One of the worse violence has broke out recently in Kashmir, a region being contested by Pakistan and India, but I have heard many Kashmir twitter friends tell me, while they are more friendly towards Pakistan, because of shared religion, being Islam, they actually prefer Kashmir, becomes an independent country.
I asked several of them, does most people in Kashmir feel that way & they said much of the people there, feel this way. I asked them have there been any poll on the Kashmir people & they told me, they are not aware of any polling of the people there.
After the latest violence, interest in the region picked up again, & many of my twitter friends are very confused what is going on. My favorite place to find out what is going on is wikipedia. So the following is from wikipedia on Kashmir.
Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term “Kashmir” denoted only the Kashmir Valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range. Today, it denotes a larger area that includes the Indian-administered territory of Jammu and Kashmir (subdivided into Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh divisions), the Pakistani-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and Chinese-administered territories of Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract.
In the first half of the 1st millennium, the Kashmir region became an important centre of Hinduism and later of Buddhism; later still, in the ninth century, Kashmir Shaivism arose. In 1339, Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, inaugurating the Salatin-i-Kashmir or Swati dynasty. Kashmir was part of the Mughal Empire from 1586 to 1751, and thereafter, until 1820, of the Afghan Durrani Empire.That year, the Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, annexed Kashmir. In 1846, after the Sikh defeat in the First Anglo-Sikh War, and upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, became the new ruler of Kashmir. The rule of his descendants, under the paramountcy (or tutelage) of the British Crown, lasted until 1947, when the former princely state of the British Indian Empire became a disputed territory, now administered by three countries: India, Pakistan, and China.
In the British census of India of 1941, Kashmir registered a Muslim majority population of 77%, a Hindu population of 20% and a sparse population of Buddhists and Sikhs comprising the remaining 3%. That same year, Prem Nath Bazaz, a Kashmiri Pandit journalist wrote: “The poverty of the Muslim masses is appalling. … Most are landless laborers, working as serfs for absentee [Hindu] landlords … Almost the whole brunt of official corruption is borne by the Muslim masses.” Under the Hindu rule, Muslims faced hefty taxation, discrimination in the legal system and were forced into labor without any wages. Conditions in the princely state caused a significant migration of people from the Kashmir Valley to Punjab of British India. For almost a century until the census, a small Hindu elite had ruled over a vast and impoverished Muslim peasantry. Driven into docility by chronic indebtedness to landords and moneylenders, having no education besides, nor awareness of rights, the Muslim peasants had no political representation until the 1930s.
1947 and 1948
Ranbir Singh’s grandson Hari Singh, who had ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1925, was the reigning monarch in 1947 at the conclusion of British rule of the subcontinent and the subsequent partition of the British Indian Empire into the newly independent Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan.
In the run up to 1947 there were two major parties in the princely state: the National Conference and the Muslim Conference. The National Conference was led by the charismatic Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah who titled towards favouring the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India whilst the Muslim Conference tilted towards favouring the accession of the princely state to Pakistan. The National Conference enjoyed popular support in the Kashmir Valley whilst the Muslim Conference was more popular in the Jammu region. The Hindus and Sikhs of the state were firmly in favour of joining India, as were the Buddhists. However, the sentiments of the state’s Muslim population were divided. Scholar Christopher Snedden states that the Muslims of Western Jammu, and also the Muslims of the Frontier Districts Province, strongly wanted Jammu and Kashmir to join Pakistan. The ethnic Kashmiri Muslims of the Kashmir Valley, on the other hand, were ambivalent about Pakistan (possibly due to their secular nature) although Snedden claims that the best-informed English language newspaper on the state’s affairs, the CMG, reported on 21 October 1947 that there had been a massive upsurge in favour of Pakistan in the southern section of the Kashmir Valley-which was the stronghold of the socialist Kisan Mazdoor Conference party led by Kashmiri Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz. Conversely, The Times reported that Sheikh Abdullah‘s influence in Srinagar was ‘paramount’. The fact that Kashmiris were not particularly enamoured with the idea of Pakistan reflected the failure of the idea of Pan-Islamic identity in satisfying the political urges of Kashmiris. At the same time there was also a lack of interest in merging with Indian nationalism.
