Tag Archives: 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


Is Kashmir actually the jugular vein for Pakistan? 13 May 2014

General Raheel Sharif, with stick, surveying the Line of Control, December 2013. http://kashmirglory.com/pak-army-chief-visit-loc/

Is Kashmir actually the jugular vein for Pakistan?     13 May 2014
Surprisingly, the leader of the Pakistan Army, General Raheel Sharif, once again recently talked about ‘Kashmir’ being the ‘jugular vein’ for Pakistan. Given that the ‘k’ in the acrostic ‘Pakistan’ stands for ‘Kashmir’—i.e., the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) popularly called ‘Kashmir’ after its most famous part, the Kashmir Valley—General Sharif’s statement appeared significant. But was it?

The jugular vein is important, even vital, to a human being’s wellbeing. It is a highly significant vessel that transfers a human’s blood between two major human organs, the brain and the heart. Sever this vein and a human being will die, or can be killed, exceedingly quickly. One way to sever the jugular vein is by cutting someone’s throat. A victim dies quickly after such a brutal action, with significant medical attention needed almost immediately in order to save them. The importance of the jugular vein therefore suggests a number of things re J&K and Pakistan. First, that they share the same, indeed identical, blood. Second, that they are part of the same body and are joined or unified by this important blood vessel. Third, that should this ‘vein’ ever be severed, both the ‘upper’ region of J&K and the ‘downstream’ or geographically lower nation of Pakistan will quickly die.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah possibly first publicised the seemingly biologically-significant relationship between J&K and Pakistan. He apparently first used the ‘jugular vein’ term to describe the inalienable link between princely J&K and the new nation of Pakistan. Allegedly, Jinnah said that “From the political and military
standpoints, Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan. No independent
country and nation can tolerate the handing over of its jugular vein
to the enemy.” I say ‘allegedly’ as the founder of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Amunallah Khan, contests this statement, claiming that Jinnah favoured independence for J&K. Khan is partly right: the All-J&K Muslim Conference, which was heavily influenced by, and ostensibly subordinate to, Jinnah’s All-India Muslim League, only came out in favour of J&K joining Pakistan as late as 22 July 1947, less than four weeks before the British left India. Beforehand, the (seemingly biologically-ignorant) Muslim Conference had favoured an independent J&K. Afterwards, in the minds of Muslim Conference and Muslim League members, J&K and Pakistan became vitally and inextricably linked. This transplanted the J&K-Pakistan relationship.

Thus, from late July 1947, pro-Pakistan J&K-ites and Pakistanis considered J&K to be of vital importance to Pakistan. Some reasonable reasons existed for this belief. First, J&K was a 77 per cent Muslim-majority princely state whose people Pakistani politicians (falsely) believed would naturally favour J&K joining Muslim Pakistan—not secular India, as finally happened, chiefly because the accession decision resided with the ruler of J&K, Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, not J&K-ites. Second, three of the major rivers that flow into Pakistan and provide it with vital irrigation water for agriculture and human survival flow through J&K: the Chenab, Jhelum and Indus. Third, on 17 August 1947, when the India-Pakistan border was officially announced, J&K obtained a long border with Pakistan and a short one with India, suggesting that J&K would unite with Pakistan. This situation changed dramatically when Hari Singh acceded to India on 26 October 1947, after which J&K in its entirety legally became part of the Indian Union. Actually, fighting that had started as early as August 1947, and which increased dramatically thereafter, had already divided the princely state into pro-Pakistan and pro-India areas. A few J&K-ites favoured independence for J&K. Post-accession, Indian J&K actually comprised Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh; Pakistan-Administered J&K consisted of Azad (Free) Kashmir and the Northern Areas (now called Gilgit-Baltistan). Since 1947—and despite J&K’s supposed vital importance to Pakistan—this nation has survived reasonably well politically, economically and socially without possessing all of J&K, or its most prized part, the Kashmir Valley.

How could this be? One major reason is because the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan has successfully regulated, and minimised, water matters between them. Basically, this treaty has taken the heat out of the water issue (to mix a metaphor), with upstream India consistently providing downstream Pakistan with agreed amounts of water annually, for over 40 years. This has largely placated Pakistani fears that India may turn the water off, or on, depending on the issue and time of year. A second reason is that, for both Pakistan and India, the area of desire, and contestation, has always been the Kashmir Valley—even though most Kashmiris probably don’t want to join either nation. Pakistanis have never really been interested in obtaining the Indian-controlled areas of Hindu-dominant Jammu and Buddhist-Shia-populated Ladakh. Thus, if ‘Kashmir’—by which Islamabad invariably means the Kashmir Valley—is the jugular vein, then these ‘lesser’ or non-Muslim-majority areas are expendable limbs the loss of which won’t kill the body.

