Beyond Violence 
close

Indian-Pakistan


get involved forum email petition donate

Three of the four wars fought between India and Pakistan since the partition of 1947 have been directly related to control over the territory of Kashmir. The conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir is an interstate conflict, where India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir as a part of their respective country. Although the conflict has been characterized by high levels of tension and outright hostilities throughout the decades, dialogue between the two parties and an expressed willingness to establish and maintain a ceasefire began in the 2000s. While this lull in fighting has been disturbed by occasional skirmishes that have caused fatalities on both sides, the conflict has been largely inactive since 2013.

Indian-Pakistan

► Overview

Three of the four wars fought between India and Pakistan since the partition of 1947 have been directly related to control over the territory of Kashmir. The conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir is an interstate conflict, where India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir as a part of their respective country.1 Although the conflict has been characterized by high levels of tension and outright hostilities throughout the decades, dialogue between the two parties and an expressed willingness to establish and maintain a ceasefire began in the 2000s. While this lull in fighting has been disturbed by occasional skirmishes that have caused fatalities on both sides, the conflict has been largely inactive since 2013.

Indo-Pakistani war of 1947, the First Kashmir war

The conflict between India and Pakistan has its origin in the state's disputed accession to India following the turbulent partition of the subcontinent. Following Britain's departure in August 1947, both India and Pakistan stated their desire for the strategically important Kashmir territory. For both India and Pakistan, emerging national identities were an important part of the rationalization behind their desire to control Kashmir. Pakistan, formed on the basis of Muslim demands for a separate state, saw the predominantly Muslim Kashmir as a natural part of its territory. For India, the inclusion of predominantly Muslim Kashmir strengthens its claims of being a secular state.2 For the Kashmiri ruler at the time, Maharajah Hari Singh, the preferred option was Kashmir's own independence. However, a tribal invasion from Pakistan and an uprising in Western Kashmir forced Maharajah to request military assistance from India, leading to Kashmir's accession to that state. The UN was invited by the Indian government to settle the dispute resulting in UN Security Council Resolution 47 on April 1948.3 Following UN mediation, in December 1948, the Line of Control (LoC) divided Kashmir into territories administered by Pakistan (northern and western areas) and by India (southern, central and northeastern areas), with a UN monitoring mission along the line. This cease-fire line was originally referred to as a temporary solution of Kashmir's accession to India and has since effectively defined the de facto borders of Kashmir.

Renewed war in 1965 and 1971, and developments in the 1980s

The dispute over Kashmir again escalated into armed conflict in 1964-1965, triggered by the infiltration of Pakistani controlled guerrillas into Indian-held Kashmir. In 1971, fighting between the two states erupted again, this time in connection to the conflict between East Pakistan under Sheikh Mujib and West Pakistan under Yahya-Bhutto, which eventually led to the creation of Bangladesh.4 Following the atrocities in Bangladesh in 1971, approximately 10 million Bengalis in East Pakistan took refuge in India. During the 1971 war, the position of the Line of Control dividing the Indian and Pakistani controlled sections of Kashmir shifted. However, in July 1972, the parties signed an agreement confirming a new ceasefire line, but disagreements arose regarding the continued mandate of UNMOGIP (the UN mission monitoring the LoC). While Pakistan embraced UNMOGIP's continued presence, India argued its mandate had ended following the adjustment of the Line of Control.5

In the early 1980s, Indo-Pakistani relations worsened following a dispute over the Siachen glacier. The heart of the dispute lies with the inadequate demarcation of the Line of Control in this geographically inhospitable area. Both countries deployed troops on the glacier. This gave rise to a series of military encounters between the two countries during the 1980s, escalating into a minor armed conflict in 1984 and 1987. These tensions were further exacerbated by allegations of Pakistani support to the Sikh insurgency facing the Indian government. Another added tension at this time concerned the risk of a nuclear confrontation between the two states, as both were reported to have developed nuclear weapon capacities by the mid-1980s. However, that tension subsided when in 1988, India and Pakistan signed the first agreement regulating interstate relations in 16 years, agreeing to remove the other’s nuclears installations as military targets. Despite of reports of sporadic fighting, India and Pakistan agreed on the draft of a peace settlement for Kashmir in 1989.

The 1990s: Nuclear arms race and the Kargil War

Interstate tension again intensified during the 1990s as India accused Pakistan of both orchestrating and fanning the territorial insurgencies in Kashmir and Punjab. In early 1999, both Kashmiri Mujahidin insurgents as well as Pakistani troops crossed the Line of Control and occupied part of the Indian territory, mainly the Kargil district. Fearing a third Indian-Pakistani war over Kashmir, the UN and USA engaged in intense diplomatic activity to calm the situation. In June, India announced it was moving its troops back from the border and delegations from the two countries met in Islamabad. By the end of July 1999, hostilities in the district of Kargil ceased. However, occasional clashes continued over the next several years.6

1Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Retrieved 20/06/14, UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia: http://www.ucdp.uu.se/gpdatabase/gpcountry.php?id=127®ionSelect=11-Oceania# , Uppsala University
2Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Retrieved 20/06/14, UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia: http://www.ucdp.uu.se/gpdatabase/gpcountry.php?id=127®ionSelect=11-Oceania# , Uppsala University
3Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Retrieved 20/06/14, UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia: http://www.ucdp.uu.se/gpdatabase/gpcountry.php?id=127®ionSelect=11-Oceania# , Uppsala University
4Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Retrieved 20/06/14, UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia: http://www.ucdp.uu.se/gpdatabase/gpcountry.php?id=127®ionSelect=11-Oceania# , Uppsala University
5Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Retrieved 20/06/14, UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia: http://www.ucdp.uu.se/gpdatabase/gpcountry.php?id=127®ionSelect=11-Oceania# , Uppsala University
6Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Retrieved 20/06/14, UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia: http://www.ucdp.uu.se/gpdatabase/gpcountry.php?id=127®ionSelect=11-Oceania# , Uppsala University

