Tag Archives: Jammu and Kashmir

Name changes: POK or POJ&K? 12 June 2014

Name changes: POK or POJ&K?   12 June 2014

India’s new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Government is apparently contemplating changing the term ‘Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK)’ to ‘Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJ&K)’. This move has upset some people, including Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah, who considers it an attempt to polarise the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)—or J&K-ites, as I call this divided and disputed population. Terminology is an important issue, including in relation to disputed J&K, the nomenclature for which I have sometimes found to be confusing, unclear and problematic.

In my experience, when Indians and Pakistanis use the term ‘Kashmir’, they often mean different things. For an Indian, ‘Kashmir’ generally refers to the region known as the Kashmir Valley—or Kashmir, for short—which, along with Jammu and Ladakh, comprises what I call ‘Indian J&K’: the area of J&K actually under India’s control. For a Pakistani, ‘Kashmir’ often refers to most of the former princely state of J&K. I say ‘most’ as Pakistan has been able—very cleverly since General Zia’s time—to suggest via maps and diplomacy that the Gilgit-Baltistan region in J&K’s north (known as the Northern Areas until 2009) is neither part of J&K, nor of the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan’s tactic, in which India seemingly sometimes acquiesces, arises because the British directly controlled the Gilgit Agency from the 1880s and the Gilgit Leased Area from the 1930s. Islamabad’s suggestion is that the two areas were not part of princely J&K. This is incorrect. Both areas actually belonged the Dogra maharaja as part of J&K’s Frontiers District Province. Furthermore, as was publicly recorded, the British returned the Gilgit Agency and the Gilgit Leased Area to Maharaja Hari Singh’s direct control and administration on 1 August 1947. Gilgit-Baltistan therefore is part of the India-Pakistan dispute over J&K.

Confusingly, ‘Kashmir’ also is used by historians and international relations scholars in the term ‘the Kashmir dispute’ that has existed since 1947 between India and Pakistan over which should possess the former princely state of J&K. J&K comprises five regions: Azad Kashmir; Gilgit-Baltistan; Jammu; Kashmir; Ladakh. However, the former princely entity was popularly called ‘Kashmir’ after its highest profile, best known and most celebrated part: Kashmir. This famous region essentially was/is the Kashmir Valley. Because the princely state was popularly called Kashmir, so we have ‘the Kashmir dispute’. More correctly, this issue should be called the ‘Jammu and Kashmir dispute’, or ‘the India-Pakistan dispute over Jammu and Kashmir’, or ‘the dispute over the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir’. However, because these terms are a mouthful and given the former princely state’s popular name, the Kashmir dispute has come to be commonly used.

Ethnically-speaking, differences also exist. For an Indian or someone from Indian J&K, a ‘Kashmiri’ is a resident of the Kashmir Valley. Most, but not all, ethnic Kashmiris in J&K live there, although Azad Kashmir also has some small populations. For a Pakistani, a Kashmiri could be anyone from the former princely state of J&K. In Azad (Free) Jammu and Kashmir—or Azad Kashmir, for short—as this region has formally called itself since 1947, a Kashmiri is a person from Azad Kashmir who, most probably, is not an ethnic Kashmiri. Azad Kashmiris call themselves ‘Kashmiris’ because their forebears were subjects in the former princely state of J&K commonly called ‘Kashmir’. Similarly, some ‘Pakistanis’ in the United Kingdom, a large percentage of whom actually are from Mirpur in Azad Kashmir, increasingly are calling themselves ‘Kashmiris’ in order to distinguish themselves from other British Pakistanis. These Mirpuris are not ethnic Kashmiris. Their links arise from the former princely state.