This suggests that ‘Kashmir’ is Pakistan’s ‘jugular vein’ almost exclusively in Pakistani military minds. They demand such a scenario. Without the bitter, expensive India-Pakistan contest over Kashmir, Pakistan would not need to maintain an expensive, aggressive, politically-interventionist, essentially uncontrollable standing army of 550,000 soldiers and 500,000 reserves. Pakistan would still need an army, but this force would be smaller—and less influential. Therefore, General Sharif was using the ‘jugular’ term to remind three ‘constituents’ of the Pakistan Army’s importance, intentions/desires, and/or ‘spoiling’ power: Pakistani politicians, who need to remember their (inferior) place; Pakistani soldiers, who need to ensure their (superior) place; and India, which needs to understand that the Pakistan Army still desires Kashmir. In reality (and mauling some English), for the Pakistan Army, Kashmir is the ‘pugular’ vein (as in pugilism or fighting), ‘mugular’ vein (as in treating a person—in this case, the average Pakistani—as a mug, or idiot) or ‘tugular’ vein (as in a tug-o-war). Kashmir is not, and has never been, of vital life-or-death significance for Pakistan. The proof is that this region has been effectively and successfully separated from Pakistan since October 1947.

Christopher Snedden
13 May 2014

Identity and Freedom 24 March 2014

Identity and Freedom    24 March 2014

We identify ourselves in many ways: by gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, location, religion—or lack thereof, political beliefs, sporting affiliation, etc. In some cases, we identify ourselves by what we are not: a sort of via negativa: we are not North Koreans, nor devil worshippers, nor pedophiles, etc.

In South Asia, identity is an important issue. In my experience, people in India have a strong sense of identity. The vast majority appear to be willing citizens of the pluralist nation-state that extends over a large part of the Indian subcontinent. These Indians are diverse and different, mostly secular, and tolerant of others’ beliefs and ideas. They practice ‘unity in diversity’ and participate in an entrenched democracy. Indians and many Indian leaders appear to respect Mahatma Gandhi and, to an extent, Gandhian values and practices. They dislike the colonial and imperial forces that Gandhi opposed, which partly explains India’s long held stance of non-alignment. Finally, many Indians have some sense of Indian ‘greatness’—particularly in relation to its former glory, but also with some hope of India attaining great power status in future.

Pakistanis, conversely, have a narrower, seemingly weaker, identity. This partly results because the acrostic ‘Pakistan’ only came into existence in the 1930s. This makes Pakistanis relatively new ‘people’, certainly when compared with ‘Indians’. Possibly because of this newness, Pakistanis appear to be somewhat insecure about their identity. They unify around three factors: the shared geography of the Indus River and its surrounds; being Muslims in a nation created as a homeland for Muslims (although, problematically, not all Pakistanis are Muslims, or in the case of Ahmadis are deemed to be Muslims); and, simplistically but pronouncedly, they are not Indians. In my experience, the latter negative factor is important, with Pakistanis incessantly feeling obliged to compare themselves with their former colonial ‘bedfellows’. (By contrast, Indians invariably compare themselves with Chinese.) Recently, I heard two prominent Pakistanis proudly state that Pakistan’s foreign policy was now more internationally cooperative and engaging than India’s and that Pakistan’s media was freer than India’s. This was a big deal for these Pakistanis who, like many of their fellow citizens, want Pakistan to be superior to India and Indians wherever possible. However, this approach is tiresome and sad, particularly as Pakistan has much to offer in its own right. Indeed, Pakistanis would be better off concentrating on making Pakistan a great nation in its own right rather than continually comparing themselves with India and Indians.

