Kashmir Solidarity Day | History of Kashmir Issue and Pakistan-India Conflict

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Kashmiris struggle for Independence against Indian Occupation. Photo Gulf News

Research: Muhammad Sajjad Munir

Kashmir Solidarity Day or Kashmir Day, is a national holiday in Pakistan on 5 February each year. It is in observance of Pakistan’s support of and unity with the people of Indian illegally occupied Kashmir, the separatists’ efforts to secede from India, and to pay homage to the Kashmiris who have died in the conflict. Solidarity rallies are held in Pakistan-administered Azad Kashmir and by some members of the Mirpuri diaspora.

Kashmir Day was first proposed by Qazi Hussain Ahmad of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in Pakistan in 1990. In 1991, the then-Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif called for a “Kashmir Solidarity Day Strike”. Sharif had come to power with the help of Jamaat the previous year. The 1991 event was also a Jamaat affair.

Kashmir Issue and Pakistan-India Conflict

The territory of Jammu and Kashmir is located in the northwest area of SouthAsia and shares boundaries with India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China.It has an area of 85,806 square miles, which is separated by a line of control mutually agreed by Pakistan and India in 1972. An area of 46,916 square miles, in the North and West, is under Pakistan control while remaining area of 38,829 square miles is under the Indian Control.

Quid-e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah with Lord Mount Baton and Jawahar Lal Nehru

As per 1941 census, the total population of the state of Jammu and Kashmir was 4,021,616. 77 percent of this populace were Muslims, 20 percent were Hindus, 3 percent Sikhs and others while the 1981 Indian census showed the total population of the Indian controlled Kashmir was 5,987,389. It comprises of 64.2 percent Muslims. 32.25 percent Hindus, 2.23 percent Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and Jains.

Rinchan, a Budhist ruler of Kashmir embraced Islam in 1320.18 The Muslim rule lasted for five centuries from 1320 to 1819. In 1820, Ranjit Singh confirmed Gulab Singh as Raja of the State of Jammu. This provided the base to Gulab Singh who proceeded rapidly to build up a small empire of his own. He captured Ladakh and Baltistan in 1830’s and 1840 respectively. Due to his neutrality during the first Anglo-Sikh War, the British granted Gulab Singh the dominion over the valley of Kashmir. In 1846 the Sikhs had been indebted to cede Kashmir to the East India Company. However, the Governor General, Harding instantly shifted it to the ruler of Jammu under the Treaty of Amritsar of 16 March, 1846 for the sum of Rs.75,00,000 (about 500,000 British Pound). In this way the Dogra Dynasty was established at Jammu and Kashmir in 1846, which lasted till 1947.

Kashmir was one of the 562 princely states. Under the partition plan, all princely states were given two options either to accede to India or to Pakistan. However, rulers of these princely states were supposed to make their decisions keeping in view the geographical contiguity as well as aspirations of the population of their states.

In 1947 the Muslims comprised 79 percent of the whole population of Jammu and Kashmir while almost 93 percent in the Kashmir valley. The state had closely links with the then west Pakistan due to a variety of factors including as the common religion while the only road and rail links with the outside world through Pakistan. Telegraphic and mailing services also passed through Pakistan. Also, the tourist traffic to Kashmir, key source of income for Kashmiris, could only come via Rawalpindi. Similarly, the Jhelum River was the chief way through which timer could be floated down to export. Hari Singh, the then Maharaja of Kashmir, desired

to accede with India in contradiction of the aspirations of the bulk of the Muslim populace while ignoring the geographical contiguity of Jammu and Kashmir as well as communal interest of the population of the state. He made an offer of a standstill pact simultaneously to India and Pakistan to retain communication and supplies. Pakistan accepted the pact while India declined it.

Mararaja Harri Singh

Now, the Maharaja adopted a planned strategy. A Dogra, Nanak Singh, replaced the Prime Minister of Kashmir Ram Chandra Kak, having an inclination to an independent Kashmir and signed a standstill pact with Pakistan. Later, the nominee of the Congress Mehr Chand Mahajan replaced Nanak Singh. Meanwhile, the Maharaja ordered the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir to deposit all the arms that they possessed. As counter-measure to the Maharaja’s effort to disarm the Muslims, a guerrilla drivebegan and got vigor among the Poonchis who were former army men and already worked in the British Indian army during the Second World War. Gupta has found that of the 71,667 citizens of Jammu and Kashmir who served in the second World War, 60,402 were Muslims belonging to Poonch. This situation attracted tribesmen from the northwestern part of Pakistan who arrived Kashmir to support Kashmiri Muslims.