Then we get to the loaded terms, such as India’s ‘Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK)’ and Pakistan’s ‘Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK)’ or ‘Indian Held Kashmir (IHK)’. (Another term for New Delhi to consider is ‘Chinese-Occupied Kashmir’, which refers to Aksai Chin and Shaksgam.) Confusingly, when an Indian uses the term ‘POK’, he/she can be talking about three things: ‘POK’, which I call ‘Pakistan Administered J&K’ (comprising Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan); Azad Kashmir; or Gilgit-Baltistan. Such unclarity is made worse because some Indians cannot bring themselves to use the term ‘Azad Kashmir’. It sticks in their craws that these pro-Pakistanis are ‘free’, particularly as both Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan supposedly are an ‘integral part of India’ due to Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India in 1947. Interestingly, Azad Kashmiris do not consider themselves free in the sense of being independent. Rather, they became free from the maharaja’s control in 1947, then, post-accession, they were free from Indian control.

The terms ‘IOK’ and ‘IHK’ also confuse, chiefly as many Pakistanis don’t appear to be interested in obtaining possession of Indian J&K’s Jammu or Ladakh regions. Remembering that the ‘k’ in the acrostic ‘Pakistan’ stands for ‘Kashmir’, Pakistanis want the Kashmir Valley. Here there is an important aside: despite what many Indians and others believe, Pakistan does not officially claim all of J&K. Rather, it wants the United Nations plebiscite held so that the people of J&K can decide whether J&K, in its entirety, will join either India or Pakistan. Meanwhile, Islamabad is administering ‘its’ portion of J&K until this poll is held. Pakistanis’ hopes for a plebiscite are forlorn, however. Since the 1950s, India has been unwilling to have this poll held.

And, finally, to India’s proposed use of the term ‘Pakistan Occupied J&K’. It is easy to change a term, although the change may not have much relevance. However, for two reasons, the term ‘POJ&K’ is more correct than ‘POK’. First, as noted, the India-Pakistan dispute over J&K should actually be called ‘the Jammu and Kashmir dispute’, not just ‘the Kashmir dispute’. Second, most of Azad Kashmir comprises western areas of the former Jammu Province, chiefly Mirpur, Kotli and Poonch. The problem remains that, whatever term New Delhi decides to use, it does not reflect the confusing fact that ‘occupied’ Gilgit-Baltistan also is part of the Kashmir dispute. We need a new, more inclusive, term for this dispute!

The opinions in this blog are mine. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any organisations, professional or otherwise, with which I am involved or associated.

Christopher Snedden
12 June 2014


October commemorations in J&K 8 October 2013

October commemorations in J&K                                             8 October 2013

October 1947 was an eventful month for people living in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). I have listed some dates below that J&K-ites may—perhaps should?—commemorate this month. I have extracted these dates mainly from my book The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir. This is not an inclusive list. Rather, it details events that were reported in 1947 and therefore are accessible to foreign scholars.

From 1 October: Maharaja Hari Singh’s armed forces continue their offensive against Muslims rebelling (at least since partition) in the Poonch (particularly) and Mirpur areas of western Jammu Province.

From 2 October: newspapers, including the Civil and Military Gazette (CMG), Lahore, The Times, London, and The Times of India, Bombay, report on the anti-maharaja uprising in Poonch.

4 October: inspired by events in Junagadh, a rebel Poonchi, Khwaja Ghulam Nabi Gilkar, tries, but fails, to create a ‘provisional government’ for J&K.

5 October: India’s Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, informs Minister for Home Affairs, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, that the (secular) All J&K National Conference had ‘decided for the Indian Union’.

7 October: Patel requests India’s Defence Minister, Sardar Baldev Singh, to send arms and ammunition immediately to J&K, by air if necessary, as a Pakistani intervention there appears likely.

7 October: Maharaja Hari Singh imposes ‘rigorous precensorship on all news and views’ in J&K and forces the Kashmir Times to cease publication after it advocates J&K’s accession to Pakistan.

8 October: CMG states that ‘there is already a 
movement’ in Gilgit for J&K’s accession to Pakistan. (This culminates in early November when Gilgitis successfully free their area from Maharaja Hari Singh’s control.)

