India’s official position is that Kashmir belongs to India. Whereas Pakistan’s official position is that Kashmir is a disputed territory whose final status must be determined by the people of Kashmir. Islamabad has always maintained that majority Muslim Kashmir should have been a part of Pakistan. A United Nations resolution adopted after the first war called for a referendum allowing the people of Kashmir to choose which country they wanted to join. But that vote for self-determination has never been held. Pakistan wants that referendum should take place. It is interesting that neither country wants Kashmir to become an independent nation as it is a small part of the earth. With this view, attempts to solve the conflict through political discussions were unsuccessful.
In the context of these conflicts and disputes, India and Pakistan have fought numerous armed conflicts with each other since their creation following the end of the British Raj and the subsequent partition of India in August 1947. The two South Asian nations have been involved in three major wars, one undeclared war and numerous border skirmishes and military standoffs. The Kashmir dispute is the major one and it has been the root cause of all major conflicts between the two countries with the exception of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, where the dispute concerned the erstwhile East Pakistan.
India and Pakistan have fought at least three wars over Kashmir, as it is mainly called Indo-Pakistan Wars of 1965, 1971 and 1999 as followings. Much of the war was fought by land forces in Kashmir along the international border between Pakistan and India.
The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 was a culmination of skirmishes that took place between April and September 1965. It was fought over the disputed border region of Kashmir. The five-week war caused the loss of 3,000 Indians and 3,800 Pakistanis. It ended in a United Nations mandated ceasefire and the subsequent Taskent Declaration (wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Pakistan_War).
The War of 1971 was a military conflict between two countries during the period between 3 to 16 December. It was closely associated with the brewing in erstwhile East Pakistan culminating in the declaration of independence as Bangladesh from the state system of Pakistan. This war saw the highest number of fatalities of 3,813 Indians and 9,000 Pakistanis. After 14 days of armed hostilities, the war ended with the creation of Bangladesh.
Indo-Pakistan War of 1999 is known as Kargil Conflict. It was an armed conflict that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and along the LoC. The cause of the war was accused as the infiltration, blaming each other by both the sides, violating the de-facto border between the two states. This was one of the recent examples of high altitude warfare in mountainous terrain. The loss was somehow less in comparison to the past wars. The number of fatalities was 527 Indians and 453 Pakistanis. The war was ended with international support to force to withdraw the forces along the LoC. All these skirmishes and wars and tension along the LoC show that Indo-Pakistan border is unquiet. It has affected the general people of both the frontiers of LoC.
The unquiet border issue should be resolved amicably with a spirit of brotherhood, free and frank manner and reciprocity and justice. As the past approaches reflect that the leadership in Pakistan and of the Kashmir with a positive and flexible approach has put forth several proposals to resolve the dispute. But it seems that India has not responded well to reciprocate. According to the partition Plan of India in 1947, the accession of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, either with India or Pakistan, was to be decided in the light of its people’s wishes and the geographic contiguity of that area.
A free and fair plebiscite under international auspices as per United Nations Resolution should be conducted to determine the will of the people of that region. Mahatma Gandhi had once said ‘If the people of Kashmir are in favour of opting for Pakistan, no power on earth can stop them from doing so. They should be left free to decide for themselves. (Complete Works of Mahatma Gandhi (1947), page 413, speech at Prayer Meeting, 26 October 1947).
Most recently, Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif has invited India to come into dialogue mentioning that Pakistan is committed to resolve all the existing disputes including Jammu & Kashmir through the dialogue. Nawaz Sharif on February 5, 2014 said India should accept Kashmiri’s right to self-determination, and he invited it to resolve the issue peacefully through dialogue. Addressing a joint sitting of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and Kashmir Council on Kashmir Solidarity Day in Muzaffarabad, the prime minister said his government was ready to discuss all outstanding issues with India, including Kashmir. He invited India to engage in a ‘comprehensive sustained and result-oriented dialogue process.’ Sharif stressed that the region will remain in the grip of “mistrust and tension” as long as the Kashmir dispute is not resolved in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan said, unless the Kashmir issue was resolved, there would be uncertainty in the region. He hoped India would respond positively to this invitation for a dialogue and fulfill the Kashmiri people’s aspirations to decide their fate. Fundamental rights and self-determination needed to be enforced, the Prime Minister said, adding the struggle of the Kashmiris was a reaction to the ‘atrocities’ committed by Indian security agencies (The Hindu, Islamabad, February 5, 2014).
The most important matter is that India must reciprocate and come into dialogue for the peaceful settlement on Kashmir issue with justifiable manner.
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