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Kashmir: Paradise Exposed To Hell
Our group topic: “Causes and Effects of Wars” provoked me to write about the threatening dispute of “Jammu and Kashmir” which has become more threatening after the nuclear capabilities of India and Pakistan. My main claim revolves around the theme that the burning dispute of Kashmir, between India and Pakistan can play a vital role in the emergence of third world war and can act as battle-field for a nuclear war. Due to geographical and social impacts on the world these countries have realized some big nations to resolve the issue.
South Asia, a land of deep historical and cultural representations has more than one billion population. Dominated by British colonization for nearly a century, this region contains a variety of imprints of British rule.
South Asia is the region that holds evidences of one of the ancient civilization of the world. The unsettled conditions of the eighteenth century provided an opening for the European imperialism in this region. In 1957, British Empire took hold of the Indian sub-continent and South Asia was colonized by British Empire. In 1947, when British Empire surrendered control of the Indian sub-continent, the land was divided into two major parts. The Hindu majority area became the independent nation of India and Muslim majority area became the independent nation of Pakistan. Since then they have fought many wars and several battles that have affected the both nations as well as the neighboring countries. Now as both nations have gained the nuclear capabilities so they are predicted as the battleground for a possible nuclear war.
“ If one were to take to praise Kashmir, whole books would be written…Kashmir is a garden of eternal spring, or an iron fort to the palace of kings-a delightful flower-bed, and a heart expanding heritage for dervishes”(Danger In Kashmir 3). Kashmir, with its lush valley nestled among some of the world’s most spectacular mountains, was once one of the South Asia’s premier tourist destinations; now, however, it is a battle-scarred war zone. Kashmir is an area on the northern borders of India and Pakistan: officially known as Jammu & Kashmir. Kashmir is famous for its natural beauty and has often been referred to as the “Switzerland of the East”. “The population according to latest data exceeds than fourteen million inhabitants” (Diversity Amid Globalization 505). The heart of the area is the fertile Valley of Kashmir, which lies between the Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range. Here the climate is mild and the soil well watered. “Kashmir covers an area of 222,237 Km2 (85,800 square miles). Mount Godwin Austen/K2 (8,611m/28,250 ft) and Mount Nanga Parbat (8,123m/26,650 ft) lie in Northern Kashmir” (http://www.ummah.org.uk/kashmir).
The root causes of the Kashmir problem are to be found in the events leading to the partition of the Indian subcontinent and the ideological perspectives of the All-India Muslim League (AIML) and the Indian National Congress (INC). The AIML stood for Muslim separation and the creation of a Muslim homeland while INC stood for the Hindu separation and the creation of Hindu homeland. During the British rule on South Asia, Kashmir was a large province having a majority of Muslim population. Kashmir also included a Hindu district named as Jammu in its territory. Due to the difference in religion, culture, social life, customs and opposite traditions and believes it was very hard to mix the both religions. At the time of partition, Kashmir had being ruled by a Hindu Maharaja (King) who was sharing Kashmir as a legacy of his forefathers. The people of Kashmir wanted get rid of their Hindu ruler due to the difference in the religion. At that time the Maharaja called on India to help him. He knew that he could not count on Pakistan for help, as Pakistan was a Muslim country. On the contrary, India was willing to help him. They sent their troops into Kashmir to help Maharaja. India soon took over the Kashmir by deploying its army. At that time, Indian authorities, which had good relationships with Viceroy from British Empire, conspired against Pakistan and Kashmir. Due to this secret conspiracy, Kashmiri inhabitants were left alone. India stated that it would arrange fair elections and that kashmiri inhabitants would be able to choose their own leader. Till then, neither an election nor a referendum has been introduced by Indian government.
“The partition of Indian continent, as was to be expected, did not resolve the problem of two communities. Instead of ending the Hindu-Muslim conflict, the division of the country merely elevated the inter-community blood-bath into inter-state rivalry. By the time India was partitioned, considerable venom had been injected into the body politics of both countries. Partition itself was accompanied by some of the worst carnage in Indian history and all semblance of goodwill, decency, and sanity disappeared” (Perspectives on Kashmir 48).
Pakistani authorities did not accept the partition of Kashmir and objected the decision made by Viceroy. Ultimately they decided to fight. In the first war that was fought in 1948, Pakistan gained a slice western and northern Kashmir, but the main territory’s core remained under Indian control. Since then both nations have fought several wars and remained locked today in bitter animosity and has caused an extreme political instability in the region. The two main wars between these two nations were fought in 1965 and 1971 respectively. These two wars, accompanied by several battles and extreme exchange of military attacks on the line of control (border between India and Pakistan) are the outgrowth of the burning issue of Kashmir. These two wars resulted as serious political tensions, economic disaster and loss of property and lives. These two wars proved as nightmares for the inhabitants of this region and stopped the development of the two nations, that is why, the region is one of the poorest region in the world.