9 October: the Kisan Mazdoor [Peasants and Workers] Conference, the party of Prem Nath Bazaz, a Kashmiri Hindu, calls upon the maharaja to accede to Pakistan.

9 October: leader of the National Conference, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, states that his ‘prime concern … is the emancipation of the four million people [in J&K]. We can consider the question of joining one or the other Dominion only when we have achieved our objective.’

10 October: The Times notes that Abdullah and Hari Singh are ‘anti-Pakistan’.

By mid-to-late October: anti-maharaja ‘rebels’ control large parts of Poonch and Mirpur districts.

Around mid-October: the J&K Government accuses Pakistan of providing cross-border support to Poonchi and Mirpuri rebels; equally, Pakistan confronts cross-border activity across the Sialkot-Jammu border that possibly involves ‘Kashmir state Forces’.

18 October: Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, complains to J&K’s Prime Minister about the ‘ruthless oppression of Muslims’ in J&K.

19, 21 October: CMG reports on serious inter-religious violence in Jammu Province. In the east, pro-Indian Hindus and Sikhs attack Muslims; in the west, pro-Pakistan Muslims attack Hindus and Sikhs. (Violence continues throughout November 1947. All Jammu communities are seriously affected.)

21 October: CMG reports that the southern Kashmir Valley, a ‘stronghold’ of the Kisan Mazdoor Conference, ‘last week witnessed a massive upsurge in favour of Pakistan’.

21–22 October: pro-Pakistan soldiers in the J&K Army, inspired by elements in the so-called Azad Army fighting in Poonch and Mirpur, rebel at Domel, near Muzaffarabad, and take control of the strategic bridge over the Jhelum River that controls entry to the Kashmir Valley beyond.

22 October: Muslim Pukhtoon tribesmen coming from, and sent by, Pakistan invade Kashmir Province via Kohala, on the J&K-Pakistan border, and Domel. Their intention is to capture Hari Singh and/or J&K for Pakistan.

22 October: Abdullah, talking in New Delhi before news of the Pukhtoons’ invasion has reached there, discusses the ‘present troubles in Poonch’.

From 22 October: Pukhtoon tribesmen heading for Srinagar brutally loot, pillage, rape and kill Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in Muzaffarabad, Uri and Baramula. In Baramula, they also kill some Europeans. Immediately thereafter, Kashmiris’ support for Pakistan wanes.

24 October: senior politicians in the (pro-Pakistan) All J&K Muslim Conference, led by the Poonchi, Sardar Ibrahim Khan, and benefitting from the Pukhtoons’ invasion of J&K, form the Provisional ‘Azad’ (Free) Government of J&K in the ‘liberated’ or freed areas of J&K. The nascent body claims to be the legitimate government for all of J&K, but neither Pakistan nor India recognise it.

26 October: Maharaja Hari Singh accedes to India, chiefly in order to obtain military help against the Pukhtoons. While accepting the accession, India’s Governor-General, Lord Louis Mountbatten, proposes that a plebiscite be held to enable the people of J&K to resolve J&K’s contentious international status.

27 October 1947: Indian military forces enter J&K, chiefly to defend J&K from the ‘raiders’—in which term New Delhi (disingenuously) includes Pukhtoons and all anti-maharaja/anti-Indian elements in J&K. Fighting closes the all-weather Jhelum Valley Road from Srinagar to Kohala (and on to Rawalpindi).

29 October: The Times reports an equivocating Sheikh Abdullah as saying that J&K ‘might be well advised to accede to neither [Dominion], but to retain neutral status and serve as a meeting ground for Hindu and Muslim ideas’.

30 October: Pakistan, which naively had expected the princely state ‘to fall into its lap like a ripe fruit’, rejects Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India as being based on ‘fraud and violence’.

31 October: Maharaja Hari Singh’s autocratic rule in J&K ends when Sheikh Abdullah is installed as Chief Emergency Administrator of the National Conference-dominated administration. It then is largely restricted to Kashmir due to the onset of winter, road closures and the Indian Army still securing territory. Singh’s officials remain in control in eastern parts of Jammu Province.

