The Independent Kashmir option in the India vs Pakistan context, has long been on the cards but has recently gained momentum after the United States surrendered control of South Asia to India and China.
China is Pakistan’s last hope of a credible guarantor who can enforce agreements signed between the behemoth India and the nuisance Pakistan.
So, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Kashmir Conflict Brief
Kashmir is a land dispute between India and Pakistan that was left unresolved by the colonial British in 1947. No country felt the need to antagonize powerful India over tiny Pakistan.
Kashmir is also a political dispute because India refuses to let go of a Muslim majority state
So, there have been up till now three full-fledged wars and several mini skirmishes between the two countries.
India has in its possession 55% of Kashmir’s territory and 70% of the Muslim population as well. The land area includes the cup-shaped Kashmir Valley, Jammu, Ladakh, and Siachen Glacier.
Pakistan has in its possession 30% of the landmass including Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Finally, India believes China has the remaining 15% landmass including the Aksai Chin region further East.
A Smaller Independent Kashmir Option, combining Azad and Valley of Kashmir, seems to be the only doable solution to this India Pakistan Dispute. The original injury of occupying Kashmir by India has nearly consumed Pakistan in its festering and has kept Indian growth retarded.
Forcing any other solution, including the Status Quo option will not go down well with the political forces in Pakistan.
Why is Kashmir so Important to Pakistan?
At a political level, Pakistan’s existence came about based on a political movement of separating Hindu majority and Muslim majority lands. Kashmir is the only Muslim majority region that is still with India and that too by force.
At an economical Level, Pakistan’s Indus Valley has always been fed by the five Rivers that come through Kashmir. Without water, there will be no breadbasket to fill.
Rivers Flowing into Pakistan from Indian Held Kashmir
- India has already dried out four of the five rivers coming into Pakistan. Only the Indus River high in the mountains of Kargil still flows into Pakistan freely mostly because it is difficult to dam high in the mountains.
- From a security standpoint, without Kashmir, Pakistan’s Himalayan foothills will always be vulnerable to Indian forces outflanking them from the North.
- From a Geostrategic point of view, Without Kashmir and specifically Gilgit Baltistan, there will be no CPEC and Linkages to Central Asia – Pakistan’s main trump card.
- From a Strategic Point of view, Pakistan will lose influence in countries on the Northern rim of India like Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.
- Pakistan’s energy resource is Hydel power, and most of that lies in Kashmir
- Pakistan’s Reason for Existence would be incomplete with Indian soldiers oppressing the Muslim Kashmiri people.
“If Kashmir should accede to India, Pakistan might as well… cease to exist as an independent State” – Zafarullah Khan, Pakistan’s First Foreign Minister
Kashmir History before India Pakistan Conflict
- Kashmir’s history was mostly syncretic with mixed religions and beliefs up to 1200 AD
- The Sufis came around after 1200 AD
- Then Muslim “Mir” arrived in 1339 AD and Kashmiris converted to Islam in large numbers.
- The Muslim Mughals took over in 1586 AD
- Then Afghan Durrani Muslims in 1752 -1819
- That was followed by the British and their vassals the Sikh up to 1846
- Colonial British then handed over Kashmir to another of their loyal servant the Hindu Dogra dynasty starting from Gulab Singh that remained in power till independence 1947
The Hindu Dogra rule was very oppressive in their taxation and discriminatory towards Muslim subjects.
Dogra knew their power came from Colonial British, and their ability to tax their poor subjects – not from the people.
The British had also bound their vassal Dogra to ensure a steady supply of recruits for the British in the first and second world wars from Kashmir.
Yesterday’s oppressed Muslim peasants of Kashmir suddenly became trained fighters and formed the core troops that back the Dogra army in 1947, out of Pakistan Administered Kashmir.
India Pakistan Wars and Conflicts over Kashmir
- India Pakistan Kashmir war 1948 – The result was a cease-fire and Pakistan got Gilgit Baltistan and a crescent of a territory called Azad Kashmir
- India Pakistan Kashmir War 1965 – Pakistan couldn’t achieve the military objective of severing Kashmir’s only road link.