On 24 October 1947, the Maharaja requested Indian government for military assistance. The Indian government sent V.P. Menon was sent by the Indian government to observe the circumstances in response to the request of the Maharaja. At the dawn on 26 October, Menon escorted by the Prime Minister of Kashmir Mr. Mahajan returned to Delhi in the morning of 26th October 1947, while Maharaja along with his family left Srinagar for Jammu. The Maharaja sought military assistance in a letter addressed to the Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten, on 26th October and given it to Mr. Menon along with a singed Instrument of Accession who brought it to New Delhi. The recent research work of Alastair Lamb has revealed that India had sent its troops to Kashmir even before completion of the procedure of compliance. Alastair Lamb has described it in the following words

“… All accounts, however, agree that in the early morning of 27 October an airlift of Indian troops to Srinagar began ……. If Maharaja’s description of his travels is true, and he was quite emphatic that he refused to return to the State until Srinagar airfield was firmly in Indian hands, then it would appear that the Indian intervention actually took place before the formalities of Accession had been completed.”

India acknowledged the accession provisionally that a plebiscite was to be held under the global patronage to determine the aspirations of the people. Lord Mountbatten’s correspondence dated on 27th October in response to the Maharaja’s letter of accession is worth mentioning in this regard.

“In the special circumstances mentioned by your Highness, my government has decided to accept the accession of Kashmir State to the Dominion of India. In consistence with their policy that in the

case of any State, where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute, the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes that, as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people.”

Kashmir Dispute at the UN

In the wake of Pakistan-India warfare broke out on 1st January 1948, India raised the Kashmir question at the United Nations. It lodged a complaint to the Security Council of Pakistan’s assault on anarea, which had acceded to India legally. It is noteworthy that Indian complaint was based on the Article 34 and 35 of the Chapter six “Pacific Settlement of Dispute” of the UN Charter. India did not complaint on the basis of Chapter seven that concerns with acts of aggression.

The UN Security Council founded the UN Commission for Pakistan and India (UNCIP) on 20 January 1948 in order to investigate the facts. On the recommendations of the UNCIP, the Security Council adopted different resolutions containing measures to terminate the fighting and hold a fair referendum in Jammu and Kashmir. However, resolutions of August 13, 1948 and January 5, 1949 have great importance. These resolutions have sketched the Security Council’s stand on the Kashmir dispute and provided framework for resolution of the dispute. However, the Security Council adopted a political solution rather than taking a judicial evaluation of the complaints of India and Pakistan. It suggested a roadmap containing abandonment of forces, referendum and provisional government in Kashmir.27Pakistan was requested to remove all the tribesmen and its citizens from Kashmir while India was allowed to keep smallest power to support the government of Kashmir in the referendum.28

Under auspices of the United Nations, the UNCIP took several initiatives to mediate between Pakistan and India. India was adamant to her stand on the plebiscite question while Pakistan refused to accept any formula with minor adjustment that maintain status quo.

Kashmir dispute is main irritant between Pakistan and India. The whole gambit of their bilateral relationship has been dictated by the Kashmir dispute to the great extent. Despite Tashkent Agreement (1966) and Simla Accord (1972) were the important initiatives, though taken as result of end of war, yet no major breakthrough came out except showing willingness and commitment to negotiations and belief in settling the conflicting issues through dialogue. The Simla Accord

redefined ceasefire line in the wake of end of December 1971 war and renamed Ceasefire Line (CFL) as Line of Control (LOC). It obliged both countries not to interfere in internal affairs of each other and alter their boundaries unilaterally.29It is notable that India and Pakistan have different interpretations regarding the Simla Agreement. Indian claim that Simla accord prevents both countries to raise the Kashmir issue at multilateral forum is not valid. According to the Simla accord, the UN charter has been recognized as the principal framework to govern the relations between Pakistan and India.30Therefore, the UN charter is supreme to any bilateral or multilateral agreement and testifies Pakistan’s argument that the UN resolutions are relevant to Kashmir issue.

Kashmir Issue after 9/11

Since 1947 the Kashmir issue has been the cause of tense relations between India and Pakistan. It is playing role of constraint in the road to peace between India and Pakistan. India started to project freedom movement in Kashmir as the movement of fundamentalists after disintegration of former Soviet Union. The 9/11 was the last factor that had great impact on freedom movements carried out by the Muslims against their subjugations. Kashmir freedom movement was not an exception to it. After assault on Indian parliament in December 2001 India charged Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism and supporting terrorists in Kashmir.

Kashmiris struggle for Independence against Indian Occupation. Photo Pinterest

Islamabad considers any breakthrough in the Indo-Pak stalemate on the Kashmir issue as crucial for peace in South Asia. Nonetheless, New Delhi has different perceptions. For Pakistan, Kashmir is vital subject and should be resolved under the UN resolutions.