Late October: Kashmiris form a People’s Militia to defend themselves against the marauding Pukhtoons.

A lot happened in J&K, and to J&K-ites, in October 1947!

Christopher Snedden
8 October 2013

Hizb-ul Mujahideen in ‘Kashmir’ 24 September 2013

Hizb-ul Mujahideen in ‘Kashmir’                         24 September 2013

The anti-Indian uprising in Indian-administered Kashmir has now been underway for a quarter of a century. Civilians began protests there in 1988; militants instigated armed activities the following year; things got really ‘hot’ from 1990. While levels of violence, the tally of ‘incidents’ and the number of deaths have all subsided significantly in recent years, an interesting interview in Al Jazeera with a ‘senior Kashmiri independence fighter’ in the ‘Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’, which ‘has widespread membership … [in] Indian-administered Kashmir’ suggests that, for them, the insurgency is not yet over. If I were a Kashmiri, however, I would not be taking a lot of succour, or inspiration, from this interview.

(See www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/09/2013920153418770798.html. I thank Michael Dwyer at Hurst and Co., London, for sending me this link.)

According to the ‘independence fighter’, ‘anti-US and anti-state fighters in Afghanistan owe Kashmiris “a debt”, … that he expects … will be paid “on [Kashmiris’] terms” after the planned US military withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014’. Such support by these ‘anti-state fighters’, most of whom will be Afghans, is a distinct possibility, although it will not happen soon. Almost certainly, it will take them—if they can do so at all—some time to establish the type of hardline government that they may want in Afghanistan. One major reason for this is that the vast majority of Afghans do not want another hardline, anti-social government imposed on them. Nevertheless, should these Afghans succeed, this could free up ‘Muslim’ fighters to go to Kashmir to fight ‘Hindu’ Indians. Equally, in satisfying their supposed ‘religious duty’, these men may be inspired to go to Syria, Chechnya, western China, or other places where they perceive that Muslims are being suppressed—including in neighbouring Pakistan, which has a real, major and ongoing problem of its own dealing with hardline ‘anti-US and anti-state fighters’. Equally, if Indian intelligence and border security forces are operating effectively, they should be able to anticipate, and cope with, the arrival of such hostile forces.

Equally, as the ‘senior Kashmiri independence fighter’ acknowledges, it is now difficult to cross the Line of Control (LoC) with ‘this border-crossing activity [being] two to three percent of our operations. Now our real focus is on operating within [Indian-administered] Kashmir … [with] mujahideen in every [sic] district and sub-district of Jammu and Kashmir’. This almost certainly overstates their capability and operational strength. Interestingly, he also claims that the killing of six Indian soldiers ‘6km inside the LoC, in the Poonch area’ in August was the work of the ‘mujahideen’, not the Pakistan Army. This also appears to be an ambitious claim.

The article is interesting for a number of other reasons. First, the author, Asad Hashim (who is a Pakistani, I think), incorrectly refers to Muzaffarabad as ‘the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir’. It’s amazing how many people, including many Indians, would not baulk at this statement. However, Muzaffarabad is the capital of Azad Kashmir, which, together with the neighbouring Gilgit-Baltistan region to its north, comprises ‘Pakistan-administered Kashmir’. For some time, Islamabad has cleverly been trying to suggest that the Kashmir dispute does not include Gilgit-Baltistan—when it certainly does. Legally, this region was part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in August 1947.

The ‘senior Kashmiri independence fighter’ also states that ‘The UN resolution passed on January 5, 1949, speaks of … the Kashmiri people, and their right to choose between Pakistan, India and independence’. He is incorrect. Independence is not mentioned at all in any United Nations resolutions. Furthermore, he may need to come to grips with the following observation: in almost 30 years of researching and studying the Kashmir dispute, the only thing that I have found that India and Pakistan agree on in their entire dispute over Jammu and Kashmir is that neither J&K, nor any part of it, can become independent. This will make it exceedingly difficult for this ‘independence fighter’ and his ilk to obtain their aim of ‘Kashmiri independence’, whatever they mean by that concept. It also explains Hizb-ul Mujahideen’s difficult military situation—as he hints in the article—of not receiving significant military assistance from Pakistan. Islamabad has long favoured supporting insurgent groups such as ‘Lashkar-e-Tayyaba’ that want Indian J&K’s integration into Pakistan, not independence. Islamabad tolerates, and provides some support to, Hizbul Mujahideen because they are anti-Indian.

