kashmir be provided on the ballot.
While people determining to which nation they should belong seems like a
legitimate solution, it certainly is not a fair one. Imagine what would
have happened if Abraham Lincoln went in for a referendum in the South instead
of the war -- the South most certainly would have seceded. Another instance is
Bosnia, where a referendum on independence, which was massively boycotted by the
Bosnian Serbs who made up about 35% of the population in 1992, made civil
India will never agree to a referendum because numerous other states
within India over the years (notably Punjab and Assam) have asked to be
independent nations. It would be a bad (and IMHO unfair) precedent.
Indians believe that as long as elections are held for local governments in
Kashmir, they are honoring people's will.
|Is independence to Kashmir a solution?|| |
Perhaps. But if you study the Kashmir problem closely, you will agree that it
is not a probable solution. It would not satisfy the warring factions, it would
not satisfy Pakistan, and it would not satisfy India. Further, a land-locked
country with inherent religious diversity, and constantly meddling neighbors
would hold a bleak future for her people.|
|Are there any other solutions?|| |
As a believer in non-violence, I must believe that there is.
There was peace in Kashmir
The solution is co-habitation of Hindus and Muslims as they have done so for centuries. Pakistan must realize that it will never, ever will be able to
control Indian administered Kashmir. Muslims outside of India must realize that
Kashmir is not a Hindu-Muslim problem, because there are Muslims living in each
and every village of India, who will never be able to settle in Pakistan. The Indian
Government must do a better job educating the people of Pakistan that they are
supporting an unjust cause.
- Our Kashmir -- Pictures of arts, crafts, and people of the Indian part of Kashmir
- Partition of India -- The partition of India is perhaps the most painful one episode in the sub-continent. A summary of important considerations of partition with pointers to further study.
Submit new questions to
Ethnicity & Conflict