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Kashmir, thorn in flesh of Pakistan – and India

  • Imanuddin Razak

    The Jakarta Post

| Tue, November 21 2017 | 01:29 am
Kashmir, thorn in flesh of Pakistan – and India Border post: An entrance to the Pakistan side of the Pakistan-India border post in Wagah, a village situated in Lahore district, Punjab, Pakistan. The village has hosted daily flag-lowering ceremonies jointly held by the security forces of Pakistan and India since 1959.(JP/Imanuddin Razak)" border="0" width="780" height="473">Border post: An entrance to the Pakistan side of the Pakistan-India border post in Wagah, a village situated in Lahore district, Punjab, Pakistan. The village has hosted daily flag-lowering ceremonies jointly held by the security forces of Pakistan and India since 1959.(JP/Imanuddin Razak)

Seventy years after Pakistan’s independence, the smoldering Kashmir issue involving a border conflict with India remains a most daunting problem.

The Kashmir stalemate is rooted in the painful birth of India and Pakistan. Britain relinquished its control of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, partitioning it into predominantly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, while Kashmir was given the liberty to accede to either nation.

Kashmir is partially or completely claimed by three countries: India, Pakistan and China. India controls one state called Jammu and Kashmir, which makes up the southern and eastern portions of the region, totaling about 45 percent of Kashmir. Pakistan controls three areas called Azad Jammu-Kashmir (AJK) or Azad Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan, which make up the northern and western portions of the region, totaling about 35 percent of Kashmir.

Meanwhile, China controls one area called Aksai Chin in the northeastern part of the region, equal to 20 percent of Kashmir.

Officials say that conflict in Kashmir is religiously charged. But, the fact that the region is also rich in natural resources could be a factor in the prolonged conflicts.

“Kashmir’s soil has reserves of gold, silver and copper. It also has significant reserves of coal, granite and marble, as well as precious stones like rubies, sapphires and tourmaline,” AJK president Sardar Masood Khan said.

The perpetual Kashmir conflict basically refers to the one involving Pakistan and India, with the bilaterally agreed Line of Control, which divides the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir, being 700 kilometers long.

Another tension in the region pits India and China in regard to Aksai Chin. The area is administered by China as part of Hotan County, which is situated in the southwestern part of Hotan Prefecture of Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

Aksai Chin, however, is also claimed by India as a part of its Ladakh region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1962, China and India fought a brief war in Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh. In 1993 and 1996, the two countries signed agreements that bound them to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a demarcation line that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.

Apart from its dispute over Aksai Chin, India has also accused Pakistan of having handed over some 3,220 square miles of Kashmir to China.

As a ramification of the spiteful separation in 1947 and the subsequent Kashmir conflicts, relations between Pakistan and India have been tense since then. They have fought three wars over Kashmir — in 1947 and 1965.

Even after both countries became nuclear powers in 1998, they came close to another military confrontation once again in 1999.

Bilateral tensions have apparently started to escalate again lately. On Sept. 18, armed militants attacked a remote Indian Army base in Uri, near the Line of Control, killing 19 Indian soldiers in the deadliest attack on the Indian armed forces in decades. And on Sept. 29, two Pakistani soldiers were killed after clashes with Indian troops on the de facto border between the two countries.

The Kashmir conflicts have obviously come at huge cost for all parties involved. An official account has put the number of fatalities at 47,000.

Kashmir’s main separatist group, the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, however claims that nearly 100,000 people have died since the insurgency broke out in 1989.

Khawaja Muhammad Asif - Pakistan Foreign Minister (JP/Imanuddin Razak)

PREMIUM Border post: An entrance to the Pakistan side of the Pakistan-India border post in Wagah, a village situated in Lahore district, Punjab, Pakistan. The village has hosted daily flag-lowering ceremonies jointly held by the security forces of Pakistan and India since 1959.(JP/Imanuddin Razak)Seventy years after Pakistan’s independence, the smoldering Kashmir issue involving a border conflict with I...

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