- India Pakistan Kashmir war 1971 – Pakistan lost strategic Haji Pir pass in Kashmir
- India Pakistan Insurgency war decade of 1990 – Pakistan managed to give a new-found confidence to the people of Kashmir that freedom could be won by force.
- India Pakistan Asymmetric attacks in the decade of 2010 – Uri and Pulwama attacks on India troops by Kashmiri rebels
- India Pakistan War 2019 due to killings of 40 CRPF Indian Soldiers at Pulwama Indian Kashmir
- India Pakistan War Uri 2016 in which 12 troops of the Indian Army were killed at the border.
Independent Kashmir News
Pakistan’s Prime minister Imran Khan in his UN speech called out India’s Hindu Extremist BJP government as a sponsor of Muslim hate around the world, with Indian Held Kashmir bearing the brunt.
What are the various proposals on Kashmir?
There have been several proposals on Kashmir like:-
Independent Kashmir Option where all goes to Pakistan.
The complete territory of 0.22 million Sq. Km goes to Pakistan; Pakistan already has 40K kilometres. China has 5K Kilometres which is irrelevant in the Indian and Pakistani context
Kashmir Option where all goes to India.
The complete territory goes to India
Kashmir Option: Distribution Kashmir along the Chenab River.
Chenab formula where Valley and some parts of Jammu go to Pakistan
Status Quo converting Line of Control (LOC) to an international border
Larger Independent Kashmir Option
Independent Kashmir map with Srinagar Valley, Azad Kashmir, and Gilgit Baltistan included
Smaller Independent Kashmir Option
None of these proposals could be moved off the ground because India didn’t feel answerable to the UN or the USA. India thought they had possession of most of Kashmir territory anyways.
What is the proposal of Independent Kashmir?
The Independent Kashmir formula says that:-
- All the former princely state of Kashmir is vacated by Security Forces and Army called demilitarization; Gilgit Baltistan, Valley, Jammu, Ladakh to make it an independent country.
Is the Independent Kashmir formula in the long term interest of Pakistan?
No, the Independent Kashmir proposal does not satisfy the long term interests of Pakistan because:-
- Pakistan loses its link to China and Central Asia
- Pakistan loses control over rivers and water reservoirs of Diamer Bhasha and Mangla
- Pakistan loses control over potential hydroelectric power
- Pakistan loses Northern Land route to Bangladesh and beyond
- Pakistan gains very little from this proposal politically or geographically.
Pakistan will not be able to sell its people the full Kashmir Independence formula
What is the proposal for a smaller Independent Kashmir State?
The Smaller Independent Kashmir proposal says:-
Only the Valley of Kashmir is merged with Azad Kashmir and some Muslim majority district of Jammu and all be made independent.
Kashmir Religion Statistics
Polls conducted on Kashmir Joining India or Pakistan
The backers of the formula say that India has already altered the demographics of Jammu and Ladakh enough to justify not requiring a plebiscite.
Polls conducted in Ladakh asking who they would like to join overwhelmingly say India
Polls conducted in Azad Kashmir asking who they would like to join overwhelmingly say Independence.
Polls conducted in Indian Held Valley asking who they would like to join overwhelmingly say Independence.
Polls are heavily biased towards the country in possession of the territory as they control the media and education syllabus. Ladakh being a near Muslim majority choosing Indian rule is doubtful.
Pros and Cons of the Smaller Independent Kashmir formula for Pakistan
- Pakistan’s reason for existence – Islam – is justified
- Pakistan gains influence in controlling Chenab Rivers flow
- Pakistan’s capital Islamabad will feel safer with a buffer country up north.
- Pakistani culture will gain from the positive influence of a secular Muslim country at its border
- Pakistan’s geographical influence expands over new territory
- Pakistan will gain Siachen Glacier and secure access to China’s Aksai Chin Highway up north
- Peace dividend
- Pakistan will lose territory of Azad Kashmir
- Pakistan will lose is a major water reservoir, Mangla Dam
- Pakistan will lose Kargil – Leh highway access to Ladakh
- Pakistan will be dependent on China to access Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh in the Far East
Independent Kashmir and Ladakh
Although Buddhists are in a majority in Ladakh with Muslims a very close second, Pakistan would be interested in linking up with China through:-
- The Karakorum Pass near Ladakh
- The Siachen Glacier near Turtuk – Thoise
How to mitigate drawbacks of the Smaller Independent Kashmir Proposal?
