Kashmir – genesis of the conflict

by Matin Baraki*

When British rule in India could no longer be maintained as a result of the national movement of the peoples of the Indian subcontinent’s anti-colonial struggle, the colonisers used the tried and tested “divide et impera” method to extend their rule at least under changed circumstances. The first measures were aimed at dividing the anti-colonial movement by portraying it ethnically and religiously or trying to influence it in this way. As a result, secular forces emerged under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru, and forces with a religious orientation under the direction of the Muslim League of Mohammed Ali Jinah.
Historical background
Both Gandhi and Nehru fought for the liberation of the entire unified Indian subcontinent, as did their comrade-in-arms, the legendary Pashtun leader Abdul Ghafahr Khan. M. A. Jinah justified the “two-nation-theory” above all religiously, and his Muslim League spread this idea. At the same time, the British secret service fanned the flames by having heads of slaughtered cows deposited behind the doors of the Hindus and torn or partly burned Koran editions behind the doors of the Muslims.1 This initiated the cruellest civil war in Indian history, with violent massacres between Hindus and Muslims, which justified the division of India and made it seem inevitable. In this way, the British colonial power achieved its first goal.
In order to maintain its weighty influence also in the future shaping of the subcontinent, Great Britain sent Lord Mountbatten as viceroy to India at the beginning of 1947, “in order to divide the subcontinent in the shortest possible time”.2 According to the Mountbatten Plan the division of India was to be completed within only one hundred days. This was realised on 15 August 1947, and caused unimaginable chaos. The border between the newly formed states, the Indian Union on the one hand and Pakistan on the other, was arbitrarily drawn in the midst of the Punjabs, which were at that time populated by different peoples. So now a flight movement of 16 million people, a scale unknown until then, was triggered on both sides of the border, as the Hindus fled to India and the Muslims to Pakistan.
While the Indian government respected the different religious denominations of its population, as these could neither justify the division of India nor the later division of Kashmir, the Pakistani government, newly launched on 14 August 1947, justified its existence on religious grounds alone and claimed to be the representative of all Muslims on the Indian subcontinent, including of course the Muslim majority of over 70% in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
In order to enforce this claim, Pakistani authorities initiated an invasion: as of 22 October 1947, “several thousand tribal warriors attached to Islam, coming from the Pakistan-Afghan border, invaded the West of Jammu and Kashmir, which had already been shaken by unrest. They devastated and plundered the villages along their path and on 25 October 1947 were not far from the capital Srinagar”.3 These members of the mountain tribes, who had previously known only light handguns, used tanks, guns and even planes in their invasion of Jammu and Kashmir.4 One need not speculate too long about who they had received these heavy weapons from.
This event marked the birth of the 72-year conflict that has led to four wars between India and Pakistan since 1947 – three of them because of the dispute over the strategically important Himalayan region of Kashmir. The end of this conflict is still not in sight.
To ensure the integrity of his country, the Maharajah (Prince) of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, declared his country’s accession to the Indian Union on 26 October 1947 and wrote to the Indian government requesting military support. This declaration of accession was formally adopted by Viceroy Mountbatten on 27 October, and he advised Indian Prime Minister Nehru to recognise the accession. On this basis, the Indian Government provided military assistance. This first Indo-Pakistani war lasted until the end of 1948.
Since January 1948, the UN Security Council dealt with the conflict. On the basis of the resolution of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) of 13 August 1948, a ceasefire was agreed on 1 January 1949, involving a demarcation line along the random battle lines between the troops of both countries.5 This also marked the division of Kashmir, which led to further Indian-Pakistani wars.
The future status of Kashmir was to be decided by a plebiscite. This emerges from a letter from Mountbatten to the Maharajah Hari Singh, which Pakistan has repeatedly referred to ever since. It says, among other things, “the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the state; it is the wish of my government that once law and order have been restored in Kashmir and its territory has been cleared of the invader, the question of accession […] should be decided with the involvement of the people”.6
To this day, law and order are non-existent in Kashmir, nor have the conditions for a referendum been fulfilled. Also “Nehru realised that a referendum had to infringe on one or the other idea of a state. If the Muslims chose Pakistan, this would infringe on the idea of a secular state; if they chose India, this would at the same time put Pakistan’s reason for existing into question.”7
What actually makes the Grand Duchy of Kashmir, praised by the Mogul Emperor Jahangir as “paradise on earth” almost 400 years ago, so desirable in our time? Apart from important mineral resources such as coal, oil, iron ore, nickel, lead, copper, gold, etc., a glance at the map is enough to recognise its geostrategic significance. The country is a central hub because it borders on the People’s Republic of China, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan and is only separated from Kazakhstan by a narrow strip of land. This is what makes this country so important and this is therefore one of the causes of the conflict.

