March 2016Focus2016

Focus on Territorial Disputes: Jammu and Kashmir

By Jack La Forge
Staff Writer

While tensions have cooled in many other regions of the Pakistan-India border, the hotly contested province of Kashmir and Jammu is still experiencing ongoing conflict. The harsh terrain, threats of nuclear warfare, terrorist attacks, and state interests are among some of the reasons that have been preventing a land settlement.

Persistent unrest and violence has characterized the region since Colonial India gained its independence from the British in 1947. At that time, an agreement was struck to divide the Muslim majority of Pakistan and the Hindu majority of India into two separate states. Amid the partition of states and relocation of tens of millions of people, approximately one million people were murdered as a result of religious violence, according to BBC News.

The Kashmir Valley is a predominantly Muslim region where, according to a poll conducted by Chatham House, 74 to 95 percent of people support independence from India. In the predominantly Hindu region of Jammu, however, less than 1 percent of Jammu people supported independence, according to another Chatham House poll.

Government interest precludes any plans for settlement that includes an independent Kashmir Valley.

Pakistan has said that they should get the territory due to Kashmir’s Muslim majority. India has said that Kashmir is an integral part of its country, and the harsh terrain that must be passed to enter the Kashmir Valley is more accessible from Jammu, located in India, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

The height of recent violence between Pakistan and India occurred in 2008, where a group of insurgents from a terrorist group in Pakistan stormed buildings in Mumbai, held them for more than 60 hours, and killed 164 people, as reported by CNN.

Since these attacks, anti-Pakistan movements grew in India. According to Vice Media, Pakistan’s response to this is to sneak insurgents trained by the Pakistani Army with the intent of destabilizing the region even more.

The Pakistani insurgents enter India with relative ease because harsh terrain makes the region nearly impossible to police. The border between the province of Jammu, Kashmir, and Pakistan is not actually a border, but rather a temporary agreement between the two states called a “Line of Control.”

Both India and Pakistan continue to bolster their nuclear arsenal amid palpable tension. A Pakistani nuclear physicist recently said in an interview with Vice Media that “If one warhead had been used on the other country, then you can bet that all nuclear warheads will be used.”

When you contend that there is no clear border nor explicit defense of a border, there has been a surprise attack on one of India’s biggest cities, there are moral and religious disagreement between two very different groups of people since the birth of both nations, and that both countries have nuclear capabilities, you have an absolutely potent recipe for war.

The United Nations Security Council has proven complacent in regards to resolving this issue. For example, according to the Express Tribune, the U.N. removed Jammu and Kashmir from the list of disputed world territories in November 2010.

This removal has worked out favorably for India more than Pakistan, and Pakistan’s envoy to the U.N. protests this decision. According to the Daily Times, a U.N. spokesman gave a public reassurance that the Kashmir dispute still remains on the U.N. Security Council’s agenda.

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