For six decades, Kashmir has been the source of animosity between the two south Asian powers of Pakistan and India; for six decades, it has harbored terrorists, rebels, and murderers. In a clash that finds its origin from the British partition of the Indian subcontinent, the conflict in Kashmir has evolved into a multifaceted issue revolving around religious, social, and political ties. As each year brings with it more conflict and subsequently more deaths of innocent civilians, it is imperative for the international community to unite to establish a realistic and manageable plan towards peace between the two conflicting nations.
The original partition of the Indian subcontinent was based on religious affiliation, and while most states could be separated between Islamic and Hindu, Kashmir could not. With a Hindu Maharajah but a predominately Muslim population, Kashmir came under Indian control (“Kashmir Conflict” 1). Angered by this decision, Pakistan sent troops which were then countered by Indian soldiers. Converging at the border now known as the Line of Control, the two nations control their particular sections of Kashmir, and the 1972 Simla Agreement established that neither of them will unilaterally alter the Line of Control and they will try to settle the dispute through bilateral negotiations or other peaceful methods (“Jammu and Kashmir” 1).
Despite this movement towards peace, violence rampages on, with minor skirmishes along the border, further influxes of Islamic militants, and the addition of nuclear weapons into the equation. By 1998, both Pakistan and India, against the suggestions of the international community, armed themselves with nuclear weapons. Yet not only are the Pakistani and Indian militaries involved, but Kashmiri militants are fighting as well, resulting in widespread terrorism. December 2001 saw the terrorist bombing of the Indian Parliament, resulting in nine fatalities and the closest Pakistan and India have ever come to full-out war (“The Conflict in Kashmir” 1).
Even as Kashmir is being pulled along both fronts, the nations of Pakistan and India are facing equally difficult challenges in their own political infrastructures. Terrorism lies at the core in each situation. Pakistani and Kashmiri militants occasionally attempt to destabilize the government through gunmen or suicide bombers, as evidenced by the December 2001 attack. Yet in Pakistan, terrorism dominates Pakistani politics. October 18, 2007 brought the return of former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, to Pakistan to resume an executive position. Her homecoming was coupled with an attack by the Pakistani Taliban, leaving over one hundred forty deaths, and many others wounded (Green 1).
Even though the international community believed the two nations reached a stalemate in 2001, Pakistan and India have made surprising progress towards a resolution of the conflict in Kashmir. As recently as 2006, Pakistani President Musharraf has stated that he is willing to look into altering Pakistan’s policy towards Kashmir (Zissis 1). The Line of Control has also been penetrated with the openings of the rail links and foot paths (“India, Pakistan Discuss Rail Link” 1). Even as the politics of the region continue to deteriorate, the United States commends the leaders of both Pakistan and India for their persistence in garnering peace in Kashmir.
The victim and main combatant of terrorism, the United States finds Pakistan and India to be indispensable allies in its hunt for Al Qaeda operatives hiding in Afghanistan and the surrounding mountain ranges. Nicholas Burns, the U.S. State Department’s under secretary of state for political affairs stated in a congressional panel that ““Pakistan right now is one of our closest partners globally. It is without any question our most indispensable partner in the fight against al-Qaida and the other Islamic terrorist groups in South Asia” (Green 1). India, another crucial ally, has also “volunteered to help the American casue by offering military bases and sharing intelligence” (Hastedt 226). As a developing economic center, the United States believes that the Indian subcontinent can not come to its potential without first stopping the spread of terrorism across South Asia. By joining together Pakistan and India in the fight against militants terrorizing Kashmir and the government offices affiliated with it, the conflict in Kashmir can gradually diminish and international security can be assured.
In an area that has been bombarded with violence for so long, the United States finds that diplomacy is the only viable solution to the conflict in Kashmir. Acknowledging the fact that decades of fighting and resentment are difficult to amend, the United States realizes that peace can not be attained in a timely manner. Instead, the road to peace will be long, and at each bend, ties between Pakistan and India must gradually be restored. In order to achieve this, the overall process must be done in a measured but ongoing process.
The United States is of the opinion that the most crucial factor in the peace process is the preservation of the cease-fire established in 2003. As per Resolution 307 passed in 1971 which “demands that a durable cease-fire… be strictly observed,” the cease-fire must be protected at the risk of nuclear warfare (“Security Council resolution 307 (1971) of 21 December 1971” 1). Since roughly thirty percent of Indian and Pakistani exports are to P5 member-states, the United States believes that economic sanctions are the prime solution. Security Council Resolution 209 “calls upon the Governments of India and Pakistan to take forthwith all steps for an immediate cease-fire,” therefore, if Pakistan or India breaks the cease-fire without any probably or justifiable cause, the offending nation will be subject to strict economic sanctions (“Security Council resolution 209 (1965) of 6 September 1965” 1). These sanctions will include developmental assistance, the sale of military material and dual use technologies, the financing of military programs, and the blocking of access to loans and credits from the export-import bank and the overseas private investment corporation. All economic aid, except for humanitarian aid such as food, would henceforth be banned (Hastedt 226). The United States issued similar policies in both 1965 and 1971 as per the Glenn Amendment to great effect (Hastedt 225). If both Pakistan and India choose to encourage the fighting in Kashmir, they can be subjected to an arms embargo, as previously witnessed in 1965.