Antagonistic foreign policy orientations

India’s foreign policy was aimed at non-alignment and at the support of the liberation struggle of the countries which were still under colonial rule. In March 1947, i.e. on the eve of independence, Indian politicians had already issued invitations to the historic “Asian Relations Conference” in New Delhi to discuss the problems of the further anti-colonial struggle and the relations between the young nation states. Meanwhile the Pakistani government from the start initiated a clearly Western-oriented foreign policy. The contrast could not become more pronounced when, on 8 September 1954, Pakistan became a member of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization SEATO, founded by the USA, while India became the initiator and founding member of the group of non-aligned states and of the conference of 29 sovereign African and Asian nations, which took place from 18 to 24 April 1955 in Bandung (Indonesia).
The Pakistani government went one better when, on 23 September 1955, it declared its accession to the Baghdad Pact8, which was led by Great Britain. With the support of the Central Treaty Organization CENTO, Pakistan hoped to be able to resolve the Kashmir conflict from a position of strength. Had the Indian government backed away from its “immoral non-alignment policy”9 , according to a drastic formulation of the then US Secretary of State John Forster Dulles, and had it in some form joined the alliances founded by the West, there might not have been any Kashmir conflict in the last 72 years at all.10
Pakistan’s proclamation of the Islamic Republic on 23 March 1956 was intended to further emphasise its claim to be the legitimate representative of the Muslims living in Kashmir. The Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir on 17 November 1956 decided to join the Indian Union and on 26 January 1957 put into force a constitution for Kashmir in which “it is established that all of Kashmir is an integral part of the Republic of India”.11 In this way, their accession to the Indian Union, which had already been carried out in 1947, was constitutionally sanctioned on the basis of Art. 370 on 27 January 1957.
On 27 October 1958, the economic and domestic political crisis in Pakistan led the military to stage a coup under the leadership of Field Marshal Ayub Khan. The militarisation of Pakistan’s domestic and foreign policies and the inclusion of Kashmir in the Indian Union exacerbated tensions over the Kashmir question, which then culminated in the second Indian-Pakistan war in September 1965. While the People’s Republic of China sent threats to India, the Prime Minister of the Soviet Union, Alexej Kossygin, mediated between the conflict parties in Tashkent. As a result, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistan’s President Ayub Khan concluded a ceasefire and, under Article I of the Tashkent Declaration of 10 January 1966, agreed not to engage in any violent attepts to resolve the conflict.12 Based on Article XI of the Tashkent Declaration, further high-level meetings were agreed. Since these did not come about, however, a meeting of the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan took place in Rawalpindi from 1 to 2 March 1966. Although intensive diplomatic activities followed, it was not possible to minimise the tension between the two countries. Instead, the opponents polemicised against each other and accused each other of being responsible for the failure of a resolution of the Kashmir conflict. In 1969, with the help of the People’s Republic of China, a road was built which linked Kashmir to Sinkiang and changed the strategic position of the region to the detriment of India. Also some Propakistani politicians were arrested in Kashmir. All this further exacerbated tensions. They were brought to a temporary climax at the end of January 1971, when an Indian Airlines plane was hijacked by separatist Kashmiri to Lahore (Pakistan), where the plane was blown up and the hijackers were given asylum. In the history of Pakistan-India relations, 1971 was marked by a lack of willingness to engage in dialogue and by mutual diplomatic denunciations on the international stage. Towards the end of that year (3 December 1971) this led to the third Indo-Pakistani war, resulting in the defeat of Pakistan on 16 December 1971 and in the secession of East Pakistan as an independent state under the name of Bangladesh.
These war events prevented the previously agreed further meetings at the highest level. Only after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had assumed office as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan on 20 December 1971, a meeting between the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Z. A. Bhutto came about in Simla (North India) from 28 June to 2 July 1972. On 2 July 1972, I. Gandhi and Z. A. Bhutto personally signed the Simla Agreement, in which both sides undertook to resolve the Kashmir conflict peacefully.13 However, hardly having returned from Simla, Z. A. Bhutto initiated Pakistan’s nuclear programme, which he hoped would have a deterrent effect on India. This would lead to a shift in the balance of power in favour of Pakistan with regard to solving the Kashmir problem.14 However, it took just two years for India to follow suit and, in 1974, to detonate a nuclear device.15 Now we know for sure that both countries carried out a total of eleven underground nuclear tests in May 1998 (India on 11 and 13 May and Pakistan on 28 and 30 May six).16
The Kashmir conflict is in many respects highly critical for the neighbouring states, but also for international politics.
Firstly: In autumn 1959, the People’s Republic of China staged a cloak and dagger military operation against India and occupied the northeastern part of Jammu and Kashmir.17 In another border war, the People’s Republic of China occupied considerable areas in northeastern India in 1962, incorporated them into its Sinkiang province and simply called them “Aksai Chin”.
When the People’s Republic of China detonated its first atomic bomb on 16 October 1964, it was no longer prepared to negotiate the return of “Aksai” to India. This situation reinforced Pakistan’s position vis-à-vis India, since it remained allied with the People’s Republic of China during all bourgeois and military regimes, and entailed the intensification of further conflicts as well as India’s taking a more defensive position in regard to the Kashmir issue. Moreover, since then not only the new nuclear powers India and Pakistan have been involved in the Kashmir conflict, but also another nuclear power, the People’s Republic of China.
Secondly, while the Indian governments adhered to the Tashkent and Simla agreements, the Pakistani governments kept provoking India, in order to keep the Kashmir conflict simmering, among other things by demanding a plebiscite. For “although it may sound cynical, it was and is the overwhelming conflict with India, which has held Pakistan and its diverging political and ideological forces together.18 Apart from the fact that Pakistan has no legitimacy to make any demands of India and that the accession of Kashmir to the Indian Union has rendered a new plebiscite obsolete, Indian governments have stressed that if Pakistan withdrew its military from Kashmir, they would be willing to hold a referendum, although this would not only put into question the principle of the secular state to which India is committed, but could also trigger a domino effect and thus threaten the state unity of the Indian Union.19