Previously, India was willing to the solution as per the UN resolutions. However, it altered its stance later presenting different excuses. After giving special status in her constitution under Article 370, India terms Jammu and Kashmir as its integral part. The standoff between India and Pakistan is prevailing because both countries have divergent preferences. Therefore, it is time for both Pakistan and India to test any alternative approach to improve their bilateral relations. In this regard, economic cooperation is an appropriate tool for establishing mutual stakes and managing the conflict to the extent when both parties will be able to resolve their conflicts amicably.

Among the masses of Kashmir three groups of public opinion can be found. These include the nationalist, the religious and the secular. The nationalists, influenced by Ammanullah Khan’s the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), desire for independence. They do not accede either with India or Pakistan rather wish to restore the “Kashmiriyat” or the true honour of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.31 The religious sections led by the Hurriyat Conference want accession to Pakistan.

According to them, Islam is the mutual connection between the Muslim majority of Kashmir and Pakistan. On the other hand, the Hindu Kashmiri groups of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena, wish to cancel Kashmir’s special status as conceded in article 370 of the Indian Constitution.32 The secular Kashmiri group encompass the Jammu and Kashmir National Congress and offshoot of mainstream Indian political parties as the Congress and National Front want to retain with India.

Kashmir has been an important issue at the agenda of negotiations between India and Pakistan. The inflexible conducts of Pakistan and India regarding the Kashmir issue has determined the ups and down in their relations. Pakistan considers Kashmir dispute as the core issue that determines the cordial relation between the two countries. India does not consider the Kashmir dispute as the major issue because it gives equal rank to other issues such as mutual trade, confidence building measures, economic challenges faced by the two countries and terrorism.

Kashmir Dispute after 5 August 2019

The Indian government revoked the special status accorded to Indian-administered Kashmir in its constitution, the most far-reaching political move on the disputed region in nearly 70 years.

Srinagar Photo Al-Jazeera

A presidential decree issued on August 5 revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution that guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state, including the right to its own constitution and autonomy to make laws on all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs.

In the lead-up to the move, India sent thousands of additional troops to the disputed region, imposed a crippling curfew, shut down telecommunications and internet, and arrested political leaders.

The move has worsened the already-heightened tensions with neighbouring Pakistan, which said it would downgrade its diplomatic relations with India.

Pakistan’s struggle for Kashmir after 5 August 2019

On 6 August 2019 the Pakistan Foreign Office issued a statement stating, “As a party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps.” It called the revocation a “unilateral step”. On 6 August 2019, after a commanders meeting, Pakistan’s army chief said that Pakistan Army stood by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end and that the army would “go to any extent” to support the people of Kashmir. An emergency joint parliamentary sitting of the National Assembly and the Senate to discuss the situation was called. On 7 August, the joint parliamentary sitting passed a resolution to condemn India’s move and called it “illegal, unilateral, reckless and coercive attempt to alter the disputed status of Indian administered Kashmir as enshrined in the UNSC resolutions”.

On 11 August 2019, prime minister Imran Khan compared the Indian government to “Nazis”. He accused that India was attempting to change the demography of the Muslim majority Kashmir through ethnic cleansing. Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi issued a statement on Tuesday 13 August 2019 that he had written a letter to the president of the United Nations Security Council with a request to convene an emergency meeting of the council to discuss India’s “illegal actions that violate UN resolutions on Kashmir”. The foreign minister also called for circulation of the letter among members of the Security Council.

On 7 August, a meeting of the National Security Committee decided to downgrade Pakistan’s diplomatic relations with India. Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India was recalled and the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan was expelled. The next day, Pakistan’s Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad suspended the Samjhauta Express train service and the Thar Express. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting decided to ban all cultural exchanges with India, including banning the screening of Indian films and dramas inside Pakistan. On 9 August 2019, Pakistan formally suspended a large part of its trade relations with India and banned all exports and import to/from India.

On 27 September 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday addressed the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York and highlighted the Kashmir issue. Photo Dawn

On 20 August 2019, Pakistan announced that it will take the dispute to the International Court of Justice, adding that its case would centre on alleged human rights violations by India.

On 27 September 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday addressed the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York and highlighted the Kashmir issue.

2020

In 2020, media reports started emerging of preparation for Pakistan’s pro-Kashmir campaigning on 5 August well before the date. Prime Minister Imran Khan came out with a “18-point plan” for commemorating the anniversary which includes mention of the Inter-Services Intelligence. This includes a media trip to Pakistan-administrated Kashmir, and one for the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan who will also be given a white paper. Pakistani news channels will cover the “Black Day” and logos will be modified accordingly while newspaper will carry relevant material. All Pakistani embassies will also hold protests. Outreach to Kuala Lumpur, Ankara and Beijing is also in the plan. Imran Khan will also make a live speech from Kashmir on the occasion.