These drawbacks can be minimized if Pakistan manages to negotiate a dominion status with the new country of Smaller Kashmir – by retaining defense and foreign policy.
Will the Smaller Independent Kashmir proposal be acceptable to India?
Yes, if Pakistan manages to build strategic interests of Russia and China both in
- Peace between India and Pakistan.
- China is convinced that a road link from Gilgit-Baltistan – Azad Kashmir – Indian Held Kashmir – Ladakh – Nepal – Bhutan – Bangladesh, is in their interest.
Why is Kashmir Important to India
It’s a matter of power and prestige for India.
After falsely convincing their public for 70 years that Kashmir is a non-issue, suddenly letting go would be painful.
Kashmir has been fully integrated by India into the union without as much as a squeak from world powers.
India doesn’t feel it needs to give concessions to anyone let alone Pakistan.
India would rather destroy Pakistan than do what is right and let go of some territory.
Also, they can threaten China’s supply lines in Pakistani Kashmir.
Will the Independent Kashmir Solution be acceptable to Pakistan
Complete Independent Kashmir, no. Smaller Independent Kashmir, very likely yes.
Considering how weak the political strength of Pakistan is, the country will eventually have to accept whatever India offers on Kashmir. Smaller Independent Kashmir is still a long shot.
Will Independent Kashmir be acceptable to The Hurriyat Conference?
The moderate Hurriyat Conference faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq would support any solution that meets the aspirations of the people of Kashmir and Pakistan.
The hardline Hurriyat Faction led by Syed Ali Geelani has withdrawn to the background.
A Smaller independent Kashmir, acceptable to India and Pakistan, would be sellable to The Hurriyat Conference as well.
Is the Smaller Independent Kashmir formula in Pakistan’s interest?
A smaller independent Kashmir is not completely in Pakistan’s interest, especially if Pakistan does not retain dominion status with the new state in Defense and Foreign Policy – but the alternates are far worse.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s years of obsessing over Kashmir has just about brought Pakistan to the brink of implosion, economically, politically, socially, and as a viable state.
The much-needed respite for this deal will help Pakistan build the political, economic, societal, and state institution it has ignored for so long.
Pakistan would love if a dominion is formed with the country in defense and foreign policy clauses – but not with India
Independent Kashmir Movement in History
The Pro-Independence resistance movement was first started by Aman Ullah Khan and Maqbool Butt in 1966, called the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front. JKLF – Indian authorities hanged Maqbool Butt.
Is an Independent Kashmir State Viable?
Kashmir as a separate country does well in:-
- Fruits and Vegetable
But has immense potential in:-
- Hydroelectric generation
- Transit trade
- Transit Trade Route between Highest population countries
So, Independent Kashmir can survive as an independent state if India and China decide to lay off it.
What about the Independent Kashmir Pundit?
The Islamist movement in Kashmir is a reaction to the heavy-handedness of the Indian Government.
These rebels and reactionaries will go back to their barracks and become irrelevant in a new independent setup with a likely pluralistic view.
Kashmiri Pandit Hindus have nothing to fear in the new independent Kashmir setup.
Some Independent Kashmir Quotes
“95 % Kashmir Muslims do not wish to be or remain Indian…” – Jayaprakash Narayan’s letter to Nehru, May 1, 1956
“Indian government ha(s) ve conspired to abolish the complexity of Kashmiri civilization… (Only) two entities confront each other, the mosque and the army camp” – British Journalist James Buchan
Indian Independence Day in Kashmir
This is what Kashmiri people in the Indian Part think on India’s Independence Day
“Kashmir is an open cage, the people here never think of the future” – Javed, 23, Sopore, Baramulla, Kashmir Valley in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.
So, are you convinced?
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