Secondly, while the Indian governments adhered to the Tashkent and Simla agreements, the Pakistani governments kept provoking India, in order to keep the Kashmir conflict simmering, among other things by demanding a plebiscite. For “although it may sound cynical, it was and is the overwhelming conflict with India, which has held Pakistan and its diverging political and ideological forces together.18 Apart from the fact that Pakistan has no legitimacy to make any demands of India and that the accession of Kashmir to the Indian Union has rendered a new plebiscite obsolete, Indian governments have stressed that if Pakistan withdrew its military from Kashmir, they would be willing to hold a referendum, although this would not only put into question the principle of the secular state to which India is committed, but could also trigger a domino effect and thus threaten the state unity of the Indian Union.19

The current situation and its cause

On 14 February 2019, an assassin near Srinagar, the capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, had driven a car, loaded with large quantities of explosives, into a bus. Over forty Indian soldiers were killed. This was one of the most devastating attacks in Indian Kashmir in 30 years. In 2008, Islamist extremists had for days covered the Indian financial metropolis of Mumbai with terror. The Islamic terrorist organisation Jahish-e Mohammad (JeM), based in Pakistan, claimed responsibilty for the latest attack.20 After the attack, the Indian army began a major operation against the JeM. They discovered a terrorist hideout near the village of Pinglan, on Pakistani territory outside Kashmir. Seven people, including four Indian security guards, died in twelve-hour both-sided firefights. When the JeM, operating from Pakistan, openly admitted its support for the terrorist attack, the Indian Air Force bombed a JeM training camp on Pakistani territory. The Pakistani army then shot down an Indian fighter jet and arrested pilot Abhinandan Varthaman. Shortly afterwards, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that he would release the pilot. Observers interpreted this as an admission of guilt or an act of reparation by Pakistan to defuse the crisis, as the Karachi newspaper “Dawn” noted on 1 March. It is noteworthy that this is the first time since the beginning of the Kashmir conflict that the army has publicly admitted military strikes on the Pakistani side. The Indian government wants to put the leader of JeM, Maulana Masood Azhar, on the terrorist list of the United Nations and complains that the government of the People’s Republic of China is blocking this measure as a veto power. In a statement, the state-run “Global Times” in Beijing demanded “solid evidence”21 from the Indian government against Azhar. Basically, that is a transparent excuse. The JeM accuses itself of having committed the terrorist act.22 Furthermore, the JeM is officially banned in Pakistan. However, its leaders remain untouched in the country. Indian security experts always point out that JeM is still protected by the Pakistani military intelligence service Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). According to the Indian government, several extremist groups controlled by the ISI are fighting against the Indian state.23 Observers from the region confirm that JeM is counted among those Islamist camouflage organisations “that are financed, equipped, trained and assigned with attacks in neighbouring states by the Pakistani military and its secret services”.24 The anti-terror expert and director of the “Institute for Conflict Management”, Ajai Sahni, emphasises that JeM alone would never be able to act autonomously and carry out such terrorist operations.25 Maulana Masood Azhar had already been arrested in Kashmir in the 1990s for terrorist activities. When he hijacked an Indian Airlines plane in 1990 and brought it to Kandahar in Afghanistan, where the Taliban were still in power, he was released in exchange for the passengers. Already at the threat of India, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that his army would not hesitate to strike back. In India, a new parliament was elected in April. For a long time, the incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the “Bharatiya Janata Party” (BJP) was regarded as the winner. However, in the meantime the opposition Congress Party had caught up. In this hot phase of the election campaign, Modi wanted to play the nationalist card and gave the army leadership a free hand. If at all, India’s military reaction would have been appropriate in 2008, when the