The Kashmir Issue: Sovereignty, Nuclear War & International Security


(1) The Kashmir Issue: An Overview

The topic of national security and power is rooted in the Kashmir conflict between the States of India and Pakistan, where both nations have pursued foreign policies that revolve around implementing a security strategy that tightens their grasp on the disputed region. (Conflict Between India and Pakistan | Global Conflict Tracker, 2020). This persistence has led to an almost-eight decade long occupation of the Kashmir state and its people, making it the most militarised zone in the world.

The partitioning of India in 1947 has since seen the land portioned into Pakistani and Indian-controlled territories where the religious majorities of Hindu and Muslims reside. (Dalrymple, 2015). The tense standoff between the two nations had witnessed a series of wars and casualties, violent protests and deadly clashes in the district of Kashmir over the years.

The Pakistani-controlled State of Kashmir remains a flashpoint between the two countries, having recently experienced an escalation in violence with the deployment of additional military forces following the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. (Analysis by Swati Gupta, CNN, 2019).

The territory of conflict is particularly centred around the Kashmir region, with neighbouring Ladakh and Jammu as accessories to the ongoing land grab between India, Pakistan and China. It boasts an ethnically diverse population and is famed for its lakes, meadows and snow-capped mountains.

“The Kashmir Issue: Sovereignty, Nuclear War & International Security” is written with the intention to discuss the elements of national security and power in India and Pakistan’s approach to acquiring the disputed regions, and acknowledges the scenarios of a nuclear war in the context of securing international security.

It is with the intention of the writer that this paper (1) profiles the disputed regions of Jammu and Kashmir, with a particular focus on Kashmir; (2) studies Kashmir’s territorial sovereignty, self-determination and national integrity; (3) critically analyses the Indian Constitution and its Special Status clause on Kashmir; (4) explores the external motivations that cripple the process of peace and recovery in the Kashmir region; and (5) discusses the proposal of UN and international intervention in containing the conflict and preventing nuclear war.

(Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir: The Future Trajectory — Indian Defence Review, 2020)

(2) Disputed Parties & Parties of Interest

This chapter is intended to satisfy the first objective in profiling the disputed regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

2.1 A British Partition

The end of British rule in 1947 saw the partitioning of the Dominion of India into the independent states of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. (How India, Pakistan and Bangladesh Were Formed, 2019). It was sectioned off into provinces that were determined by the religious majorities of Muslim and Hindu communities, which had ultimately triggered an overwhelming refugee crisis when the displacement and resettlement of 10–12 million people were decided upon their faith. (Nag, 2001).

The large-scale violence that quickly followed after the partition had caused an estimated amount of two million people dead with the atmosphere of hostility continuing between the neighbouring states of Pakistan and India till the present day. (History of Conflict in India and Pakistan — Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, 2019). The ethnic cleansing of religious populations had continued throughout the other princely States with rulers often involved or complacent in the act of crime itself.

The Muslim community, in particular, had been massively massacred by extremist Hindus and Sikhs under the ruling Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh. (Rifat Fareed, 2017). A significant number of these Muslim refugees had resettled in Pakistan, with the remaining Hindu and Sikh refugees refusing to return to India for fear of persecution and family disownment. (ANI, 2019).

2.2 Jammu & Kashmir

The states of Jammu and Kashmir take up the Southern part of the entire Kashmir region, and was administered by India as a union territory. Their borders are separated by a military-controlled border called the Line of Control. (“For China and India, a Border Dispute That Never Ended,” 2020). It serves as an unofficial border between the Jammu and Kashmir regions controlled separately by India and Pakistan.

The formation of the union territory is recognised under India’s Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019. The terminologies of the States are, however, formally acknowledged as the “Indian-Occupied” or “Indian-Held” Jammu and Kashmir by the Government of Pakistan. It is similarly perceived as “Pakistan-Occupied” and “Pakistan-Held” Kashmir by the Indian Government. (Ashraf et al., 2003).