In the subcontinent, identity is also important to some ethnic minorities. Indeed, some have long been fighting to have a nation-state, or a province or internal state, established around, or that reflects, their ethnicity. This includes: Balochis, some of whom have wanted a separate Balochistan nation-state created in south-western Pakistan, south-eastern Iran and southern Afghanistan, since at least 1948; Kashmiris, many of whom have strongly wanted an independent Kashmir since 1988; and Nagas in north-eastern India who having been fighting since the 1950s for freedom. Other (usually failed) examples include Tamils in Sri Lanka, Buddhists in Bangladesh, Sikhs in India, and Bodos in India. Internally, Saraiki speakers in southern (Pakistani) Punjab want a separate province. In India, the new state of Telengana is to be carved out of western Andhra Pradesh on 2 June. Conversely, in some cases, nations have expelled ‘others’. Bhutan, for example, has expelled (non-Bhutanese, non-Buddhist) Nepalis. Similarly, Hindus in Muslim-dominated Bangladesh or Pakistan have left because they have felt personally unwelcome or threatened. Equally, Muslims have left India for these nations, chiefly Pakistan.

Kashmiris particularly have a strong sense of identity. According to Kalhana’s Rajatarangini, A Chronicle of the Kings of Kashmir, they can trace Kashmiri rulers’ to at least 1182 BCE. More recently, Kashmiris have claimed that their culture and relations are overseen by a concept known as Kashmiriyat (Kashmiriness). While this term has been popularised since the Kashmiris’ instigated their anti-Indian uprising in 1988, it involves equality, tolerance for people of other religions, and inclusivity. These supposedly have come out of Kashmiris’ strong Muslim rishi tradition, which possibly has pre-Vedic roots. Arguably (and unfairly), it also is easy for Muslim Kashmiris to be tolerant of non-Muslims if only because Muslims comprise (at least) 95 per cent of all Kashmiris. The majority group has nothing to fear locally from non-Muslims. Whether Kashmiriyat extends to ‘others’ in Indian Jammu and Kashmir is another question. Non-Kashmiri Jammuites and Ladakhis may suggest that it doesn’t.

One irony of subcontinental identity concerns the right to self-determination. From about 1915, people known collectively as Indians increasingly campaigned for self-rule (swaraj) from the British. In 1947, after securing independent dominion status, these former British subjects were divided on the basis of religion into (post-partition) Indians and Pakistanis. The latter comprised West Pakistanis (Balochis, Hazaras, Mohajirs (refugees from India and their descendants), Pukhtoons, Punjabis, Sindhis, etc.) and East Pakistanis (chiefly Bengalis). Despite fighting for, and being granted, their freedom, Indians and Pakistanis have not been prepared to allow other subcontinentals to obtain a similar status. In South Asia, the only successful post-partition example of an area obtaining independence is Bangladesh in 1971. The East Pakistanis/Bangladeshis were motivated by West Pakistanis’ arrogance, exploitation and brutality. At the strategic moment, the Indian Army also significantly helped them. Arguably, their greatest asset was the physical distance between Pakistan’s two wings, which made integration difficult and, ultimately, suppression impossible.

History shows that the nation-state is reluctant to (seemingly) weaken itself by releasing territory, even if the retention of the recalcitrant area and its people involves significant ongoing costs, bloodshed, and opprobrium. Consider Balochistan for Pakistan and Kashmir for India. In both areas, some people consider the controlling nation to be repressive and colonial. Furthermore, their primary local identity trumps any national identity. Nevertheless, Indian and Pakistani leaders seemingly adhere to the subjugating principle of ‘do as I say, not do as my forebears did’. History also suggests that this approach will be difficult. Indeed, ultimately, it may be untenable.

Christopher Snedden
24 March 2014

Has the Kashmir dispute been temporarily resolved? 29 January 2014

Has the Kashmir dispute been temporarily resolved?     29 January 2014

Having been in Islamabad for a few days, I have been pondering whether the Kashmir dispute has been temporarily resolved. In the last few years, we have seen little substantial diplomatic movement by either India or Pakistan to actively try to resolve this vexed and seemingly intractable issue. Indeed, India-Pakistan relations have worsened in the last year due to some serious and unsavoury incidents across the Line of Control that have upset Indians, particularly some in the Indian Army. Most recently, in J&K itself, trade across the Line of Control has ceased due to India’s arrest of a truck driver from the other ‘side’ who allegedly has smuggled narcotics. In response or retaliation, Pakistan has detained 27 truck drivers from the Indian side. Trade has been suspended for two weeks as officials locally and in New Delhi and Islamabad try to resolve the matter.