According to famous generalist: Alastair lamb (US), “ In one sense the Kashmir problem can be seen as a consequence of British failure to find a satisfactory method for the integration of the Princely States into the independent India and Pakistan which succeeded the British Raj. There were 562 Princely States in British India by the time of the transfer of power, and they covered over one-third of the total area of the Indian Empire” (The Kashmir Problem 3).
So it can be assumed that issue of Kashmir has proved the bone of contention between the relationships of both nations and has resulted in the bitter animosity. Each country claims Kashmir as a part of its territory. As a result of a rebellion in 1947 and the subsequent wars between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, the area is separated by a Line-of-Control (LOC or cease-fire line). To the east of the LOC lies the vale of Kashmir, Jammu that is administered by India. To the west lies the area now known as 'Azad [Free] Kashmir’ that is governed by its own government with strong ties with Pakistan. Inhabitants of the Indian side of Kashmir or Occupied Kashmir are fighting for the freedom for last fifty years. They have been sacrificing their lives and are being martrayed by Indian Army for last several years. There are many freedom-movements working in the area that has also resulted a large number of innocent deaths. They are fighting for their freedom and as the result inhabitants have to face the brutal violence by Indian Army. There are many other movements working in the area for the independence of the region. Indian government has always blamed Pakistan for its involvement in that movements and Pakistan has always regretted the objections.
“The US State department, Amnesty International and Human Rights watch have recorded varying categories of human rights violation in Kashmir by Indian army. These include:
Torture and custodial killings.
Use of Excessive force and violations of humanitarian laws.
Political and extra judicial killings.
Arbitrary interference into privacy, family, home and correspondence.
Denial of fair trial.
Suppression of religious freedom.
Suppression of freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
Suppression of freedom of speech and press.
Opprobrious treatment of elderly.
Repression against holding peaceful demonstrations.
Due to these excesses, more than 60,000 Kashmiris have been killed since 1990, with a lot more unaccounted for. Thousands of helpless Muslim Kashmiris have fled across the Line-of-Control to Azad Kashmir and Pakistan are now living in refugee camps” (http://ummah.org.uk/kashmir).
According to Amnesty International, following data shows the number of deaths and number of violent activities by Indian troops in the dispute valley of Jammu and Kashmir. According to the latest information, more than sixty thousand inhabitants have been mercilessly butchered to death since 1989 in the valley.
“Kashmir has suffered an in-human violence since the partition of South Asia, but 1989, the violence is increased and has resulted in the deaths of innocent inhabitants. The following chart shows the number of inhabitants that were made disabled by extreme and brutal violence by Indian army along with the precise number of deaths for last ten years”(http://ummah.org.uk).
More recently, India has increased its army in Kashmir to suppress the Kashmiri Inhabitants. “ The deployment of 600,000 troops to silence the voice of Kashmiri people is seen as the only solution by the Indian government, resulting in gross violations of human rights” (Divided Kashmir 2). According to the United Nation, “About ten to twelve innocent people are killed every week by Indian paramilitary forces. There is only one soldier to every six Kashmirs and approximately eight thousand Kashmiris are martrayed every year” ( http://www.un.org).
The Amnesty International is trying to draw attention of world’s big nations towards this issue. According to their data, since 1992, indiscriminate firing caused the deaths of 59,170 Kashmiri people. 585 were burnt alive, more than two thousands Kashmiri people lost their lives due to extreme torture, record cases of deaths caused by throwing in rivers reaches to four thousand, more than 100,000 were forced to leave their homes and seventy thousand are still missing. Is this what India was called for? Is this what Indian government calls “peace”. Human rights violations that includes extra judicial killings, rape, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, disappearances, destruction of homes and shops, denial of fair trial and excessive paramilitary force and violation of humanitarian laws, suppression of freedom of speech. Due to the self-determination of Kashmiri people, Indian army can’t control them so they are using illegal and brutal ways to control them. Killing can’t solve the problem. Indian troops kill young children right in front of their parents. They rape innocent girls in front of their brothers and fathers. The extent of torture, killings and rapes perpetrated on Kashmiri people by Indian forces are already creating a new record of atrocities. Gouging of eyes, cutting off of men's genitals, use of ever-new methods of torture and endless curfews would shame Hitler's SS death squads. The Indian occupation army's deviltry such as gang rapes, burning of entire villages and crops, destruction of economic life of whole communities and genocide of the Kashmiri people in defiance of international human rights laws, are everyday affairs. According to UN, “An estimated one million women have been bereaved, tortured or humiliated and beaten up or killed; many hundreds have been subjected to barbaric sexual assaults. Sexual harassment is used as a weapon to subvert people into submission” (http://ummah.com/kashmir/atroc). This database represents only a minute proportion of the Indian atrocities in Kashmir as the majority goes undocumented.