Islamist extremists terrorised the financial metropolis of Mumbai. Nevertheless, anyone who attributes responsibility for the recent escalation to “the protracted conflict between the two South Asian nuclear powers on New Delhi is putting the cart before the horse”.26 The escalation of the conflict between India and Pakistan seems to have been averted for the time being. Actually, both sides have no interest in a worsening of the conflict, because they know what it entails. In addition, some analysts believe that Pakistan is on the verge of national bankruptcy and would not be able to cope with a war with India.27 “But Pakistan’s state-controlled terrorism will continue”.28 The balance of terror between the two nuclear powers India and Pakistan has so far not “created any significant stability, but favoured conventional wars and hybrid warfare. This includes Pakistan’s systematic use of Islamist terrorists for attacks against India.”29 That is a tactically precisely calculated policy of Islamabad. For Islamic extremist terrorist groups, as “henchmen […], will enable bankrupt Pakistan to wage an irregular war at low cost, which will put India at a disadvantage despite its nuclear and conventional superiority. The military and secret services maintain the conflict with the larger neighbour because it cements the generals’ claim to power over the Pakistani state. Furthermore, it serves retaliation: Kashmir, the origin of hostility, is not the only sore point of the Pakistanis. India’s military support for the secession of Bangladesh in 1971, which halved Pakistan in one fell swoop, the military has not got over this fact to this day.30 On 27 February, the Pakistani newspaper “The Nation” reported on the arrest of 44 suspicious men allegedly linked to the February 14 terrorist act. However, the government in Islamabad seems undecided to arrest the leader of the terrorist group, Maulana Moaood Azhar. Interestingly, the names of some of those arrested are in a dossier handed over by the Indian government to the Pakistani government. India also identified “camps of the terrorist organisation Jaishe-e Mohammad in the neighbouring country.”31 Shehryar Khan Afridi, Minister of State in Pakistan’s Ministry of the Interior, announced that his government was determined to “enforce the rule of law, if evidence would be found against the men.”32 JeM has admitted itself to the terrorist act. There can be no better evidence. The Indians are sceptical and see the arrests more as “cosmetic steps.”33 The Indian anti-terror expert Ajai Sahni predicts that “India’s vulnerability to terrorist attacks “34 will continue in the future. In the past, without exception, all experts and observers of the situation assumed that the danger of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan was possible at any time.35 “In 1999, in the midst of a conflict with India, Pakistan once almost would have brought their nuclear weapons into position.”36 A nuclear war “would be a catastrophe not only for both neighbouring countries, but for the whole world,” warns the Turkish newspaper “Milliyet” on 1 March. Pakistan feels inferior to India in the conventional military field. For this reason Islamabad developed a doctrine of “complete deterrence” some years ago, namely the “full-spectrum deterrence”37, which entails a nuclear first strike. Whereby India excludes the first use of nuclear weapons as a response to a conventional attack by Pakistan.38 The search for a political solution to the conflict is therefore becoming increasingly urgent! The then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had invited the Pakistani military ruler Parvez Musharaf39 to peace talks on 24 May, 2001, in which the primary aim was to find a solution to the Kashmir conflict. Musharaf officially accepted the invitation in a letter to the Indian Prime Minister on 29 May 2001, stressing the importance of good relations for economic development. He took up the core statement of the Indian Prime Minister by describing poverty as the common enemy of both peoples. Pakistan is interested in a stable, prosperous India that lives in peace with its neighbours, and is prepared to go beyond the Kashmir conflict to discuss all other unresolved issues in bilateral relations.40 It is to be hoped, that both sides will make serious efforts to peacefully settle the conflict, which has lasted for more than half a century. If the opponents were unable or unwilling to do so, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Non-Aligned States, to which also India and Pakistan belong, would be suitable meditators.    •