More broadly and despite Pakistan’s new leadership, New Delhi has been occupied dealing with other international and domestic issues. Internationally, India is engaging with, and being wooed by, an array of nations seeking to couple their bilateral relations with, and to benefit from, India’s seemingly slow but inevitable progress towards being a great power. Locally, Indian politicians have been positioning themselves and their parties for the forthcoming Indian elections. Consequently, New Delhi seemingly has little time or interest to deal with Islamabad in a serious or substantive way on advancing any of the major India-Pakistan issues, with the possible exception of trade. Similarly, some Pakistanis are concerned that India’s potential prime minister, Narendra Modi, who they believe is a hardline anti-Pakistani, may not ‘give an inch’ on any issue, especially J&K.

It is too early to predict the outcome of the Indian elections. Furthermore, given the nature of politics, it remains to be seen how hardline Mr Modi will, or actually can, be, should he become India’s prime minister. Currently, however, Islamabad has not been able to advance the India-Pakistan relationship, except rhetorically. Nawaz Sharif has talked of wanting to normalise Pakistan’s relations with India, which has been helpful. Yet, despite being a businessman and politician, he has not been able to bring himself to grant India the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status that would normalise the India-Pakistan trade relationship. This is partly because some Pakistanis object to this terminology, believing (incorrectly) that such a move will grant India special privileges. Equally, Sharif’s seeming reluctance to deal positively with India may partially be explained because he is waiting to see which Indian leader with whom Pakistan will eventually have to deal.

Sharif’s reluctance also reflects some indecisiveness in Pakistan as it grapples with a number of other issues. These include whether to fight the anti-social Tehreek-e-Taliban (Pakistan Taliban) or to negotiate with them or to undertake both activities simultaneously; how to successfully, and as painlessly as possible, address Pakistan’s major internal economic, social and political woes, particularly in places such the ethnic and political hotspot of Karachi, the backward and Taliban-infested Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and in perennially disgruntled Balochistan; and, dealing with the inevitable tension and instability that will arise in post-ISAF Afghanistan and which invariably will impact on Pakistan, most probably negatively.

The serious matter of post-ISAF Afghanistan is, arguably, the issue engaging Islamabad’s strategic planners the most. It seems to me that they are very concerned about Pakistan having to deal with some potentially serious instability on its western wing while still having to confront a somewhat assertive India on their heavily-militarised eastern border. The recent United States-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue will make Pakistanis feel a little more comfortable with their strategic situation—but only a little. They remain terribly concerned about, and focused on, India, about which they obsess and to which they invariably, but unnecessarily, compare Pakistan.

As a result, we are seeing a short term, and somewhat clever, strategy by Pakistan in relation to the Kashmir dispute. This strategy involves seeking stability in the east by not pushing to resolve the J&K issue with India while, concurrently, saying publically and more often that Pakistan does not want J&K but that, instead, it wants ‘Kashmiris’ to be able to have an act of self-determination to decide their international status. By Kashmiris, the Pakistanis seemingly mean all of the people of J&K, although Islamabad’s focus appears to be on the Indian-controlled Kashmir Valley and the serious human rights violations there. This is the clever part of the strategy: Pakistan is attempting to take the ‘high moral ground’ by focusing on what it considers to be India’s serious and diabolical actions in the Kashmir Valley against ethnic Kashmiris. New Delhi is assisting Islamabad by not actively and openly pursuing human rights violations and by recently allowing the Indian Army to close an investigation into five soldiers accused of killing five supposed ‘terrorists’ in Anantnag in 2000.

Equally, clever, Islamabad is magnanimously wanting to empower the long-suffering but politically-expendable people of J&K (particularly those in the clearly non-pro-Pakistan regions of Jammu and Ladakh) to let them decide their fate. This makes Islamabad appear to be a paragon of virtue in relation to empowering ‘native’ peoples (i.e. J&K-ites) and their inalienable rights to self-determination. Nevertheless, only two options appear to remain available to J&K-ites: join J&K either with India or with Pakistan. Independence, which some, perhaps many, J&K-ites desire for J&K is not an option.

Pakistan’s strategy is likely to be in place until Afghanistan becomes sufficiently stable or until a regime emerges in Kabul that is to Pakistan’s liking. While clever, it could backfire as others highlight Pakistan’s own human rights violations and/or lack of allowing self-determination to people in places such as Balochistan. In relation to the Kashmir dispute, it means that we are unlikely to see very little movement in the next few years. This could change if there is a major post-election political and mindset shift in New Delhi. Otherwise, there is no pressing imperative for India and Pakistan to resolve their dispute over J&K. Therefore, effectively—although neither actually nor efficiently—the Kashmir dispute would appear to be ‘resolved’ for the next few years.