► Key issues

Dispute over territory

The core of the incompatibility concerns the unsettled issue of the territory of Kashmir. The conflict has its origin in the state’s disputed accession to India following the turbulent partition of the subcontinent in 1947. After the British rule ended, a new state was created: the Dominion of Pakistan and successor state to British India and the Union of India, while British rule over 562 Indian princely states ended. According to the Indian Independence Act of 1947, the states that were under British rule were left to choose whether to join India or Pakistan, or to remain independent. Jammu and Kashmir, the largest state of the princely states, already had a predominantly Muslim population, while having a Hindu ruler. Therefore on partition, both states had expectations of Kashmir’s fate.7

Local autonomy

The conflict between Kashmiri insurgents and the Indian Government stems from disputes over local autonomy of Kashmir. The process of developing a democracy in Kashmir was limited in the 1970s and by the 1980s many democratic reforms that were implemented by the Government of India were reversed and overturned. Given the grievances experienced by the population of Kashmir, support for insurgents advocating violent secession increased by the end of 1980s.

Dispute over water

Water scarcity is another point of dispute in Kashmir. The region of Kashmir serves as the origin for many rivers and bodies of water, including the Indus River basin. This river basin was divided between Pakistan (60% of the catchment area), India (20% of the catchment area), China (15% of the catchment area) and Afghanistan (5% of the catchment area), sustaining communities in several countries. With the establishment of Line of Control, it was decided that India would have control over the upper riparian and Pakistan would have control over the lower riparian of Indus and its tributaries. The Indus Water treaty was signed by both countries in 1960 in order to put a stop to the disputes over water. India maintains that they no longer this as an issue and that they are not willing to break the established regulations. Although the Kashmir dispute may seem to be an entirely separate issue from the water dispute, it has become an obstacle in attempts to built a relationship or arrive at a conflict resolution between these two countries.

7 Revised Statute from The UK Statute Law Database: India Independence Act 1947: Retrieved 06/07/14 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/10-11/30

► Key actors


The key actors who are involved in this conflict are the governments of India and Pakistan.

Government of Pakistan
Pakistan holds the view that the status of Kashmir should ultimately be decided via a referendum votes under UN auspices, as was originally agreed upon by India in 1949 in settlement mediated by the UN. Pakistan, itself formed on the basis of Muslim demands for a separate state, sees the predominantly Muslim Kashmir as a natural part of its territory.

Government of India
India argues that the option to hold a referendum is now obsolete and would be difficult to implement. India claims that “self determination” in the context of a pluralistic state like India can only mean “internal self-government within the overall constitutional framework”.8

Kashmiri insurgent groups
Some of these insurgents favour Kashmiri accession to India while others favour the complete independence of Kashmir.9 This has led to armed violence on Indian territory since 2002, both between insurgent groups and between insurgents and the Government of India.

8 Revised Statute from The UK Statute Law Database: India Independence Act 1947: Retrieved 06/07/14 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/10-11/30
9 Social Studies S5 Ab. Pearson Education. p. 70.

► Violence

According to the UCDP dataset on the conflict between India and Pakistan, it is difficult to set a date for the first battle related deaths in the India-Pakistan conflict, as the records relating to the early phase of the conflict are controversial. Of all the conflicts that have taken place between India and Pakistan, the highest number of casualties and the highest number of prisoners of war, more than 90 000, came from the 1971 India-Pakistan conflict.

The Kargil war claimed over 1000 lives and forced 70 000 to flee from the area.
Overall, the partition has caused between 200 000 and 360 000 deaths, while 10 to 12 million people have been displaced. Between 1971 and 2008, both India and Pakistan lost roughly 13 000 lives over Kashmir. The insurgencies that started at the end of 1989 caused the loss of an additional 30 000 lives while the death toll in the India-administered part of Kashmir surpassed 100 000 during the 1990s.10

10 Blog, Insight on conflict, retrieved on 04.07.14: http://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/pakistan/conflict-profile/

► Prospects for non-violent peace transformation

Although both parties continually reaffirm their commitment to dialogue and peaceful relations, continuing dialogues have resulted in little substantive change throughout the decades. Despite sporadic firing across the Line of Control in recent years, both parties have expressed a commitment to maintaining the ceasefire. Dialogue was hindered, however, by domestic political upheaval in Pakistan and by the political fall-out of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which India claimed were perpetrated by Pakistani members of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Confidence building measures to which both parties have committed are a crucial element in any attempt to find a sustainable conflict resolution. Small community-based attempts, such as restarting the bus service between India and Pakistan, co-operation on the economic front, etc., can serve as mutual attempts to defuse long lasting tensions.

In order to attain a sustainable conflict transformation, recognition of the human rihts violations perpetrated by both sides must occur. A transitional justice approach is needed, but would require significant support and participation from regional actors.

Finally, a mutually agreed division of the region’s natural resources as well as preservation of those said resources is a also crucial ingredient in developing space for non-violent conflict transformation. Cooperation regarding issues important for sustaining both countries’ economic development could provide a first step in this process.

► Further reading