July 2004 News

Kashmir Dispute And Some Proposals To Resolve It

21 July 2004

Islamabad: Foreign ministers from India and Pakistan met on Wednesday to review a fledgling peace process and discuss Kashmir, the cause of decades of enmity between them. No breakthrough is expected, but diplomats and analysts say that regular contact is crucial to the process. After coming close to war in 2002, the South Asian neighbours have slowly rebuilt ties. Following are some key details about Kashmir, an overview of the dispute and some proposals to reach a final settlement. POPULATION: 10 million in Indian Kashmir and over three million in Pakistani Kashmir. About 70 percent are Muslim and the rest Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. AREA: 222,236 square km (85,783 sq miles), slightly bigger than the U.S. state of Utah and almost as big as Britain. India controls 45 percent, Pakistan about a third and China the rest. ECONOMY: About 80 percent of Kashmiris are engaged in farming. Tourism once flourished but has been badly hit by the conflict. HISTORY: After partition of the subcontinent in 1947, independent Kashmir was expected to go to Pakistan. Its Hindu ruler wanted to stay independent but, faced with an invasion by Muslim tribesmen from Pakistan, hastily acceded to India in October 1947 in return for help against the invaders. After the ensuing war between India and Pakistan, U.N. resolutions called on troops to withdraw and for Kashmiris to choose between India and Pakistan. They are yet to be implemented. India and Pakistan again fought over Kashmir in 1965 and it was also a factor in a 1971 war. REVOLT: Simmering resentment against Indian rule erupted into open revolt in 1989. India says 40,000 people, including thousands of civilians, have been killed. Separatists put the toll at more than 90,000. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the guerrillas, charges Pakistan denies. Pakistan says it only gives moral and diplomatic support to what it calls Kashmiri 'freedom fighters'. OFFICIAL POSITIONS: New Delhi claims the whole of Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India. Islamabad says a U.N.-mandated referendum should still take place, expecting that the majority would decide to join Pakistan. Last December, President Pervez Musharraf said Pakistan was prepared to put aside its insistence on a referendum and meet India half-way in a bid to end the dispute. SOME PROPOSALS FOR A FINAL SETTLEMENT STATUS QUO: Unofficially India would be prepared to give up its claim to parts of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan, the Line of Control would become a permanent border, with India retaining the mainly Muslim Kashmir valley, Hindu- majority Jammu and mainly Buddhist Ladakh and granting these areas some degree of autonomy. MOVING THE BORDER: Division of Kashmir along the River Chenab, with Muslim-majority areas going to Pakistan and Hindu and Buddhist areas to India. INDEPENDENCE FOR THE ENTIRE STATE: Many Kashmiris favour independence from India and Pakistan. INDEPENDENCE FOR THE VALLEY: Creation of a smaller independent state, compromising the Kashmir Valley and perhaps also Pakistan's Azad Kashmir region. AUTONOMY UNDER JOINT INDO-PAKISTAN CONTROL: A portion of Jammu and Kashmir, centred on the Valley, would be set up as a sovereign entity with a secular constitution. The entity would enjoy full internal autonomy while its defence and foreign affairs would be controlled jointly by both Pakistan and India. Both India and Pakistan have objections to most of these proposals.


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