Christopher Snedden
29 January 2014

Actual and Perceptional ‘Borders’ in J&K 22 January 2014



Map above from The Economist, 8 February 2012, www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/05/indian_pakistani_and_chinese_border_disputes


Actual and Perceptional ‘Borders’ in J&K     22 January 2014

The dispute over the international status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is old, complicated and convoluted. India and Pakistan have been engaged in this matter emotionally, diplomatically and militarily from before the British left the Indian subcontinent in August 1947. J&K was then important to them because the princely state—commonly called ‘Kashmir’ after its most famous region—was prestigious. In 1947, J&K was India’s largest princely state. It had international borders with Afghanistan, China and (then independent) Tibet; the USSR’s Tajikistan Republic was nearby to the north. Some major rivers flowed through J&K: the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. Finally, J&K would share post-partition borders with Pakistan and India, albeit short with India, with both nations wanting to include the princely state in their territory.

In the finish, neither nation secured all of J&K. Since 1947, the former princely state has been militarily-divided between India, which controls Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, and Pakistan, which administers Azad (Free) Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. China controls two areas nominally under J&K’s control in 1947: Aksai Chin and Shaksgam. Officially, India claims all of the territory ‘occupied’ by Pakistan and China because the ruler of J&K, Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, acceded to India on 26 October 1947. For New Delhi, all of J&K is an ‘integral part of India’. Pakistan is administering ‘its’ areas until a United Nations-supervised plebiscite can be held to determine whether the people of J&K want ‘their’ state, in its entirety, to join India or Pakistan. India and China, as part of their ongoing territorial and border negotiations, are discussing Aksai Chin. Beijing has said that it will renegotiate its control of Shaksgam should India and Pakistan resolve their dispute over J&K.

Interestingly, but problematically, India and Pakistan each has a different perception as to what comprises the former princely state. Official Indian maps show all of J&K as being Indian territory, even though civilian Indians have never set foot in areas outside India’s control: Azad Kashmir; Gilgit-Baltistan; Aksai Chin; Shaksgam. Official Pakistani maps show the Gilgit Agency as not being part of the ‘disputed territory’ of J&K. (Such maps also often show Junagadh and Manavadar, whose rulers acceded to Pakistan in 1947, as being Pakistan’s.) Although the British controlled the Gilgit Agency from the 1880s, they publicly returned (or retroceded) control of this territory to the Maharaja of J&K on 1 August 1947. Therefore, Gilgit is part of J&K, and of the Kashmir dispute.

India is fussy about maps of J&K, with New Delhi sometimes insisting that publications must use its official map of the former princely state. In 2012, New Delhi censored editions of The Economist that included a map showing the actual situation on the ground in disputed J&K  (like the map above), rather than showing all of J&K as being Indian territory. For this reason, I chose not include any maps in my book about Azad Kashmir that was published internationally in 2012, and in Pakistan and India in 2013.

Another issue is terminology. The India-Pakistan dispute over J&K is known as ‘the Kashmir dispute’ because, when the princely state was created in 1846, the most prestigious and reasonably autonomous part of the entity was Kashmir. Fairly quickly thereafter, both J&K and its rulers came to be called ‘Kashmir’. For this reason, although the dispute over J&K should be called the ‘Jammu and Kashmir dispute’, it is known instead as the ‘Kashmir dispute’. Otherwise, when Indians use the term ‘Kashmir’, they are referring to the Kashmir Valley that India controls and which Pakistan desires. For Indians, residents of Kashmir are ethnic Kashmiris. When Pakistanis use the term ‘Kashmir’, they may be referring to the Kashmir Valley. More often, they are referring to the entire former princely state. Similarly, when Pakistanis use the term ‘Kashmiri’, they may be referring to an ethnic Kashmiri. More often, they are referring to a resident of the former princely state. Pakistanis also talk of an ‘Azad Kashmiri’. This is a resident of the ‘Azad Kashmir’ region who, more often than not, is not an ethnic Kashmiri.

