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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kashmir predicament: Who really started it?

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India and Pakistan, the two nations that were divided on religious lines have been at loggerheads from the very beginning onwards. Of the many issues on which the two sides confront each other, Kashmir remains to be the central and core issue. But today, it has become an extremely complicated issue and no real solutions have come up that would satisfy the two sides.

So what really started the conflict?
All princely states were given an option to either accede with India or Pakistan, or remain independent. Though the third option of remaining independent was given, it was made clear that the princely states could hardly survive on their own. This was true for the landlocked state of Kashmir as well, as it would have to necessarily depend on either on India or Pakistan for trade.

However, the Hindu ruler of largely Muslim dominated Kashmir, Hari Singh chose to remain independent. In October 1947, Pakistan invaded Kashmir. Hari Singh now chose to accede with India. Subsequently India sent its armed forces to recapture Kashmir. It must be noted that this was took place immediately after partition and India had much larger millitary as compared to Pakistan at that time.

After India had captured two-third of the state, Pandit Nehru against the wishes of his home minister, Sardar Patel went to the UN Security Council. He intentions were pure but he was an idealist and not a realist. UN Security Council passed Resolution 47 on April 21, 1948. The resolution imposed that an immediate cease-fire take place and said that Pakistan should withdraw all presence and had no say in Jammu and Kashmir politics. It stated that India should retain a minimum military presence and stated "that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.

However, Nehru soon realised that it was a grave mistake to take the matter to the Security Council. By 1948, the Cold war had began to start and the world politics was dominated and dictated by the big powers (US and USSR), who wanted to spread their influence with the Capitalist and Socialist blocs competing against each other. Pakistan never withdrew its troops from Azad Kashmir and thus the Kashmir dispute remained unsolved.

Other similar conflict
Kashmir isn't the only victim in the world of the selfish interests of the big powers. They created many other similar problems all over the world. Korea, Vietnam and Germany are some of glaring examples. While Germany's re-unification was peaceful, Vietnam had to fight a massive war. While USSR supported the communist North Vietnam, the US supported the capitalist South Vietnam. The Korea issue is yet to be solved and has now assumed dangerous proportions with the North Korea acquiring the nuclear capability.

If we look at all such conflicts, the two big powers rarely followed any ethics. For instance, during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the US ignored the massive genocide that was going on in East Pakistan and threatened to intervene in the war.
The Nixon administration also ignored reports it received of the 'genocidal' activities of the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan, most notably the Blood telegram. When Pakistan's defeat in the eastern sector seemed certain, Nixon sent the USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal, a move which was a nuclear threat. The Enterprise arrived on station on December 11, 1971. On 6 December and 13 December, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of ships, armed with nuclear missiles, from Vladivostok; they trailed U.S. Task Force 74 into the Indian Ocean from 18 December 1971 until 7 January 1972. The Soviets also sent a nuclear submarine to ward off the threat posed by USS Enterprise in the Indian Ocean. As the United States were not ready to risk open nuclear warfare with the Soviets the Enterprise simply turned around and sailed back to the US. (Source)
This strategy of US didn't stop and it supported General Musharraf as the dictator of Pakistan until he was finally removed.

A lot many people in India blame Nehru for trying to be too idealistic. But it is the two big powers that must have to share the larger of the blame of creating the Kashmir issue, thus endangering nearly 1.5 billion people of the sub-continent. Subsequently, India has maintained that Kashmir is a bilateral issue while Pakistan has continuously tried to internationalize it.

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