*     Dr phil. Matin Baraki, born 1947 in Afghanistan, worked there as a teacher before coming to Germany. Today he is an expert for Afghanistan and a development policy expert, a member of the Center for Conflict Research and a lecturer for International Politics at the Philipps-University Marburg.

1.    Baraki, Matin. Memory minutes of a conversation with Afghan politician and contemporary witness Ali Mohammad Chorosch, in the summer of 1973 in Bagrami near Kabul
2.    Rösel, Jakob. Die Entstehung des Kaschmirkonflikts (The Origin of the Kashmir Conflict). in: Draguhn, Werner (Ed.). Indien 1999, Hamburg 1999, p. 161 of the German edition
3.    Geiger, Rudolf. Kaschmir. Vier Jahrzehnte eines Konflikts (Kashmir. Four decades of conflict), in: Vereinte Nationen (United Nations), Koblenz, vol. 36, 1988, no. 2, p. 53
4.    cf. Henseleit, Ulrich. Das Kaschmir-Problem (The Kashmir Problem) in: Deutsche Aussenpolitik (German Foreign Policy), Berlin, 1st year, Vol. 5, 1956, p. 465
5.    cf. ibid. and Geiger, Rudolf. Kaschmir. Vier Jahrzehnte eines Konflikts (Kashmir. Four decades of conflicts), loc. cit., p. 54
6.    Geiger, Rudolf. Die Kaschmirfrage im Lichte des Völkerrechts (The Kashmir question in the light of international law). Berlin 1970, p. 246
7.    Rothermund, Dietmar. Die politische Willensbildung in Indien 1900–1960 (Political decision-making in India 1900–1960). Wiesbaden 1965, p. 232
8.    Since 20 August 1959 after Iraq’s withdrawal on 24 March 1959 CENTO
9.    Baraki, Matin. Die Beziehungen zwischen Afghanistan und der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1945–1978, […] (Relations between Afghanistan and the Federal Republic of Germany 1945–1978, [...]), Frankfurt/M. 1996, p. 83
10.    cf. Weidemann, Diethelm. Kaschmir – Knotenpunkt indisch-pakistanischer Konfliktlinien (Kashmir– Junction of Indian-Pakistani lines of conflict). in: Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, Bonn, year 41, vol. 9, 1996, p. 1100
11.    Fisch, Hans. Kaschmir – ein Bestandteil der Indischen Union (Kashmir – a component of the Indian Union), in: Deutsche Aussenpolitik, Berlin, year 2, 1957, vol. 4, p. 313
12.    cf. Chaudhry, Mohammed Saeed. Der Kaschmirkonflikt (The Kashmir conflict). Munich 1976 (in 3 vol.), vol. III, p. 361, German version, see Europa-Archiv, Bonn, 1965, p. D 111
13.    Text of the Treaty, see Europa-Archiv, Bonn, 1972, p. D 358
14.    cf. Subramanian, V. Negarajan. Ein nuklearer Schatten über Kaschmir (A nuclear shadow over Kashmir). In: Le Monde diplomatique, supplement to the daily newspaper (TAZ), Berlin, July 1999, p. 8
15.    cf. Weber, Bernd. Jammu und Kaschmir (Jammu and Kashmir). in: Europäische Sicherheit, Herford, Vol. 43, 1994, No. 10, p. 488
16.    It was more than implausible that some countries criticised the nuclear tests, because Americans, British, Germans, French, Chinese and North Koreans – they all actively supported Pakistan‘s nuclear programme for years. See Randow, Gero von. With a little help. in: Die Zeit, Hamburg, No. 24 of 4 June 1998, p. 6