The ‘Kashmiri independence fighter’ also states that ‘Pakistan, India and Kashmiris are the three involved in this [dispute], and it is important that they sit together to find a solution’. By ‘Kashmiris’, I presume that he means the people of J&K, whom I call ‘J&K-ites’, as the terms ‘Kashmir’ and ‘Kashmiri’ mean different things in India, Pakistan and J&K. In India and Indian J&K, they generally refer to ethnic Kashmiris from the region of Kashmir, that is, the Kashmir Valley. In Pakistan and Pakistan-administered J&K, they generally refer to anyone, regardless of their ethnicity, from the former princely state of J&K, or ‘Kashmir’ as it was popularly known.

I agree with the independence fighter’s statement that there are ‘three [parties] involved’ in the Kashmir dispute. History, however, shows us that two of these parties, India and Pakistan, have not been able to resolve this issue. Equally, other third parties, such as the United Nations or the United States, either have been totally ineffective (UN) or have been uninterested or disallowed from participation by India (US). For too long, the legitimate and valid third party to this dispute, J&K-ites—who actually are the first party to the Kashmir dispute as they instigated it—have been ignored. Involving J&K-ites in resolution attempts not only is fair and important, but also it could lead, as I have argued in The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir, to the Kashmir dispute being resolved. Given its focus on the Kashmir Valley, the Hizbul Mujahideen almost certainly does not represent many J&K-ites. Equally, if its senior leader is to be believed, the militant group will be around for some time causing trouble, or trying to cause trouble, for India.

Christopher Snedden
24 September 2013

Gilgit-Baltistan: decidedly odd—and devastating 24 June 2013

Gilgit-Baltistan: decidedly odd—and devastating                   24 June 2013

The attack early on Sunday 23 June against foreigners in the Diamer area of Gilgit-Baltistan in disputed Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is decidedly odd—and devastating. The situation is not yet fully clear, but up to 20 ‘gunmen’ shot and killed eleven people, one Pakistani and ten foreigners, near the 8,126 metre Nanga Parbat peak. Some of the dead apparently were soon going to attempt to climb this Himalayan peak, which is the ninth highest in the world.

The gunmen were well organised and motivated. Because of the area of attack’s remoteness and rugged terrain, there are limited routes into, and out of, the Diamer (or western) face to Nanga Parbat. Indeed, to reach this location requires a helicopter flight or at least 18 hours trekking, both of which involve the requirement to be acclimatised. The attackers apparently wore the uniform of the local Gilgit Scouts. Taken together, these factors suggest that the gunmen were fit, resilient and well-equipped, that they had some sort of plan for entry and egress, and that they had some degree of local knowledge and support. One question is support from whom?

So far, the gunmen have not been found, a disturbing factor for some Pakistani and local tour operators who consider that this area, because of its isolation, could be cordoned and searched, with human movement from the air apparently relatively easy to spot, and the perpetrators possibly found.

It seems that the attackers may have been operatives from the Pakistan Taliban, as a spokesman from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban) claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it was to obtain revenge against US drone strikes, including one that recently killed this organisation’s deputy chief, Waliur Rehman.

