Is Azad Kashmir justified

Conflict portrait: cashmere

After the attacks in Mumbai, India in November 2008, India and Pakistan resumed their peace talks on the disputed Kashmir region in February 2010. Even another terrorist attack in Mumbai in July 2011 did not stop this process.

Current situation

In the Kashmir Valley, unrest and attacks have been part of everyday life since the late 1980s, and waves of varying intensity hit the disputed territory between India and Pakistan with terror. After the death of a 17-year-old schoolboy in the summer of 2010 who got caught up in an argument between rioters and the police, the violence escalated again. The unrest has claimed over 100 lives since the summer of 2011.

But now the governments of India and Pakistan have returned to the negotiating table. A first step that can defuse the tense situation. But quick results with regard to the cashmere problem are not to be expected this time either. The positions of the two South Asian states are too different. While India is pushing for an end to the terror and suspecting Pakistan of supporting the terrorist groups, Pakistan is calling for a referendum on the future of the region, which the Indian side strictly rejects.

Causes and Background

India and Pakistan have been fighting for the former princely state since the division of the Indian subcontinent (1947). The colonial power Great Britain, which granted both states independence in August 1947, had divided them according to religious criteria. Areas inhabited by a majority of Hindus were given to India and those with a Muslim majority to Pakistan.

The geostrategically favorably located Kashmir is today divided between India, Pakistan and China. In the northeast it borders Afghanistan. It is almost the size of Great Britain with an area of ​​around 222,000 km². But the territorial dispute is only one dimension of a much more complex conflict. For Pakistan, the loss of a predominantly Muslim area poses a threat to its Islamic identity. The founding of the Pakistani state was justified primarily on the basis of religious and cultural arguments. For the Indian leadership, which is committed to the separation of state and religion, Kashmir was and is proof that people of all religions and cultures can find a home in India. The Kashmir conflict ultimately serves to legitimize both political systems. In addition, the conflict is exacerbated by economic, social and religious differences.

Since the 1990s, the conflict has escalated further, exacerbated by the war in Afghanistan and the increasing Islamization of Pakistan. The increased formation of Islamist associations in Kashmir has also contributed to this. These groups inflict terror on civilians and public institutions. The estimates amount to 43,000 fatalities from terrorist attacks and persecutions since 1988. [1] But to many observers, the number of unreported cases appears to be much higher.

Processing and solution approaches

Efforts to deal with the Kashmir conflict have been made over time. The UN took on the problem shortly after it was founded; the conflict has since become a constant topic on the agenda of the Security Council and the General Assembly. As early as January 1949, a UN observer mission (United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan - UNMOGIP) was dispatched to the disputed area to monitor compliance with the armistice. To date, however, UNMOGIP has not been able to prevent the wars between India and Pakistan. It is questionable whether the observer mission has any measurable influence at all, especially since it is rejected by India.

One of the first important proposals was drafted by the Australian judge and diplomat, Owen Dixon. The Dixon Plan of 1950 provided for the Indian-controlled areas of Jammu and Ladakh to remain with India, the Pakistani-controlled areas of Baltistan and Gilgit to be awarded to Pakistan and a referendum to be held on the Kashmir Valley. The plan failed because of the diametrical positions on both sides. While Pakistan would support a referendum in all of Kashmir, India is still fundamentally opposed to it. The Dixon Plan continues to have a political impact today and is present among the people of Kashmir because of its concise analysis and the clarity of the proposed solutions.

Other approaches, such as the consideration of converting the ceasefire line (Line of Control) into an international border and thus into an Indian-Pakistani state border, would also be supported by the United States, the People's Republic of China and the United Nations. However, both Pakistan and India claim the entire Kashmir area. In addition, the Indian Union has called the Line of Control illegal. Therefore, this approach cannot be implemented in the near future either.