(The Partition of India, 2017)
(Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir: The Future Trajectory — Indian Defence Review, 2020)

(3) The Claim to Sovereignty

This chapter is intended to satisfy the second objective in studying Kashmir’s claim to territorial sovereignty, self-determination and national integrity.

3.1 The Kashmiri Narrative

The rise of Kashmiri nationalism and its call to an independent State has set both India and Pakistan on edge. The unnerving idea of a State free from external governance and interference comes from a recent campaign of emotionally-charged protesters calling for both New Delhi and Islamabad to leave their “motherland”, and form the independent nation state of Jammu and Kashmir. (TRTWorld, 2019).

Pakistan’s lack of response and action to the crackdown of separatist movements and “terrorist” motivations on India’s side of Kashmir has driven civil unrest and a growing distrust in the country’s ability to defend and champion for Kashmiris and the majority Muslim population. (Beyond Intractability, 2016). As such, pro-independence demonstrations have attracted in both controlled regions with continuous calls to freedom from all foreign oppressors charged at Indian and Pakistani security.

The independence struggles on both sides of the border would always be suppressed and labelled as “Indian agents” or “Pakistani terrorists”. (India Forum Archives: TSP News And Discussion — 3, 2012). It’s become a general understanding that the Kashmir region and its people are merely pawns in the regional contest between India and Pakistan. The Line of Control has essentially made the Kashmiris of the two administered areas refugees in their own country. (“In Pakistan-Held Kashmir, Growing Calls for Independence,” 2019).

(4) Challenging the Status Quo

This chapter is intended to satisfy the third objective in critically analysing the Indian Constitution and its Special Status clause on Kashmir.

4.1 India’s Autonomy & the Constitution

The articles 370 and 35A are drafted by the Indian constitution to afford special status towards the regions of Jammu and Kashmir — a region that has been the subject of conflict and dispute between India, Pakistan and China. (The Hindu, 2019).

These articles are redefined as a separate set of laws that strictly apply to the States of Jammu and Kashmir, and no other province or district in India. Together, they instil a legal system that ensures the protection of citizenship, ownership of property and fundamental rights of the local populace in the region. (Tremblay, Reeta Chowdhari, 1996).

The Article 370 of the Indian constitution is the primary framework that issues the special status to Jammu and Kashmir. (Anuja, 2019). It confers the region with the power to operate on a separate constitution, its own State flag and complete autonomy over its internal administration. It was further endorsed under the “Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions”, but was later enforced as a permanent feature in the Indian constitution. (Faizan Mustafa, 2019).

The Article 35A of the Indian constitution was set up to empower the Union States’ legislature by defining the context of a “permanent resident” as one who belongs to Jammu and Kashmir, and could, hence, access the rights and privileges afforded to them under the special status as recognised by the Indian constitution. (General & Katoch, 2017). It was necessary to differentiate the “permanent” status of residents in the region as the only ones to access this privilege, in which even an Indian citizen is not entitled to. This includes the ability to purchase land and property, to vote and contest for elections, and to seek government employment and access state education and health care. (Devansh Sharma, 2019).

The revocation of the special status on August 5th 2019 had been coupled with the media blackout of the Kashmir Valley and the detainment of local politicians, including the former chief minister of Kashmir. (BBC News, 2019). This prompted the international call to address the growing concerns of the infringement of human rights and unlawful detention of Kashmiri Muslims, which, under the blackout, was at risk of going unreported. (Devjyot Ghoshal, Alasdair Pal, 2019).

(Online, 2019)
(PTI, 2019)

(5) The Obstacle to Peace & Stability

This chapter is intended to satisfy the fourth objective in exploring the external motivations that cripple the process of peace and recovery in the Kashmir region.

5.1 Religious Supremacy & Nationalism

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its elected leader, Narendra Modi, is rooted on Hindu nationalism as its main support base and the motivations of its rise to power. (“Under Modi, a Hindu Nationalist Surge Has Further Divided India,” 2019). The 14th and current Prime Minister of India has long been suspected of his anti-Muslim rhethoric. His service as Gujarat’s Chief Minister in 2001 had endorsed the riots that took part in the State which had caused at least 1,000 people killed — a majority of which were Muslims. (“Timeline of the Riots in Modi’s Gujarat,” 2014).