This revenge aspect is surprising. First, the Pakistani Taliban generally operates in north-western Pakistan. Second, possibly only one of foreigners killed was a United States citizen of Chinese descent and with dual citizenship, while two were from the People’s Republic of China, with which nation Pakistan has a strong relationship that Islamabad would not want to jeopardise. The other foreigners apparently were citizens from Nepal (one), Lithuania (one), Slovakia (two) and Ukraine (three). Of these nations, Nepal and China have never been directly involved supporting the United States, which is responsible for the anti-Taliban drone strikes that have afflicted the Af-Pak border area as part of its strategy to placate Afghanistan. Third, there were foreign targets, or places where foreigners frequent, that are much easier to attack than the remote Nanga Parbat area.

A further odd aspect of the attack is that locals and tourist operators have blamed unstated ‘enemies of Pakistan, who are “well-known” ’ to them. They believe that these ‘enemies’ are not from the Gilgit-Baltistan area given that some 250,000 people apparently rely on tourism and would not want to see its hampered locally (see http://pamirtimes.net/2013/06/23/massacre-near-nanga-parbat-pato-demands-arrest-of-terrorists-behind-tourist-killing/).

The term ‘enemies of Pakistan’ could refer to Indian forces who certainly would have the capabilities to mount such an attack. However, media reporting and public statements, plus the probable route used by the invaders, suggest otherwise. So too does the fact that foreigners were blatantly killed, which, to me, does not suggest direct Indian involvement. Such an operation would be too dangerous politically, diplomatically and militarily.

Reading between the lines and given that these ‘enemies’ are non-local, they possibly could be anti-Shia Sunni radicals ‘imported’ into the region and/or allowed to covertly live there who previously have engaged in some serious and unsavoury sectarian violence in Gilgit-Baltistan, including by attacking Shia passengers on buses that ply major roads that traverse this region. Possibly, these elements may be under the tutelage and control of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate and might be on standby for use against India in J&K. However, a conundrum is why they would be used in the way that they have been. One possible answer is that they went ‘rogue’ and undertook an unapproved mission of their own volition. It remains to be seen.

There are two devastating aspect of the attack. First, people involved in tourism in both Pakistan and Gilgit-Baltistan now will suffer a downturn in visitors. Visits to Nanga Parbat have now been suspended. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) already advises people considering travel to ‘Border areas with Afghanistan and India (excluding Lahore, Kasur and Narowal)’ to ‘Do Not Travel’. Indeed, at a time when moderate Pakistanis—who comprise the overwhelming bulk of the Pakistan nation—need to be embraced and empowered, politically, economically, culturally, socially and diplomatically, DFAT’s Travel Warning for Pakistan states: “We continue to strongly advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Pakistan overall due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping, sectarian violence and the unpredictable security situation”. Many potential tourists now fear that Pakistan is far too dangerous a place to visit. This is very tragic. There are risks involved travelling to Pakistan, but this warning, which is typical of those of Western governments, suggest that the terrorists are winning in Pakistan.

Second, while Gilgit-Baltistan is not under Pakistan’s de jure control, it is certainly under Pakistan’s de facto control. This incident is a real signal to the new Nawaz Sharif-led Government that Pakistan has some major problems with anti-social elements, especially those located in remote areas, including in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Baluchistan. For Islamabad, these various terrorists will take a sustained effort, much policy creativity and considerable time to defeat.


Christopher Snedden
24 June 2013



My suggestion to resolve the Kashmir dispute 18 June 2013

My suggestion to resolve the Kashmir dispute                      18 June 2013

As I see it, history tells us three things about the Kashmir dispute:
1) that the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)—or J&K-ites, as I call them—instigated the dispute over J&K’s status;
2) that J&K-ites have never been asked in any inclusive or meaningful way what international status they want for their state;
3) that India and Pakistan have not been able to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

In my book Kashmir: The Unwritten History (publication information below), I have detailed how people in J&K actually instigated the struggle over whether J&K should join India or Pakistan—and not outsiders as India and Pakistan have long claimed. These J&K-ites did so before the Maharaja of J&K acceded to India on 26 October 1947. This makes J&K-ites the first party to the Kashmir dispute, not the third. Certainly, J&K-ites are stakeholders in this dispute if only because it is actually over their lands.