History of the conflict

During their colonial rule, the British had divided the inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent according to the principle of "divide and rule" mainly according to their religious affiliation. In doing so, they wanted to counteract the formation of a unified identity in order to remove the basis for a common struggle for independence of all religious communities. With this policy they created the conditions for the later partition of British India. From a purely legal point of view, the more than 500 principalities that existed at the time of the division should each have been granted independence. But the Indian government more or less non-violently got the principalities to join the Indian Union.

In the Principality of Kashmir, however, the circumstances were different. Here the Hindu prince, Maharajah Hari Singh, ruled over a Muslim majority. Unlike most other princely states, the size of its territory would have made it possible to form its own viable and independent state. But neither Pakistan nor India wanted to accept that.

When Pakistani militants entered Kashmir by force in the autumn of 1947, the Maharajah asked India for military aid, which was only granted after signing a certificate of accession to the Indian Union. These developments led to the first Indo-Pakistani War (1947-1949), which ended with the partition of Kashmir and a ceasefire under UN surveillance. In 1965 and 1971 further wars were fought between the two states.

Since the first Kashmir war, the territory has been divided by the Line of Control. India administers the larger and more important part with the state of Jammu and Kashmir, while Pakistan controls the smaller part with Azad Kashmir and the Northern Territories. There is also an area that has been under Chinese control since the Indo-Chinese War of 1962.

To this day, the Kashmir conflict is additionally burdened by complex constitutional, international and human rights problems. In particular, the lack of self-determination of the Kashmiri people and the ongoing human rights violations in the region repeatedly contribute to fueling the conflict.

After the tensions in connection with the attacks by Islamist terrorists from Pakistan in Mumbai and other Indian cities in autumn 2008, the signs for an understanding now seem more favorable. But despite the resumption of the peace talks between India and Pakistan, a quick and, above all, permanent solution to the conflict is not in sight for the time being. At least there are signs that both sides are interested in closer coordination and cooperation. Important areas are the fight against Islamist terrorism and the expansion of trade and economic relations. The fact that the peace talks might have a greater chance of success than in previous years and decades is indicated by the fact that they were not broken off despite another attack by presumably Islamist terrorists in Mumbai in July 2011.


Ali, Tariq / Bhatt, Hilal / Chatterji, Angana P. et al. (Eds.) (2011): Kashmir: The Case for Freedom, London: Verso.

Hoff, Henning (2011): Higher than mountains, deeper than oceans? Pakistan tries to play the "Chinese card": the start of a new "Asian power play" or a solution at the end, in: Internationale Politik Vol. 4, July / August 2011, pp. 128-131.

Rösel, Jakob (1999): The emergence of the Kashmir conflict, in: Draguhn, Werner (Ed.): India 1999. Politics, economy, society, Hamburg: Institute for Asian Studies, pp. 155-169.

Rösel, Jakob (2003): Can the Kashmir conflict be resolved? In: Meyer, Günter / Pütz, Robert / Thimm, Andreas (eds.): Terrorism and Third World. Publications of the Interdisciplinary Working Group Third World, Volume 16, Mainz, pp. 19-35.

Schoefield, Victoria (2010): Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the uending War, London: I.B. Tauris.

Rothermund, Dietmar (2002): Kashmir hot spot: The conflict between the nuclear powers India and Pakistan, Munich: Beck.


"Studies and research papers of the Science and Politics Foundation"

»South Asia Info«

"UNMOGIP - United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan"


»South Asia Terrorism Portal. On-line. Accessed August 22, 2011. "

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To person

Katja Schubert

Katja Schubert, M.A. works as a research assistant at the Chair for International Politics and Development Cooperation at the Institute for Political and Administrative Sciences at the University of Rostock. Research focus is South Asia. She is currently doing her PhD on geostrategic interests in the Indian Ocean.

To person

Prof. Dr. Jakob Rösel

Prof. Dr. Jakob Rösel, born in 1948; Studied political science, sociology and ethnology at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg; Doctorate in 1976, habilitation in 1994, holder of the chair for international politics and development cooperation at the University of Rostock. The focus of research is on EU integration, democratization processes and ethnic and nationalist conflicts in the Third World and particularly in South Asia.