17.    Since this occupation happened secretly, an exact date cannot be determined. Even the Encyclopaedia Britannica writes about the occupation of northeast Kashmir by the People’s Republic of China, which became known in the course of the year. See Encyclopaedia Britannica, Chicago, Vol. 12, 1973, p. 869.
18.    Weidemann, Diethelm. Kaschmir – Knotenpunkt indisch-pakistanischer Konfliktlinien. (Kashmir – junction of Indian-Pakistani lines of conflict), loc. cit., p. 1099.
    Since 1980, the Afghanistan conflict has been in existance, and it has benefited not only Pakistan‘s cohesion, but also its international position, its state budget, as well as the corrupt politicians and military.
19.    The separatists in Rajasthan and Punjab, who have themselves been using terror for years to achieve secession, are only waiting for such an opportunity.
20    cf. Kampf um Kaschmir (fight for Kashmir) in: Süddeutsche Zeitung from 19 February 2019, p. 9; Fähnders, Till. Stundenlanges Feuergefecht (Hour-long firefight) in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from 19 February 2019, p. 5; Fähnders, Till; Meier, Christian. Vom Kaltstart zum Erstschlag? (From cold start to first strike?) In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from 8 March 2019, p. 8
21    Kampf um Kaschmir (Battle for Kashmir), loc.cit.
22    cf. Fähnders, Till. Stundenlanges Feuergefecht (Hour-long firefight), Kampf um Kaschmir (Battle for Kashmir), loc.cit.
23    cf. Matern, Tobias. Attacks of two old foes. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung from 27 February 2019, p. 7
24    Matthay, Sabina. Indien-Pakistan Konflikt (India-Pakistani-Conflict). In: Deutschlandfunk, Cologne, 2 March 2019
25    cf. Perras, Arne. Zynische Kalkulation (Cynical Calculation). In: Süddeutsche Zeitung from 22 February 2019, p. 7
26    Matthay, Sabina. Indien-Pakistan Konflikt (India-Pakistani-Conflict), loc.cit.
27    comp. Indien wächst langsamer und verspricht Wohltaten (India grows slower and promises benefactions), in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from 1 March 2019, p. 19
28    Matthay, Sabina. Indien-Pakistan Konflicht (India-Pakistani-Conflict), loc.cit.
29    ibid.
30    ibid.
31    Krüger, Paul-Anton. Friedensgeste aus Islamabad (Peace sign from Islamabad). In: Süddeutsche Zeitung from 1 March 2019, p. 7
32    Perras, Arne. Roter Stempel gegen den Terror (Red stamp against terror). In: Süddeutsche Zeitung from 7 March 2019, p. 7
33    ibid.
34    ibid.
35    comp. Kokoschin, Andrej. Russland muss eine führende rolle spielen (Russia has to take the lead). In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from 8 August 2000, p. 14 Duran, Khalid. Alarmstufe Rot (Red Alert). In: Die Woche, Hamburg, 14 January 2000, p. 27
36    Fähnders, Till; Meier, Christian. Vom Kaltstart zum Erstschlag (From cold start to first strike)? loc.cit.
37    ibid.
38    comp. ibid.
39    On 20 June 2001, he swore himself in as Pakistan’s president.
40    comp. Indien lädt zum Dialog (India invites to dialogue). In: TAZ from 25 May 2001, p. 9; Adam, Werner. Armut ist der wirkliche Feind (Poverty is the real enemy). In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from 28 May 2001, p. 16

