Created: Wednesday, 30 July 2014 13:23
Written by Joy Bose
The struggle for Kashmiri independence is central to Indian and Pakistani politics and the conflict between the two nations. Both countries claim Kashmir as their own, with no regard to the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Its partition in 1947 was the inevitable outcome of the manoeuvres of British imperialism in the first half the last century as it attempted to split the Indian independence movement along religious lines. Today, two-thirds of the 10 million population of Indian-occupied Kashmir are Muslims.
When the British left India in 1947, 77% of Kashmiris were Muslims, but its ruler was the Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh. At the time of independence India was to be divided into two states, with Muslim-majority regions going to Pakistan. Accordingly Pakistan claimed Kashmir, but Singh was reluctant to accede. To put pressure on him, Pakistan launched a guerrilla invasion, only to drive him into Indian hands. The arrival of the Indian army in Kashmir led to the India-Pakistan war of 1948, ending in a UN-sponsored ceasefire agreement, the demarcation of a line of control between India and Pakistan and since then, de-facto partition. The UN resolution included a promise to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir about its future, which Nehru and subsequent rulers of India ignored. The unresolved situation has led to three further wars between India and Pakistan: 1965, 1971 (mainly over Bangladesh but also involving Kashmir) and 1999.
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