On the other side, Pakistani government thinks that it owes Jammu and Kashmir. Though they haven’t recognized that they are supporting freedom fighters in Jammu and Kashmir, infect they provide them some ammunition and moral support. This resulted in extreme violence in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan is spending huge money from its annual budget on Kashmir and on its defense despite the fact that Kashmir is not under its control. Similarly, “Indian government is spending 10.7 percent of its annual budget for its defense in Kashmir” (Annual Budget of India 1999’ 674).
While South Asia grapples with the existence of nuclear weapons, ethnic conflict, terrorism, and other threats, it also affords new opportunities for market reform, growth of democratic institutions, and closer ties with the United States. In the fourth month of 1999, when both nations conducted nuclear tests, the situation has become tenser and has produced a threat of nuclear war in the region. Many experts and intellectuals have pointed the region as the battlefield of the next world war that might be a nuclear war. That is why, United Nation is trying to resolve this matter and stabilize the political instability of South Asia.
Since 1948, United-Nation has tried to solve the tense situation many times, but it has not been able to resolve the dispute. Many experts criticize that UN hasn’t played a sufficient role to resolve the dispute. Security Council and General assembly have passed twenty resolutions but all in vain and couldn’t reach a peaceful settlement. The Security Council promised a referendum, in the form of a plebiscite, to the people of Kashmir in 1948. India then accepted the principle of plebiscite but has since obstructed all attempts at arranging fair elections or referendum. Since then the situation got out of hands of United Nation and still UN is unable to provide a peaceful solution.
Pakistani Information Minister in his interview with CNN in 1999 said, “We have been saying that the United Nations and the secretary-general should intervene because this is a threat to peace and regional stability” (http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/asiapcf/9905/27/pakistan.reax).
On May 11, 1998 the Indian government announced that they had conducted a series of successful nuclear tests at their test facility in the Rajasthan Desert. On May 13, the Indian government announced that it conducted two further tests. The Pakistan government responded with a series of there own tests. On May 28 the Pakistani government announced that they had exploded 5 nuclear devices in the southwestern part of Pakistan. These tests were followed by another test on May 30. As now both nations have gained nuclear capabilities, it is a very critical situation for the whole world. Now their nuclear capabilities have drawn the attention of the entire globe to this dispute and many experts have pointed the region as the battleground for next world war.
It is very important for both nations to have peaceful relationship because the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir has played a vital role to make them one of the poorest regions in the world. Pakistan: a populous country of 160 million inhabitants is spending twenty five percent of its annual revenue for its defense capabilities. In 1999, Pakistan’s annual revenue was approximately eleven billion dollars. Out of which, approximately three billion was spent on the army. It is a very huge amount for a poor country like Pakistan. That is why, Pakistan spends two percent of annual revenue on education and as a result sixty three percent of its population is illiterate (Kashmir in The Crossfire 46). Similarly in India, government is spending one-fifth of its annual revenue to its defense capabilities and as a result it has become one the most poorest nation in the world. They should spend money on the needs of ordinary citizens rather than wasting money on their defense capabilities.
Today the burning dispute of Jammu and Kashmir remains unsolved. It seems that both nations are filled with bitter animosity for each other and as a result the dispute is still there as it was fifty years ago. Both nations are escalating the conflict and it seems that there might be no solution until any serious action is taken by United Nation. The United Nation and The United States had arranged many table talks to resolve the conflict. For a moment it was seemed that they would solve this issue, but as soon as the talks were over, both countries started using propaganda’s.
To resolve this burning issue, all big nations should participate in the United Nations peace programs and should stress India and Pakistan to solve the conflict as soon as possible. United Nation should stress India to hold election in Kashmir. The best solution will be the United Nation’s contribution in the election to make them fair and safe. All countries should try to establish good relationship between these neighbors. Kashmiri people have suffered the loss of thousands of lives since partition and it is the time that this issue should be solved according to the will of Kashmiri people.
“Britannica Information Package” - http://www.britannica.com
CNN - http://www.cnn.com
“Danger in Kashmir” by Josef Korbel
“Diversity Amid Globalization” (For World Regional Geography’s Students) (Page 495-537)
“Divided Kashmir” by Rahman Mushtaqur
“Kashmir Websites” - http://www.ummah.org.uk/kashmir, http://www.kashmir.com, http://www.klc.org.pk, http://www.jammu-kashmir.org
“Kashmir in the Crossfire” by Victoria Schofield
“Perspectives on Kashmir” by Raju G.C Thomas
“The Kashmir Problem” by Alastair Lamb
United Nation’s official website - http://www.un.org
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