The United States requests all member-states to reference section two of Security Council Resolution 307 to “refrain from any action which may aggravate the situation in the subcontinent or endanger international peace” (“Security Council resolution 307 (1971) of 21 December 1971” 1). If the situation in Kashmir escalates to nuclear warfare, the safety of the international community is comprised. Recently, relations between Pakistan and India have never been progressing so satisfactorily, and this must be maximized with the encouragement of continuous peace, stability, and security talks (Tighe 1). Through bilateral and multilateral talks, Pakistan and India have made significant strides in a positive direction towards peace, especially in the establishment of the anti-terrorism panel. Therefore, the United States is calling for the Security Council in conjunction with the UNMOGIP to encourage the success of the anti-terrorism panel. Terrorism on both planes lies at the core of this issue and until it is terminated, violence will continue to erupt along the Line of Control. As soon as instances of terrorism fade, India and Pakistan can be encouraged to follow through with previous agreements to lessen the amount of troops stationed in their apportioned sections of Kashmir.
While the United States recognizes that the Line of Control must remain intact, the United States also recognizes the importance of permanently establishing and protecting the five cross points and bus line through the line (“India and Pakistan Agree to Open Second Rail Link”). The originally impermeable status of the Line of Control must be gradually dissolved as it obstructs the integration of Kashmiri society and the overall peace process. While both Pakistan and India can continue to govern their respective regions, the Kashmiris occupying them should not be restricted to them.
The protection of Kashmiri society is another integral pillar of the peace process. Kashmiris must be just as involved as the ambassadors of Pakistan and India in the peace process. According to Ghulam Nabi Fai, a representative of the Kashmiri-American Council, a “Kashmir solution not based on the consensus of the 14 million people of Kashmir is doomed to shipwreck soon after launch. With the people’s participation, anything is possible: without it, nothing” (Hasan 1). Although the United States recognizes the impracticality of a plebiscite for Kashmir, the United States is of the firm belief that Kashmiri opinion must be factored into decisions. Referendums on specific issues being determined can be passed if monitored by UNMOGIP officials. In this manner, a fair and unbiased survey can be garnered.
Similarly, the normalization of Kashmiri society is another necessity. Simple cultural or pleasurable activities and venues, such as cinemas, have long been impeded by the constant turmoil. The United States would like to encourage culture-based NGOs and fellow member-states to assist Pakistan and India in revitalizing Kashmir tourism. By securing conditions, reducing troops, and restraining militant activity, industries such as the multi-billion dollar Bollywood entertainment industry, can bring back to Kashmir, once a leading set for Bollywood cinema, enough revenue to sustain it economically. Switzerland, Bollwood’s scenic replacement for Kashmir, has on average eighty thousand tourists from India alone visiting the “sets” (O’Connor 1). If focus were diverted back to Kashmir, this same influx of tourism could further the integration of Kashmiri society and assist greatly in the overall peace process.
The lack of security stemming from the conflict in Kashmiri is a far reaching matter that has magnified itself into an issue of critical international concern. With two nuclear powers at constant ends, it is imperative for the international community to come together to aid in the restoration of peace and stability and the termination of South Asian terrorism. By encouraging peace talks, combating terrorism, and protecting Kashmiri rights, the United Nations may one day see the conclusion of the conflict in Kashmir.
Works Consulted Bose, Sumantra. “The Conflict in Kashmir.” The London School of Politics and
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Account.” The London School of Politics and Economic Science. Online.
Internet. < http://www.fathom.com/course/10701013/session3.html> Cohen, Stephen P. “Current South Asia Policy Initiatives in the Bush Administration.”
Brookings. Online. Internet. Cohen, Stephen P. “Opening the Door to Peace in South Asia.” Brookings. Online.
Internet. < http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2007/1008pakistan.aspx> “Ethnic Cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits.” Kashmir Information Network. Online. Internet.
Green, Eric. “Pakistan “Indispensable” in Global Anti-Terrorism Fight.” USINFO.
Online. Internet. < http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2007&m=July&x=200707251316071xeneerg0.9171869> 25 July