Nevertheless, J&K-ites have never been consulted about J&K’s international status even though, after accepting the Maharaja’s accession in 1947, Indian officials proposed that there should be “a reference to the people” about this matter. In 1948, the United Nations resolved that a plebiscite should be held to enable the people of J&K to determine whether J&K, in its entirety, should join India or Pakistan. Officially, Pakistan still desires that this poll be held. Thus, at some stages, India and Pakistan have deemed that the people of J&K should be involved resolving J&K’s status.

The United Nations-supervised plebiscite for J&K-ites has long been ‘dead’. Pakistan couldn’t agree to its preconditions; India felt that it would ‘lose’. Equally, India and Pakistan have not resolved their dispute over possession of J&K. The only thing clear from their various discussions since 1947 is that both nations are prepared to divide J&K between them. The issue for them now is where this division should be.

The inability of India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute suggests that the involvement of a third party might be helpful. There are some useful historical precedents: the United Nations brokered the 1949 ceasefire that ended the 1948 India-Pakistan war; the World Bank helped India and Pakistan to agree their Indus Waters Treaty in 1960; the United Nations helped resolve the Rann of Kutch incident that preceded the 1965 India-Pakistan war, with this resolution occurring in 1968.

A feasible third party that could help resolve the Kashmir dispute is the people of J&K. Under Section 1.ii of the 1972 Simla Agreement, India and Pakistan agreed to “settle their differences … through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon”. Both nations therefore could “mutually agree” to allow J&K-ites, who certainly have sufficient knowledge and will, to try resolve the Kashmir dispute.

I call this process “Let the People Decide”. It is fully detailed in the Conclusion to my book. Essentially, it involves India and Pakistan allowing delegates from each of J&K’s five regions* that want to be involved, to cross the Line of Control as required and have meetings in various locations throughout J&K. The aim is for them to discuss the Kashmir dispute and, eventually, to offer a solution, or solutions, to resolve it.

*(J&K’s five regions are: Azad Kashmir; Gilgit-Baltistan; Jammu; Kashmir (the Kashmir Valley); and, Ladakh.)

There should be no timeframe for these discussions. Rather, J&K-ites’ representatives should take as long as they need to resolve the issue of their state’s international status. India and Pakistan should be kept informed about the discussions, and of any progress. J&K-ites should ratify any solution/s that are finally proposed. If J&K-ites’ representatives can’t resolve the Kashmir dispute, then it should to revert to India and Pakistan.

The term “Let the People Decide” comes from a speech with this title given by Jawaharlal Nehru in August 1952. He stated that “we will give [J&K-ites] a chance to decide [the future of J&K]. We propose to stand by their decision in this matter.” While Nehru was talking about conducting the UN plebiscite in J&K, the title and thrust of the speech are, I believe, still applicable.

The great challenge is to get India and Pakistan to agree to this approach. However, as noted, involving J&K-ites in resolving the Kashmir dispute is not a new idea. Rather, it is a lapsed proposition. Certainly, after almost 66 years, all parties to the Kashmir dispute would benefit from having this matter resolved. J&K could then become a bridge between India and Pakistan—rather than a bitter item of contestation and hostility. Let the People Decide!

(Kashmir: The Unwritten History was published by HarperCollins India in February 2013. It was first published by Hurst and Co., London, and by Columbia University Press, New York, as The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir. It was republished using this latter title by Oxford University Press, Karachi, in January 2013.)

Christopher Snedden
18 June 2013

Is generational change the key to resolving the Kashmir dispute? 11 June 2013


Is generational change the key to resolving the Kashmir dispute?    11 June 2013

Recently, I returned from New Delhi where I launched a book I have written called Kashmir: The Unwritten History (published by HarperCollins India). To my pleasant surprise, my book has been well received in India. Since its release, it has been on India’s ‘Top Ten Non-Fiction Best Selling List’, rating as high as three at one stage.