On 4 August, Pakistan’s government released an updated political map which included Pakistan’s territorial claims on Jammu andKashmir, Ladakh, the Siachen Glacier, the eastern banks of Sir Creek, as well as Junagadh and Manavadar in India’s Gujarat region.

On 4 August, Pakistan’s government released an updated political map which included Pakistan’s territorial claims on Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, the Siachen Glacier, the eastern banks of Sir Creek, as well as Junagadh and Manavadar in India’s Gujarat region. The map also annotated Ladakh’s boundary with China as “frontier undefined”, whose status would be formalised by “the sovereign authorities concerned after the settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.” The map was adopted for official use throughout Pakistan. The government renamed the Kashmir Highway, which runs through Islamabad, as Srinagar Highway. On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the revocation of Kashmir’s special status, Pakistan also observed 5 August as Youm-e-Istehsal (“Day of Exploitation”) nationally. Rallies and seminars were arranged to express solidarity with Kashmiris.

United Nations Security Council held a closed-door consultation on Kashmir

United Nations Security Council held a closed-door consultation on Kashmir after a nudge from China. A reiteration for the second round of ‘closed-door consultations’ was requested by China under “AOB” (Any Other Business). The meeting is based on an old request raised by Pakistan in December 2019.

Communiqué of the Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir meeting on the side lines of the 74th session of UN General Assembly New York, 23 September 2019

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir met on the side lines of the 74th session of UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, 25 September 2019. The OIC Secretary General chaired the meeting.

Having heard a detailed briefing from the Foreign Minister of Pakistan over the recent developments in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir,

The Ministerial Meeting:

Reaffirmed the OIC position and resolutions on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute

Expressed deep concern over the worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) as a result of India’s actions of 5 August 2019.

Noted the statement by Pakistan of 5 August 2019 rejecting these illegal and unilateral actions.

Welcomed the statement issued by the UN Secretary General of 8 August 2019 affirming that the position of the United Nations on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir region is governed by the UN Charter, applicable UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.

Welcomed the UN Security Council meeting held on 16 August in response to Pakistan’s request to consider the situation arising from India’s actions.

Affirmed that Indian actions are inconsistent with international law,applicable UN Security Council resolutions and India’s own solemn commitments to implement UNSC resolutions.

Expressed grave concern that India’s actionsaim to change the identity and demographic composition of the occupied Jammu and Kashmir and to transformit from Muslim-majority state into Hindu-majority territory.

Welcomed the two reports issued by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in June 2018 and July 2019 comprehensively documenting the gross and systematic violations of human rights in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

Deplored the extended, months long, lockdown of the Kashmiri people, round-the-clock curfew and complete communications blackout in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and suppression of Kashmiris protestors who demand freedom from Indian occupation.

Expressed serious concerns over the arbitrary detention and arrest of thousands of people including Kashmiri leadership, professionals and peaceful demonstrators and their transportation to prisons and detention centres outside Jammu & Kashmir.

Deplored the indiscriminate use of force,live ammunition and use of pellet guns against unarmed protestors.

Noted with deep concern that the suffering of the Kashmiri people has been exacerbated by lack of access tohospitals, medicines including lifesaving drugs and food supplies.

Expressed deep concern at reports of abduction of young boys and their subjection to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Regrettedthat India has not allowed the OIC, IPHRC and United Nations Fact Finding Missions

to visit Indianoccupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Denounced attempts to equate the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri people for liberation from foreign occupation and their right of self-determination, with terrorism.

Having considered the aforementioned grave developments,

Demanded that India:

  • rescind its unilateral illegal actions and reiterate its commitment to abide by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
  • provide solemn assurances that it will not change the occupied territory’s demographic composition and not allow non-Kashmiris to acquire property or residency in Jammu and Kashmir
  • halt its human rights violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, including the use of force against peaceful demonstrators, especially the use of pellet guns, lift the curfew, allow peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, release all political prisoners, activists and abducted youth;
  • repealits draconian emergency laws, and withdraw its heavy military presence from Kashmiri cities, towns and villages; and
  • provide unhindered access to occupied Jammu and Kashmir to human rights organizations and international media to ascertain and report on the situation in the occupied territory.

Directed their respective Permanent Representatives in New York and Geneva to periodically brief the UN Secretary General, Presidents of the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council, President of the Human Rights Council and High Commissioner for Human Rights on the evolving developments in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

Requested the OIC Secretary General to send a copy of this Communiqué to the UN Secretary General and present a report on the situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir to the Annual Coordination Meeting of the OIC Foreign Ministers being held on the sidelines of the 74thsession of UNGA in New York on 27 September 2019.

References:

The Antecedents of Pakistan-India Conflict: Challenges and Prospects for Solution by Dr. Tahir Ashraf

Al-Jazeera 04-09-2019

Wikipedia.com

oic.org

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