Kashmir Issue from History to Present

Updated: Jun 11

When Ranjit Singh died in 1839, Punjab went in chaos owing to the matter of succession. On the other hand, the British East India (EIC) Company was growing its power. A treaty was signed between British and Ranjit Singh that the EIC will not accede northwest of Sutlej River, but later by seeing the opportunity, EIC started violating the provision and increase the power beyond the Sutlej. Resultantly, the first Anglo-Sikh war happens in 1845-46 wherein British prevailed the Sikh Army. The Treaty of Lahore was signed and the region Kashmir, which was under Sikh Rule, was ceded to EIC. British sold the Kashmir region to Raja Gulab Singh for 8 million Rupees in return of loyalty and military help when needed. From then, the Kashmir was ruled by the Dogras.

Read also: Pakistan Political History


The despotism of Hari Singh:

Hari Singh ascended to the throne in 1925. Since then, he was showing unfair attitude and cruelty towards Muslims. Although there was system of local governance where representatives could be elected for political and social voices of people, Hari Singh had no interest of including them in legislative and law making process; Tax burden used to be imposed or people, and help was taken from British for crushing down the revolts and rebellion if happened.





When the British introduced the government of India Act (1935), the provision of Instrument of Accession was also incorporated into it. According to Instrument of Accession, those independent states, who were under the dominion of Rulers, can will-fully join the Federation of India. However, at starts, neither of the Princely states showed any interest of merging their territory to British Empire.


Post-world war 2, when the colonials decide to leave India and divide the sub-continent into two independent states, the question of princely states emerged. The ruler of those states had been given the choice either to accede with India or Pakistan. Nonetheless, some argue that, instrument of accession put choice constraint on princely states, and must be given the right of self-determinism exclusively by including a choice of being a sovereign and separate state.


However, the counter-argument is that self-determinism is based on collective identity and depends on majority will, the third choice was out of the purview of Instrument of Accession because if ruler was given the opportunity to declare sole independence, the clusters of Authoritarian territories or kingdom throughout the sub-continent would be formed.



Why Instrument of Accession led to the Kashmir Crisis?

As mentioned above that the major population of Kashmir was unhappy with the Dogra rule and willing to join Pakistan, Hari Singh and Nehru, then prime minister, had idea about the chances of rebellion by Kashmiri people. Initially, Singh was delaying the signing process because he thought of making Kashmir a sovereign under his dominion.


On the other hand, both sides: Pakistan and India, compelling him to take decision as soon as possible. Pakistan had fear that India would try to impel Hari Singh or would dive into territory with its military force and occupy it. Concerning the fear, Mujahidin from Pashtun tribal areas were moved for the support of Kashmiris. According to some historian, the rebellion had also been started by the local people because of Hari Sindh’s act of suppression.


Singh found no other way except signing of Instrument of Accession in favor of India, and on 26 October 1947, he finally formally signed the document. Soon after the document was signed, Indian forces marched into territory and started crushing down the Mujahidin and people. Pakistan realizes that if the immediate actions would not be taken, India army would have captured all of the region and she has to lose the strategically most important territory.



Nehru after witnessed the situation wrote the letter to United Nation Security Council on 1 January 1948, and informed that the present scenario would endanger the peace. In response, Pakistan also writes the letter on 14 Jan, 1948 contained its own grievances and points.


However, UN didn’t order any of the country to withdraw their forces, but established a commission named United Nation Commission of India and Pakistan under the Resolution 39 for observing the ongoing tensions between two new states. Meanwhile, the Pakistan forces had also arrived in support of proxies and the pro-Pakistan rebellion.


Later, another resolution was passed UNSCR 47, which stated that the Plebiscite would be conducted by the UN after withdrawing the proxies by Pakistan followed by Indian troops. Resolution 47 is considered the only solution because of its legality and consensus on it.


However, who would withdraw force is still the confusing question because both sides are not ready due to lack of trust on each other. Pakistan argued that India has no credibility if Pakistan removes its proxies and force, India would also. Thus, the only situation wherein the Pakistan withdraw if India synchronizes and vacant the Kashmir at the same time. However, India do not agree with that and claims Pakistan have to make first.



In 1949, The tension was being escalated despite the Resolution 47. Thus, the UN set up the observing body for monitoring and reporting of ground conditions which was united nations military observer group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). The efforts led to the Karachi Agreement 1949 which established the cease fire line to be supervised by the UN observing body which is known as Line of control (LOC).



On account of no progress on plebiscite, UN sent its renowned member, an Australian Judge, Sir Owen Dixon for comprehensive understanding of conflict and proposition of concrete and acceptable solution. Dixon was sent in June-July 1950 when he met with almost every influential personality involved in Kashmir matter.