My book may be popular because it is controversial. Using primary sources, I have discussed how people in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) started the dispute over J&K’s international status (the so called ‘Kashmir dispute’) in 1947—and not outsiders, as India has long claimed and in which claim Pakistan surprisingly has acquiesced.

The people of J&K instigated the Kashmir dispute by undertaking three significant acts in 1947:

  • soon after partition on 15 August 1947, some Muslim ‘rebels’ living in the south-western Poonch and Mirpur areas of the Jammu Province of J&K mounted an uprising against the ruler of J&K;
  • in September-October 1947, residents of Jammu Province (‘Jammuites’) engaged in serious inter-religious violence throughout Jammu Province, as a result of which many people in all communities (Hindu, Sikh, Muslim) were killed, or were forced to flee to other areas;
  • Poonchi and Mirpuri ‘rebels’ created the Provisional Azad (Free) Government in those areas that they had successfully liberated or ‘freed’ from the ruler’s control, with this area quickly becoming known as ‘Azad (Free) Kashmir’.

Significantly, all of these three actions by the people of J&K (who collectively I call ‘J&K-ites’) occurred before the ruler of J&K, Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, acceded to India on 26 October 1947. Surprisingly, they have received scant—or even no—attention in most histories about the Kashmir dispute.

Nevertheless, these three actions importantly confirm that the people of J&K not only have long been stakeholders in the long-running Kashmir dispute, but also that they actually instigated this serious, ongoing, matter. This conflicts with the official Indian version that Pukhtoon tribesmen from Pakistan instigated all of the violence and troubles in J&K in 1947 when they invaded Kashmir Province on 22 October. Most Pakistanis also have ignored the significant events that preceded the embarrassing (for Pakistan) tribal invasion.

While some Indians have called me a rebel, or they think that I am pro-Pakistan, or that my ‘revision’ of history will empower Pakistan, many subcontinentals are pleased to hear that there is more to the Kashmir dispute than has been enunciated in Indian and Pakistani histories. In particular, J&K-ites have been pleased to see their forebears’ side of the story revealed in a comprehensive way for the first time. Some have informed me that they have found my book empowering.

One Indian reviewer believes that my book was based on a false premise: that the Muslim League and Muhammad Ali Jinnah were responsible for organising whatever negative (that is, anti-maharaja or anti-Indian) events happened in J&K in 1947. Interestingly, he did not provide a shred of evidence to support his position. This reviewer also stated that my book ‘flies in the face of historical facts’. I agree with him. Indeed, this was always my intention: to provide a more complete picture of what happened in 1947, rather than to selectively relate historical ‘facts’ advantageous to India (particularly) or to Pakistan.

Another reviewer claims that I have not accessed any Indian documents about these events. I did actually do so, including some that show that Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel were aware in late September/early October of what was happening in J&K, including in the Poonch area, and, more pointedly, that they both knew that the Pukhtoon tribesmen were planning to invade Kashmir Province.

Interestingly, there seems to be a generational issue involved in people’s acceptance or rejection of my book. Many younger people—those under about 45 years old—appear more prepared to consider the book’s contents on its merits. People older than 45 tend to want to apportion blame for what happened in J&K in 1947.

This possibly suggests that, in terms of resolving the Kashmir dispute, a resolution may happen more easily when the older generation that directly experienced or that strongly remembers partition in 1947 has moved on. In Pakistan, most such people have passed away. In India, there are still many alive, with some serving in important political positions. This includes the current Indian President, Prime Minister and Defence Minister.

My sample has been small, but perhaps younger people in the subcontinent might be more amenable to resolving the Kashmir dispute than the older generation?

(Kashmir: The Unwritten History, published by HarperCollins India in 2013, was first published by Hurst and Co., London, and Columbia University Press, New York, as The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir. The title was changed to take account of the Indian Government’s sensitivity in relation to the use of the term ‘Azad Kashmir’, which region India considers to be under Pakistan’s ‘occupation’.)

Christopher Snedden

11 June 2013