The present conflict between
India and Pakistan revolves around the territory called Kashmir, which is located to the north of both countries . Both India and Pakistan say Kashmir is a part of their territory.
Kashmir was one of many princely states in India. Under the Partition Plan in 1947, these states were free to join either India or Pakistan. The ruler of Kashmir, the Maharaja, was Hindu while the majority of the population was, and still remains, Muslims. The Maharaja had three choices - join with India, join with Pakistan or remain independent. In the end, he agreed to make Kashmir a part of India.
This event is much in dispute. Pakistan argues that the Maharaja was forced by India to sign over Kashmir to them while India maintains that this was not the case. Pakistan also argues that the people of Kashmir (Kashmiris) were never given a chance to decide their future as the Maharaja never consulted with them . Since Muslims make up the majority of the population, Pakistan claims that Kashmir should be a part of Pakistan.
It should be pointed out that in accepting Kashmir as a part of India, the Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten, made it clear that this decision would be made final only when the people of Kashmir vote in a plebiscite or referendum on the matter. India accepted this position but has never allowed such referendum to take place. The United nations passed three resolutions calling for a plebiscite to be held but India ignored such calls. Many believe that India refuses to hold a plebiscite for fear that the majority of Kashmiris would vote to join Pakistan. Since then, India and Pakistan have gone to war twice over Kashmir, the first in 1947-8, and again in 1965. Over the years, sporadic clashes have taken place between the two sides.
Following the first war, a cease-fire was declared and a Line of Control (COL) was drawn separating the two sides. The LOC left two thirds of Kashmir under Indian control and the remaining one-third under Pakistani control. The Indian-controlled part of Kashmir is called Jammu and Kashmir with a population of about 9 million people. The Pakistani-controlled sector is called Azad or Free Kashmir.
The LOC which divides Kashmir passes through some very mountainous areas as high as 5000 meters. It is interesting to note that the conditions in these areas are so extreme that the bitter cold has taken more lives than the sporadic clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops.
The Violence in Kashmir Today - Who is Responsible?
Since the 1980's, a rebellion has broken out in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir against Indian rule. Pakistan argues that the rebellion is homegrown i.e. the Muslim majority there are fighting to overthrow the oppressive Indian rule. India, on the other hand, argues that the rebellion is not homegrown but one that is deliberately organized, supported and finance by the government of Pakistan with the intention of driving India out of Kashmir and taking the land for itself.
Who is Right?
There is no easy answer since there are many groups fighting in Kashmir. Some groups are fighting for independence for Kashmir. These people, including many Muslims, do not want to side with either India or Pakistan. They want the establishing of a genuine independent state of Kashmir, free of both Indian and Pakistani control. Of course, neither Pakistan nor India supports this option.
However, according to many experts familiar with the conflict, what started out as an indigenous rebellion has now been taken over by extremist Muslim or Islamic militants with the support of Pakistan. It is believed that there are thousands such militants fighting India in Kashmir. Some experts point to the close relations which exists between these groups and Pakistan's military and intelligence forces. India accused Pakistan of allowing fighters to cross over into India-controlled Kashmir and attacked its forces there. India blamed the Kashmiri militants for the attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi last December, killing twelve people.
India is demanding an end to Pakistan's support for these militant groups and to prevent them from crossing the Line of Control. However, Pakistan continues to deny that it is supporting the militants. President Bush seems to support the Indian position on Kashmir and has called upon the President of Pakistan, General Musharraf, to stop the infiltration of Islamic militants into Kashmir. Over a million Indian and Pakistani troops now face each on the border ready to do battle over Kashmir. India, a much larger country, is far superior to Pakistan in military strength. To compensate for this, Pakistan says, if necessary, it will use nuclear weapons- the world's greatest nightmare. India, on the other hand, said if Pakistan uses such weapons, it will completely obliterate that country.
India and Pakistan: The Conflict over Kashmir
What does the present conflict between India and Pakistan revolve around? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What religious group is in the majority in Kashmir? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Why is Kashmir part of India and not Pakistan? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What did Lord Mountbatten point out when he accepted Kashmir as part of India? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What position has the UN taken on the conflict over Kashmir? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What position has India taken on the question of Kashmir? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
How many times has India and Pakistan gone to war over Kashmir? Dates? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What is the LOC and what effect did it have on Kashmir? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What has caused the violence in Kashmir today? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Who does India say is responsible for the violence? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
How many troops are massed along the Kashmir border? _______________________________
What country has the largest military? ______________________________________________
What weapon has Pakistan threatened to use if their forces are overwhelmed by India? _____________________________________________________________________________
What has India threatened to do in retaliation? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________