On the current situation in Kashmir

mb. The Indian government has suspended the special rights of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. On 5 August, Amit Shah, Interior Minister of the right-wing conservative nationalist governing party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), announced in parliament that Constitutional Article 370, which regulates the status of the Indian part of the Himalayan region, has been abolished. This article gave the central government in New Delhi sovereignty over foreign policy and defence, but guaranteed Kashmir its own constitution and a wide-ranging autonomy. This protected, for example, the exclusive rights of Kashmiris to landed property. These special rights have now been abolished that settlers from other regions of India can now buy land there as well. Many Kashmiris see this as a first step to change the ethnographic conditions in the state in favour of a Hindu majority. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi even calls on the People’s Republic of China to return Aksai Chin.
To keep the situation under control, the central government in New Delhi had already placed the political leadership of the province, including the two former prime ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, under house arrest on 4 August and blocked all communication channels to and from Kashmir. Kashmir is the only Indian state with a Muslim majority, and its special status stands in the way of BJP’s vision of a Hindu India. “The governing party BJP thinks it will ‘Indianize’ Kashmir. But instead we will probably see the ‘Kashmirization’ of India,” the “Indian Express” on 6 August points out. Local observers warn of a terrible escalation of violence. Narendra Modi should be aware that the abolition of autonomy will indeed destabilise the entire region in and around Kashmir. That is why he has stationed 8,000 additional soldiers in Kashmir, which is already one of the most militarised areas in the world with a troop strength of 500,000.
These measures from New Delhi are a point of attack for the radicals in Kashmir as well as in Pakistan to intensify the armed struggle with the support of the government and the Islamabad secret service. In addition, they further aggravate tensions between India and Pakistan. Is India really looking for a final decision on the status of Kashmir? That would be highly dangerous. After all, Pakistan and India are two nuclear weapon states facing each other. The Pakistani government has expelled the Indian ambassador from the country, but has announced that it intends to resolve the conflict not militarily but diplomatically. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked US President Donald Trump for mediation. The US President had expressed his willingness to act as a mediator between India and Pakistan in settling the situation around the disputed region. This was reported by the news agency Reuters on 22 July. The situation has deteriorated. “This has the potential to turn into a regional crisis,” Imran Khan wrote on Twitter on 4 August.1 It remains to be seen whether Mr Trump is the appropriate person to mediate in this matter.
For the first time since 1972, the UN Security Council discusses the Kashmir conflict. China’s UN ambassador requested a Security Council meeting after Pakistan asked the UN body for a meeting. The Chinese government blamed India for the newly flared tensions in the Kashmir region and clearly criticised the government in New Delhi. “What should be emphasised is that India’s actions have also queried China’s sovereignty and violated a bilateral agreement,2 said Chinese UN Ambassador Zhang Jun on 16 August after a UN Security Council meeting in New York which took place behind closed doors. Such unilateral actions by India are not eligible, Zhang Jun continued. Peace and stability in the border region are at risk, and China is “seriously concerned” about the development. Especially Pakistan and India should find a joint peaceful agreement on their tensions.
In the Indian part of the disputed Kashmir region, hundreds of demonstrators clashed with the police on 16 August. Pakistan’s head of government, Imran Khan, talked to US President Donald Trump about the situation in the region. It was a “good conversation”, and both had decided to “stay in permanent contact”3 said Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
According to information from Islamabad, another Pakistani soldier has been killed in Kashmir. On 16 August, the Pakistani army announced that the military personnel has been killed by shelling from the Indian side across the so-called control line. The press agencies AFP and dpa reported consistently that three Pakistani soldiers and two civilians has been killed by Indian units already the day before.

