Kashmir - The Unanswered Question

Vernon Hewitt on one of the bitterest legacies of partition.

Bridge in Srinagar

Few commentators in 1947 would have predicted that the Kashmir dispute would remain unsolved and seemingly irresolvable. The official position of both India and Pakistan remains that of each laying claim to the former Dogra Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir in its entirety, despite border adjustments between China and Pakistan, and despite the 1972 Simla Accord which implicitly recognised the partition of the former Princely State between the two successor states of the British Raj. Pakistan still refuses to believe that the signing of the Instrument of Accession by Maharaja Hari Singh in October 1947 legitimises India's 'occupation' of the area, while the Indians refuse to recognise Pakistan's control of the area known as 'Azad' Kashmir, and that the Northern Territories of Hunza and Gilgit give the state any locus standi in the dispute at all.

Since the late 1980s, the Kashmir problem has been complicated by a serious outbreak of political unrest within Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir, and the growth of a pan-Kashmiri identity, which has spawned a whole series of political and militant groups demanding a separate, sovereign state of Jammu and Kashmir. Some of these call for an independent Islamic state, some for the creation of a secular republic. Yet like their pro- Indian and pro-Pakistani counterparts, these groups define their future sovereign state on the territorial outlines of the former Dogra kingdom without adjustments, and without seemingly recognising the cultural and social diversity of the present territory.

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