The central concept of Hindu nationalism in India was first identified during confrontations with European colonisation. The term “Hindutva” was coined with the common goal to establish a Hindu India with the exclusion of the Muslim minority. (Arif Rafiq, 2019). The multiple invasions of previous Muslim empires and the conversions into Islam has increasingly purported the Muslims as the “threatening other”. (Hindu Nationalism and Its Impact on Kashmir | Geopolitical Monitor, 2019).

The role of BJP’s Hindu nationalism has accommodated hate speech and hate crimes against Muslims living in India and its controlled State of Jammu and Kashmir. (“Shoot the Traitors,” 2020). They’re often times portrayed as sexual predators who slaughter cows — an animal deemed sacred by Hindus. The nationwide justification of anti-Muslim discrimination has served the BJP’s agenda to project Kashmir as a territorial threat to India’s safety and security. (The Kashmir Quagmire, Rising Islamophobia and Hindu Nationalism, 2019).

The approach to militarily interference by funding and endorsing separatist and pro-Pakistan demonstrations had seen the centralisation of more military deployments from the Indian border. (How Did Pakistan Arrive at Its Present Juncture?, n.d.).

The Pakistani involvement in the Kashmir region comes with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to train external jihadis and use Pakistani and special operations intelligence to augment the indigenous rebels. It was later reported that at least half of those killed by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir were foreigners. (India: State Response to Insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir — The Jammu Case, 2013).

5.2 Pakistan Insurgency

The accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India following the Pakistani invasion in October 1947 has driven Pakistan to commit its entire political and foreign identity to reversing the Indian autonomy on the regions. (“India Revokes Kashmir’s Special Status, Raising Fears of Unrest,” 2019).

It’s formal establishment as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was in clear opposition to India’s then very secular status. The country has since been compelled to campaign for the continued islamisation of its administered Kashmir, with the driving force of national insurgency accentuated by radical Islamic values and beliefs. (Pakistan Army and Terrorism; an Unholy Alliance, 2012).

(6) Nuclear Actors & International Security

This chapter is intended to satisfy the fifth objective in discussing the proposal of UN and international intervention in containing the conflict and preventing nuclear war.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 47 was drafted in 1948 to address the pressing concern of working out the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan. (Kallol Bhattacherjee, 2019). It was followed with the setting up of an official Commission represented by Belgium, Colombia, Argentina, Czechoslovakia and the United States, in which the instruction was given to guide the governments of India and Pakistan towards peace and order. (Korbel, 1949).

The Resolution had also endorsed a three-step process to bring about an end to the ongoing conflict. The first was the request to Pakistan to withdraw its people who had entered Kashmir to participate in the insurgency. The second step was to turn to India and ask that it, too, withdraw its military deployments — with the exception of a few to maintain law and order. The final step of the process was to have an India-appointed plebiscite administrator. (Resolution Adopted by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan on 13 1948., 2020).

Both India and Pakistan have adopted the Resolution as a whole, and had welcomed the UN Commission to mediate the issue, while objections of certain clauses were raised against the Resolution. However, despite considerable efforts from both countries and the international community, a truce was not achieved and the Commission later declared its failure in 1949. (UN’s Failure in Kashmir A Factual Survey, n.d.).

Since then, requests to the UN Security Council on the Kashmir conflict have continued to be in the works of improving and deciding on a solution. The Indian representatives to the Council had recently pushed for the “outdated agenda item” to be scrapped off the “India-Pakistan question” on Kashmiri sovereignty. (Awan, 2020). It was, however, not entertained as a consensus between all parties must be reached, and a resolution for the conflict is achieved.

The three main stakeholders of the region are all nuclear powers, with two of them having a history of heated conflicts on the region of subject. The battle on Kashmir between India, Pakistan and China could lead to a nuclear catastrophe if the issue goes unresolved. (Security, 2020).

(7) References

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