1     “Trump soll vermitteln (Trump should mediate)“, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from 5 August, p.5
2    “China gibt Indien die Schuld an Spannungen (China blames India for tensions)”, in: Der Tagesspiegel from 16 August: https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/konfliktregion-im-himalaya-indien-hebt-sonderstatus-von-kaschmir-auf/24871186.html.
3    Ibid.

(Translation Current Concerns)

Proposals for a political solution to the conflict

by Matin Baraki

Primarily, all parties to the conflict must consent for negotiations without preconditions. The agenda should include the following items:

  1. The complete demilitarisation of all Kashmir, i.e. the part occupied by the People’s Republic of China and Pakistan and the part ruled by India but claimed by Pakistan, as a precondition for a possible solution to the conflict.
  2. It needs a guarantee that all parties show absolute restraint with regard to Kashmir and make no further attempts to change the situation in Kashmir to their advantage.
  3. Confidence-building measures such as prisoner-exchanges, facilitation of travel (e.g. visa waiver) for all Kashmiris, economic, cultural and scientific cooperation, joint radio and television broadcasting, etc. should be agreed and implemented. The solution of the enormous social problems caused not least by the conflict also need to be undertaken seriously as a matter of urgency.
        Further negotiations should focus on the reunification of the separate parts of Kashmir, including the return of the territory occupied by the People’s Republic of China, and the agreement of autonomy for all Kashmir, initially within the framework of the constitution of the Republic of India. In the end, a referendum under international supervision on Kashmir’s self-determination should proceed within a reasonable length of time. A referendum at the beginning of this whole process in a climate poisoned by Islamic fundamentalists for years would, on the other hand, most likely result in the separation of Kashmir from India under the leadership of these Islamists, undoubtedly with heavy dependence on Pakistan. This would by no means contribute to peace in Kashmir and on the Indian subcontinent. On the contrary, Pakistan would find itself in a position of strength vis-à-vis India, which would entail dangers and make a possible durable solution to the conflict more difficult. Therefore, such premature measures must be urgently discouraged.
  4. Although it may seem unrealistic right now, the outcome of the confidence-building measures should be a long-term move towards a union between Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Because all three countries have, at least since the Mogul rule, a common history, culture and in part, also religion. Such a union could solve both the Afghan-Pakistan border dispute in the tribal area (Duran Treaty) and the Kashmir conflict in one fell swoop and stabilise the region for a longer length of time.

The best mediators in a negotiation scenario, presented in points 1 to 3, would be, in my opinion, the Non-Aligned States and the Conference of Islamic States, which were acceptable by both sides as relatively neutral actors.
The call of the Kashmiri peoples for peace is unmistakable. Their joy at the renewed de facto opening of the border between India and Pakistan on 21 October 2008 was overwhelming. Now is the time, to finally meet this desire.
(Translation Current Concerns)

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