According to Burton Stein‘s History of India,
“Kashmir was neither as large nor as old an independent state as Hyderabad; it had been created rather off-handedly by the British after the first defeat of the Sikhs in 1846, as a reward to a former official who had sided with the British. The Himalayan kingdom was connected to India through a district of the Punjab, but its population was 77 per cent Muslim and it shared a boundary with Pakistan. Hence, it was anticipated that the maharaja would accede to Pakistan when the British paramountcy ended on 14–15 August. When he hesitated to do this, Pakistan launched a guerrilla onslaught meant to frighten its ruler into submission. Instead the Maharaja appealed to Mountbatten for assistance, and the governor-general agreed on the condition that the ruler accede to India. Indian soldiers entered Kashmir and drove the Pakistani-sponsored irregulars from all but a small section of the state. The United Nations was then invited to mediate the quarrel. The UN mission insisted that the opinion of Kashmiris must be ascertained, while India insisted that no referendum could occur until all of the state had been cleared of irregulars.”
In the last days of 1948, a ceasefire was agreed under UN auspices. However, since the plebiscite demanded by the UN was never conducted, relations between India and Pakistan soured, and eventually led to two more wars over Kashmir in 1965 and 1999. India has control of about half the area of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, while Pakistan controls a third of the region, the Northern Areas and Kashmir. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, “Although there was a clear Muslim majority in Kashmir before the 1947 partition and its economic, cultural, and geographic contiguity with the Muslim-majority area of the Punjab (in Pakistan) could be convincingly demonstrated, the political developments during and after the partition resulted in a division of the region. Pakistan was left with territory that, although basically Muslim in character, was thinly populated, relatively inaccessible, and economically underdeveloped. The largest Muslim group, situated in the Valley of Kashmir and estimated to number more than half the population of the entire region, lay in Indian-administered territory, with its former outlets via the Jhelum valley route blocked.”
The eastern region of the former princely state of Kashmir is also involved in a boundary dispute that began in the late 19th century and continues into the 21st. Although some boundary agreements were signed between Great Britain, Afghanistan and Russia over the northern borders of Kashmir, China never accepted these agreements, and China’s official position has not changed following the communist revolution of 1949 that established the People’s Republic of China. By the mid-1950s the Chinese army had entered the north-east portion of Ladakh.
- “By 1956–57 they had completed a military road through the Aksai Chin area to provide better communication between Xinjiang and western Tibet. India’s belated discovery of this road led to border clashes between the two countries that culminated in the Sino-Indian war of October 1962.”
The region is divided amongst three countries in a territorial dispute: Pakistan controls the northwest portion (Northern Areas and Kashmir), India controls the central and southern portion (Jammu and Kashmir) and Ladakh, and the People’s Republic of China controls the northeastern portion (Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract). India controls the majority of the Siachen Glacier area, including the Saltoro Ridge passes, whilst Pakistan controls the lower territory just southwest of the Saltoro Ridge. India controls 101,338 km2 (39,127 sq mi) of the disputed territory, Pakistan controls 85,846 km2 (33,145 sq mi), and the People’s Republic of China controls the remaining 37,555 km2(14,500 sq mi).
Jammu and Azad Kashmir lie outside Pir Panjal range, and are under Indian and Pakistani control respectively. These are populous regions. The main cities are Mirpur, Dadayal, Kotli, Bhimber, Jammu, Muzaffarabad and Rawalakot. Gilgit–Baltistan, formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a group of territories in the extreme north, bordered by the Karakoram, the western Himalayas, the Pamir, and the Hindu Kush ranges. With its administrative centre in the town of Gilgit, the Northern Areas cover an area of 72,971 square kilometres (28,174 sq mi) and have an estimated population approaching 1 million (10 lakhs). The other main city is Skardu.
Ladakh is a region in the east, between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south. Main cities are Leh and Kargil. It is under Indian administration and is part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in the area and is mainly inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. Aksai Chin is a vast high-altitude desert of salt that reaches altitudes up to 5,000 metres (16,000 ft). Geographically part of the Tibetan Plateau, Aksai Chin is referred to as the Soda Plain. The region is almost uninhabited, and has no permanent settlements.
Though these regions are in practice administered by their respective claimants, neither India nor Pakistan has formally recognised the accession of the areas claimed by the other. India claims those areas, including the area “ceded” to China by Pakistan in the Trans-Karakoram Tract in 1963, are a part of its territory, while Pakistan claims the entire region excluding Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract. The two countries have fought several declared wars over the territory. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 established the rough boundaries of today, with Pakistan holding roughly one-third of Kashmir, and India one-half, with a dividing line of control established by the United Nations. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 resulted in a stalemate and a UN-negotiated ceasefire.