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India Pakistan Kashmir Dispute – Has India accepted 3rd Party Mediation on Kashmir? MEA visit to UAE

India Pakistan Kashmir Dispute – Has India accepted 3rd Party Mediation on Kashmir? MEA visit to UAE

Relevance:

  • GS 2 || International Relations || India and its neighbourhood || Pakistan

Why in the news?

The Minister of External Affairs visit to UAE overlapped with that of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister. The meetings came amidst strong speculation that the Gulf country was mediating to restart dialogue between India and Pakistan.

India-Pakistan Kashmir dispute: background

  • Kashmir is an ethnically diverse Himalayan state famed for the beauty of its lakes, meadows and snow-capped mountains.
  • Under the partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act, Kashmir was free to accede to either India or Pakistan.
  • The Maharaja of Kashmir- Hari Singh, initially wanted Kashmir to become independent – but in October 1947 chose to join India, in return for its help against an invasion of tribesmen from Pakistan.
  • A war erupted and India approached the United Nations asking it to intervene.
  • The United Nations recommended holding a plebiscite to settle the question of whether the state would join India or Pakistan.
  • However the two countries could not agree to a deal to demilitarise the region before the referendum could be held.
  • In July 1949, India and Pakistan signed an agreement to establish a ceasefire line as recommended by the UN and the region became divided.
  • A second war followed in 1965. Then in 1999, India fought a brief but bitter conflict with Pakistani-backed forces.
  • Today, India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir in full, but control only parts of it – territories recognised internationally as “Indian-administered Kashmir” and “Pakistan-administered Kashmir”.

 

Significance of Kashmir:

The primary reason for this conflict between the two nations is due to how valuable Kashmir is in terms of national security, geography and resources.

  • Water Resources: The region has abundant water resources. At least three important tributaries of the Indus River flows through the State.
    • The Indus River is extremely crucial to agriculture in Pakistan. It is especially important in the lower Indus valley region, where rainfall is uncommon. Similarly, India depends on the Indus for irrigation.
    • Hence, the Indus and its tributaries are highly sought after.
  • Geopolitical significance: Kashmir serves as a bridge between South Asia and Central Asia.
    • For India, it is the only direct route to Central Asia and through Central Asia to Europe.
    • For Pakistan and China, it plays a key role in the Belt and Road initiative. More importantly, it is key for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  • Geo-political rivalry: Kashmir is a central piece between three nuclear nations: India, Pakistan and China.
    • At the moment, of the original territory of Kashmir, India has control over roughly 55% of the total area, Pakistan controls 30% of the land and China controls 15% of it.
    • It is also extremely important to India’s national security. The Siachen Glacier is the only barrier between Pakistan and China.
    • In the face of a conflict, without Kashmir, China and Pakistan could combine forces, gravely endangering India. With India’s straining relationships with both China and Pakistan, it has become wary of this.

Kashmir from Kashmiris’ viewpoints:

  • The Kashmiri perspective is one that has been largely ignored.
  • This conflict is one that has stemmed due to the fact that there are those that believe Maharaja Hari Singh ceding Kashmir to India was unlawful as he did not represent the majority.
  • After the partition of India and Pakistan, Kashmir signed a standstill agreement with both the nations while they decided their fate.
  • However, with the Pakistani tribesmen attacking India, Abdullah, as a representative to the Maharaja, went to India and sought its help, leading to Kashmir being ceded to India.
  • Before the invasion, the situation in Kashmir was ambivalent. There were many who willed for Kashmir’s independence. However, there were also those who wished to go to either India or Pakistan.
  • Later on, in 1953, Abdullah was arrested for trying to create an independent Kashmir and having clandestine meetings with foreign powers.
  • In 1954, the Kashmiri Constituent Assembly ratified Kashmir’s accession to India.
  • Beginning in 1980, there was a rapid Islamisation of Kashmir. Names of cities were changed and propaganda was spread.
  • Those of other religions were denounced as ‘spies’ or ‘outsiders.’ There is evidence suggesting nations like Saudi Arabia influenced and aided this spread. This was the beginning of the violence in the region.
  • The first large-scale act of violence was the exodus of the Kashmiri Hindus.
  • Thousands of Kashmiri Hindus were killed and forced to flee by Muslim mobs and Hindu temples were destroyed.
  • Since then, the violence and bloodshed in this region have only continued. Insurgent groups, terrorist organisations, Pakistani forces and Indian forces have constantly found themselves in conflict, leading to the deaths of thousands.
  • As a result, there has been a significant increase in the number of military personnel and equipment in the region.

Current developments:

  • Prior to 2019, Indian-administered Kashmir has held a special position within the country under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
  • It included significant autonomy for the State including its own constitution, a separate flag, and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defence and communications.
  • However, in August, 2019 Article 370 was made inoperative by the Parliament of India through a Presidential order.
  • India made the State of Jammu and Kashmir a Union Territory (UT) with legislature.

Pakistan’s response:

  • Pakistan fiercely condemned the development, branding it “illegal” and vowing to exercise all possible options against it.
  • It also downgraded diplomatic ties with India and suspended all trade. India responded by saying they “regretted” Pakistan’s statement and reiterating that Article 370 was an internal matter as it did not interfere with the boundaries of the territory.
  • Earlier, India and Pakistan had agreed upon a ceasefire in 2003 after years of bloodshed along the Line of Control (LoC)
  • Pakistan also promised to stop funding insurgents in the territory, while India offered them an amnesty if they renounced militancy.

International response:

  • The international response to India’s move to change the status quo of Jammu and Kashmir was largely favourable to India.
  • Many nations expressed their support and remarked that this was a situation of India dealing with its internal matters.
  • A few Muslim countries such as Turkey and Indonesia however raised concerns over the move.

Way forward:

  • Both India and Pakistan strongly believe that Kashmir rightfully belongs to them. Kashmir is also incredibly valuable to both nations.
  • It is hard to imagine that either country would willingly surrender Kashmir. It is certain that thousands of Kashmiris and soldiers have faced and continue to face atrocities. There are also reports of human rights violations in the region.
  • Of late, India has gained a lot of international support as well. Rapidly growing as an economy and as a military power, India has become a desirable ally and trade partner for many.
  • Pakistan on the other hand was under scrutiny. Multiple nations have called for Pakistan to withdraw its support of terrorist activities and funding terrorist organisations. Pakistan certainly faces the brunt of international scrutiny in this matter.

Model Mains Question:

  1. Critically discuss the role of ‘Jammu and Kashmir dispute’ in aggravating the bilateral relations between India and Pakistan.