This story of Kashmir is about the Pakistani lies woven around “Azaadi” and “Plebiscite”, and it started with the decision of implementing two nation theory, which meant division of British India into Muslim majority Pakistan and Union of India.
The map, shown above, is of British India with all the princely states shown in pink-
As per the Indian Independence Act of 1947, British India would be divided into two sovereign countries, India and Pakistan. Each country will have a Governor General representing the Queen, and the complete legislative authority will be upon the constituent assemblies of each respective country. Provinces of Punjab and Bengal shall be split between the two countries, and the princely states shall have the right of accession to either dominion. Only the region of North-West-Frontier-Province (Pakhtunkhwa) and district of Sylhet (Assam), will decide its fate through referendum.
Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, one of the largest princely states, decided to stay independent. Mohammad Ali Jinnah tried to persuade Maharaja Hari Singh and when he seemed to fail, the Muslim league leaders started creating a Muslim revolt against Maharaja. Pakistan even started obstructing the supplies of basic commodities to Kashmir. Later Abdul Qayyum Khan spearheaded Kashmir insurgency by sending Pathan tribesmen into Kashmir, a plan devised by the then Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan.
What followed in next few days was violence and bloodshed. Maharaja Hari Singh’s troop was clearly outnumbered couldn’t stand a chance against the Pakistani insurgent army, and he turned to India for help against this marauding army. October 26th, 1947, Maharaja signed the instrument of accession and on 27th October India airlifted its forces to Srinagar. Gilgit did not accept the States accession to India, and they revolted. They formed their own provisional government. May 1948, Pakistani army entered Kashmir under the pretext of defending their borders. This was the first war of Kashmir.
Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India met Liaquat Ali Khan and expressed his intention of calling for United Nations intervention under article 35 of UN charter, to end this conflict. On April 21st, 1948, UNSC passed the Kashmir Resolution 47.
UNSC Resolution 47 laid down three basic steps towards solution of Kashmir crisis.
1- Pakistan has to withdraw all its troops from the State, including the Pashtun insurgents. Here “State” includes Jammu, Kashmir, POK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Ladakh.
2- India will take control of the entire area. India too shall withdraw its troops leaving behind only what is needed for security purposes
All these three steps are to be followed one after another. Unless step one is fulfilled there can never be step two or three. Pakistan never fulfilled step 1, of withdrawing its troops and vacating its occupied territory of Kashmir. Hence the conditions leading to plebiscite remain unfulfilled.
Now let’s look at the reasons why this “Plebiscite” can never ever happen, and the two major reasons are-
- Pakistan ceded a part of Kashmir, the Sakshgham valley of POK, to China and separated Gilgit-Baltistan from POK.
- China has invested heavily in Gilgit-Baltistan, with dam construction to telecom development, mining and port management. CPEC includes highways and rail connectivity between Xinjiang and port cities of Karachi and Gwadar.
As per step 1 to move towards plebiscite, Pakistan has to vacate Gilgit-Baltistan too, and giving up Gilgit-Baltistan even if it’s temporary, isn’t feasible because it means Pakistan and China will no longer share any border between them. Refer the map below.
Pakistan can keep raising this issue of plebiscite but fact remains that it never fulfilled the pre-requisite conditions for the plebiscite, and today with China involved in this game, even Pakistan knows “Kashmir plebiscite” is just a myth that it uses to keep the Pakistanis emotionally pumped up. Whenever this topic comes, the usual question is “If not Plebiscite or Azadi, then what? Why is Kashmir burning?”
To understand Pakistan’s interest in Kashmir, two basic points that needs to be discussed are- What exactly is this Kashmir conflict, and what does Pakistan want from Kashmir?
“What is this Kashmir conflict”- has been discussed quite extensively many times, and everyone knows it’s a territorial conflict between India and Pakistan, which started little before India’s partition and took mammoth shape 1947 onwards. Today India controls around 43% of the province and Pakistan controls 37%, while Aksai Chin is under Chinese administration.
There have been three wars over this “Jugular vein” called Kashmir. Pakistan has always raised the issue of plebiscite saying, India has been illegally occupying Kashmir. Whereas India’s claim on Kashmir comes from the fact that the then Maharaja of Kashmir had signed the Instrument of accession which has its legal standing.
It is often said that the main reason behind this ongoing feud is “Water”. All the major rivers or water sources of Pakistan, Jhelum, Chenab and Ravi, originate in Kashmir, and Pakistan wants a control over that; reason why they keep referring to Kashmir as Pakistan’s jugular vein.
Note: All images are for illustrative purposes only, no copyright infringement intended.
But if this conflict is about water then why did we have the war of 1965 when in 1961 both the countries had already signed the Indus Water Treaty? Pakistan believes that if and when there will be a crisis, India will block the water to Pakistan and create a drought like situation, or it can be the opposite- open excess water and cause flood. Pakistan being an agrarian society depends hugely on water from these rivers.
Another reason why Pakistan would like to get control over Kashmir, is to get a wider access to China, which is important for trade. Presently China-Pak trade depends on the treacherous and inhospitable Karakoram Highway, and once CPEC or the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is complete it will make Kashmir strategically even more important. Pakistan would never want India in close proximity to this corridor. Controlling Kashmir will not only keep India at a much farther distance from CPEC but also shall make Pakistan’s access to Central Asia much easier.
Besides all these points which I have put forth, the one major reason behind Kashmir burning endlessly and Pakistan’s interest, is “Religion” in my opinion. I have always believed that behind all the sloganeering about Kashmir’s “Azaadi” is the Islamist ideology of Pakistan. Pakistan’s support for Kashmiri Separatists instigating violence is not about winning or losing, it’s about an attempt to keep India bleeding as long as they can.
For Pakistan it was never about “pro-Azad Kashmir”, it was always about “anti-India”. Kashmir has become the precious candy that Pakistan keeps putting in the mouth of its citizens so that they stop questioning successive Pakistani Governments about their failure. It is also an important election issue because of the kind of emotions it flares up. Even on this side of Kashmir, as long as Kashmir burns it provides political parties and separatists’ fuel to survive. As someone had said “War is the most profitable business”, the same thing is true about terrorism too. Solving Kashmir issue would mean losing the goose that lays golden eggs for Pakistan.
Even at the risk of being labelled a pessimist, I will say so, I do not see Kashmir issue coming to a logical conclusion for many more years.