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Kashmir issue

  • Category
    India & world
  • Published
    6th Aug, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought mediation in Kashmir when they met during the G-20 summit in Osaka.

Issue

Context

U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought mediation in Kashmir when they met during the G-20 summit in Osaka.

About

Back-story on the U.S. offer of mediation

  • In 1993, the new administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton decided to wade into the Kashmir issue, indicating repeatedly that it wished to mediate between India and Pakistan.
  • At the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Clinton referred to resolving “civil wars from Angola to the Caucasus to Kashmir,” and a month later, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State questioned the validity of Kashmir’s ‘Instrument of Accession’ during a press briefing.
  • India has always opposed any suggestion of third-party mediation on Jammu and Kashmir; both the 1972 Shimla Agreement and the 1999 Lahore declaration included India’s and Pakistan’s commitment to resolving issues between them.

Why does India refrain from taking help?

  • Attempts have worked for diffusing tensions, or calling off hostilities at the Line of Control and the International Border, but not in terms of their rival claims over Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Another reason is that India sees itself as a regional leader, and does not require any assistance in sorting out its issues with other regional countries.
  • The widespread belief is that mediation favours the weaker party by levelling the playing field, and with its stronger conventional and non-conventional military prowess, India has seen no significant gain from bringing a third-party into its 70-year-old conflict with Pakistan.
  • After winning the war with Pakistan that saw the creation of Bangladesh, India, in 1972, negotiated the Simla Agreement, which did away with any idea of future mediation between the two countries.
  • According to the Agreement signed in 1972 by Indira Gandhi and by then President Bhutto, the two countries “resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them”.
  • In February 1999, the Lahore declaration signed by Nawaz Sharif and Atal Behari Vajpayee also affirmed the bilateral nature of issues and their resolution.
  • These bilateral efforts are at an end at present, and little has moved since the last negotiations on Kashmir in 2003-2008, when Indian and Pakistani negotiators discussed the four-step formula.
  • India has maintained its opposition to third-party mediation, however, and despite offers from several leaders including South African President Nelson Mandela, UN Chief António Guterres, and more recently, the Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg all the above proposals were rejected.

What about the U.S.?

  • A particularly bitter episode for India came from mediation attempts by the U.S. and the U.K. after the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
  • The U.S. had provided India with planes and military hardware during the war and the price was that India should agree to mediate talks with Pakistan on Kashmir.
  • The mediation was accepted because Nehru was in shock after the defeat to China, and the U.S. made it clear that any further military assistance was contingent on India’s cooperation on Kashmir talks.
  • The day war ended, a team of 24 American negotiators headed to India, to bring India to the table for six rounds of talks between Foreign Ministers. Eventually, however as India regained its confidence, the talks floundered, and ended in 1963 after Nehru made it clear that India would never give up the Kashmir Valley.

Simla Agreement, 1972

  • The Simla Agreement signed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan on 2nd July 1972 was much more than a peace treaty seeking to reverse the consequences of the 1971 war.
  • It was a comprehensive blue print for good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan.
  • Under the Simla Agreement both countries undertook to abjure conflict and confrontation which had marred relations in the past, and to work towards the establishment of durable peace, friendship and cooperation.
  • The Simla Agreement contains a set of guiding principles, mutually agreed to by India and Pakistan, which both sides would adhere to while managing relations with each other. These emphasize: respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; non-interference in each other’s internal affairs; respect for each other’s unity, political independence; sovereign equality; and abjuring hostile propaganda.
  • The following principles of the Agreement are, however, particularly noteworthy:
  • A mutual commitment to the peaceful resolution of all issues through direct bilateral approaches.
  • To build the foundations of a cooperative relationship with special focus on people to people contacts.
  • To uphold the inviolability of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, which is a most important CBM between India and Pakistan, and a key to durable peace

Lahore Declaration, 1999

  • Shall intensify their efforts to resolve all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Shall refrain from intervention and interference in each other's internal affairs.
  • Shall intensify their composite and integrated dialogue process for an early and positive outcome of the agreed bilateral agenda.
  • Shall take immediate steps for reducing the risk of accidental or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons and discuss concepts and doctrines with a view to elaborating measures for confidence building in the nuclear and conventional fields, aimed at prevention of conflict.
  • Reaffirm their commitment to the goals and objectives of SAARC and to concert their efforts towards the realisation of the SAARC vision for the year 2000 and beyond with a view to promoting the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life through accelerated economic growth, social progress and cultural development.
  • Reaffirm their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and their determination to combat this menace.
  • Shall promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

A brief history of the Kashmir conflict

  • The Kashmir issue has caused tension and conflict in the Indian subcontinent since 1947, when independence from Britain created India and Pakistan as two sovereign states.
  • Jammu and Kashmir – the full name of the princely Himalayan state, then ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh – acceded to India in 1947, seeking military support after tribal raids from Pakistan into the state’s territory.
  • In theory, these princely states had the option of deciding which country to join, or of remaining independent. In practice, the restive population of each province proved decisive.
  • The people had been fighting for freedom from British rule, and with their struggle about to bear fruit they were not willing to let the princes fill the vacuum.
  • Because of its location, Kashmir could choose to join either India or Pakistan. Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir, was Hindu while most of his subjects were Muslim. Unable to decide which nation Kashmir should join, Hari Singh chose to remain neutral.
  • But his hopes of remaining independent were dashed in October 1947, as Pakistan sent in Muslim tribesmen who were knocking at the gates of the capital Srinagar.
  • Hari Singh appealed to the Indian government for military assistance and fled to India. He signed the Instrument of Accession, ceding Kashmir to India on October 26.
  • The two countries have fought three wars over the region since.
  • The ceasefire was intended to be temporary but the Line of Control remains the de facto border between the two countries.
  • In 1957, Kashmir was formally incorporated into the Indian Union. It was granted a special status under Article 370 of India's constitution, which ensures, among other things, that non-Kashmiri Indians cannot buy property there.

Ending the conflict

  • Tensions in Kashmir may have subsided, but the root causes of the violence there have not.
  • In my assessment, the Kashmir dispute cannot be resolved bilaterally by India and Pakistan alone even if the two countries were willing to work together to resolve their differences.
  • This is because the conflict has many sides: India, Pakistan, the five regions of Kashmir and numerous political organizations.
  • Establishing peace in the region would require both India and Pakistan to reconcile the multiple and sometimes conflicting aspirations of the diverse peoples of this region.
  • Only when local aspirations are recognized, addressed and debated alongside India and Pakistan’s nationalist and strategic goals will a durable solution emerge to one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.

Learning Aid

Practice Question:

Recently, USA has violated diplomatic protocols by trying to intervene in the Kashmir issue. Explain in the context of Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration?

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