Among those, Sheikh Abdullah, a Political leader, and Nehru was prominent. He conducted several interviews and analyzed the demographically in detailed. Later, in conclusion, he argued that Kashmir, which is being considered a single entity, actually an amalgamation of multiple ethnic territories where different kind of ethnicities exist and they all have their ethno-nationalist concerns. For instance, the Buddhist and Hindu, which are way different than Muslims, are not in favor of acceding with Pakistan.


On the other hand, the Muslims, which are mostly want to join Pakistan, would never be happy with India. Thus, despite of considering Kashmir a single entity and conducting the plebiscite in whole region, it should be divided into four different regions.


He further proposed that each division based on ethnic majority would be acceded to Pakistan and India without going for plebiscite. India, initially, agreed with the decision and ready to accept the Dixon propositions, but Pakistan cut-throat rejected and stood on the plebiscite resolution. Later, India also moved back after seeing the Pakistan’s rejection.


It is hard to find out the actual reasons why Pakistan refused to accept Sir Owen Dixon propositions, but there are some clues which could help us dissecting the reasons behind.


At that time, Kashmir issue was nascent and there are high chances that dispute would be resolved soon. Because resolution 47 was already passed and plebiscite was accepted the solving mechanism by both side, Pakistan had in mind that the majority would choose to accede with Pakistan, and in this way, the territory would be gained. So, dividing the region could have led to lose of the whole Kashmir as a one unit and Pakistan would only get the Muslim majority area.


On the other hand, India was satisfied because of some reasons. Firstly, the international diplomacy was in favor of Pakistan because she had maintained the good relations with western world and India was still struggling. Thus, India thought that it is better to have something rather nothing. But, in all case, it is cleared that both sided had in mind that the chances of plebiscite are very high.


The demography at that time is also strengthen the argument because Kashmir is regarded as the test of Two-Nation theory where the Pakistan became the homeland of sub-continent Muslims, and if Kashmir’s Muslims area are being given directly to her, then why the compromise had been made owing to the Hindu and Buddhist majority area.


The counter argument which is plausible is that Kashmir was always taken as the economically and strategically vital region. In that sense, if Ladakh and Jammu, which were non-Muslims majority areas, were acceded to India, Pakistan couldn’t harness the full benefit still because the Indus and other river flows from Ladakh and then enters in other Kashmir areas. However, it is difficult to tell exact reasons that why Pakistan didn’t accept Dixon proposal.



As Pakistan signed CENTO-SEATO, she dived into the major international game of two super power USSR and USA which we called Cold-war. The signed cleared the Pakistan stance with USA and she became the vital ally against communism. Soviet hated the Pakistan’s position and opted to go for India.


However, India didn’t formally choose USSR side and retained its neutrality, but the later proximity and relations with Moscow indicates its covert position in cold-war. On one hand, Pakistan was getting economic and military assistance from USA.


On the other hand, she was highlighting the Kashmir dispute on International forum such as UN and asking the global community for intervening in that matter. However, several resolutions came on the floor of security council, but soviet vetoed and refrain the international organization to intervene in the Kashmir matter.


USSR openly put its stand on Kashmir issue toward India. For example, in 1950s when Nikita S. Khrushchev visited India and Afghanistan, he said that USSR considers the Kashmir as an integral part of India. The statement was undoubtedly not less than an arrow. Later, the history accounts that How the USSR proximity to India and distance from Pakistan was seen.



Post-1971 war, the Bhutto government reached to the agreement (in Simla conference) where both side India and Pakistan cemented the Line of control and exercising cease fire. However, the results of debate were differed to what happened later when both side continuously remained engage in violation.


In May 1999, the mujahidin captured the highest peak in the kargil region wherefrom the Indian Line communication became the easy target for them. India, allegedly, blamed Pakistan that the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) is backing the intruders. When the tension rose, international community intervene into the matter. Indian side urged the United states to interfere, which resulted in the talk between president Jimmy carter and Prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Later, the guerilla forces, infiltrated in Indian occupied Kashmir, stepped back and the Kargil conflict was had been resolved.


In Feb 2019, the Indian military convoy was attacked in Kashmir by the terrorist group in which many soldiers died. India allegedly blamed it as Pakistan-sponsored act, and in return, organized an air strike in Pakistani territory. Pakistan as Tit-for-tat retaliated with an air-strike in IOK which resulted in Aerial engagement in which two Indian fighter jet were shot down.


In 2019, the Modi’s government fueled and burned the flammable issue by Revoking Article 370, which grants the special status of Kashmir. Pakistan overwhelmingly condemned the act as Indian moved to change the demography of the region.


The constitutional amendment changed the earlier status of Kashmir as an autonomous region which provoked the local Kashmir people. Resultantly, the mass protest had been witnessed and government had to take measures to suppress local unrest. Since then, the condition of Kashmir is volatile and humanitarian community is raising voice against state suppression. On the other hand, Pakistan government, especially Prime minister, is also seem active, for he highlights the Kashmir issue on International forum.