Neither India nor Pakistan knows how—nor seemingly is prepared—to resolve their dispute over J&K. Pakistan officially wants the UN plebiscite held, which is untenable for India. Conversely, India wants it and Pakistan to resolve this bilateral matter, although unofficially Pakistan might like mediation by a third party, possibly the United States, which also is untenable for India. However, the Kashmir dispute already has trilateral aspects. J&K-ites (my term for the people of J&K) are the third party to this dispute. Furthermore, in 1963, Pakistan ceded territory that India considers to be its to China; since 1948, the UN Security Council has been involved with India and Pakistan re J&K and could, if desired, re-open this matter sidelined since 1965; and, the UN has its Military Observer Group that monitors the Line of Control that divides J&K into Indian and Pakistan-administered areas.

Having been involved analysing the Kashmir dispute since 1984, I know that this issue generates considerable argument among Indians, Pakistanis and J&K-ites. Surprisingly, I have found only one matter about which India and Pakistan agree in their entire dispute over J&K: that neither J&K, nor any part of it, can have independence. This ‘agreement’ is counter to the azadi (independence) that some, perhaps many, J&K-ites living in places such as Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Mirpur, may desire. That said, we don’t know what status, or statuses, J&K-ites actually want as they have never been asked this question in any inclusive or conclusive way. Indeed, J&K-ites are the forgotten element of the Kashmir dispute—even though they actually instigated the fight over J&K’s international status before India or Pakistan was officially involved in the state and even though this fight is over their lands. This makes J&K-ites the first party to the Kashmir dispute—a fact not recognised, or forgotten, by India and Pakistan. When it comes to J&K, there is little agreement between anyone, it seems.

Christopher Snedden
22 January 2014

Climate and ‘climate change’ in J&K; 6 January 2014

Dras 2

Climate and ‘climate change’ in J&K; 6 January 2014

Newspapers are reporting that the divided state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is experiencing its annual cold spell. Quoting a ‘weather official’, the Kashmir Times (http://kashmirtimes.com/newsdet.aspx?q=27308) states that ‘The minimum temperature [in Indian J&K] was 12.4 degrees Celsius below the freezing point in Pahalgam last night [4 January] – [the] coldest [place] in the Kashmir Valley. It was 4.2 degrees Celsius below zero in Srinagar and minus 9.8 degrees Celsius in Gulmarg … Leh town recorded a minimum of minus 8.6 degrees Celsius and Kargil recorded minus 16.1 degrees … The minimum temperature in Jammu city was 5.6 degrees – two degrees below what is normal for this time of the season’. Pakistani newspapers have reported ‘cold spells’ throughout Pakistan and Pakistan-Administered J&K, including many temperatures below zero and road closures in northern Azad Kashmir. The Pamir Times, Gilgit, has reported that protesters in a local dispute in the Chilas area have blocked the Karakoram Highway, stranding ‘commuters … in sub-zero temperature[s]’ (http://pamirtimes.net/2012/01/11/kkh-blockade-enters-third-day-thousands-of-commuters-suffer-in-cold-weather/).

J&K has a diverse range of climates, ranging from extremely elevated and cold regions in its north and north-east, including glacial areas, to more monsoonal and temperate regions around Jammu and Mirpur at the northern end of the Punjab plains. While Jammu city in J&K’s south is far warmer than other parts of Indian J&K, this state includes the town of Drass (or Dras), which is supposedly the second coldest inhabited place in the world. Drass experiences extreme cold from mid-October to mid-May, with average lows around −22°C, although temperatures have gone as low as −45°C. Such temperatures, plus invariable associated road closures, impair India’s ability to move military materiel to troops stationed in Ladakh where they patrol the Siachen Glacier area or defend against Chinese forces across the Line of Actual Control. Similarly, the effects of cold weather often block the important Srinagar-Jammu road, making the transport of goods and people to or from Kashmir impossible for periods of time. In the depths of winter, air transport to J&K also is often hampered by bad weather, with flights to places such as Srinagar or Gilgit delayed or cancelled. On such occasions—which I, at times, have experienced—one realises how isolated and remote many of the people of J&K are, particularly those living beyond the Pir Panjal range in the Kashmir Valley, or in even more remote locations such as Gilgit or Ladakh.

Winter in the popular tourist destination of the Kashmir Valley is interesting—and cold (for an Australian, at least). Interestingly, Kashmir has ski fields at Gulmarg, although visitor numbers are down this year. Apart from this resort, few visitors come to Kashmir in winter. Traditionally, Kashmir’s cold weather starts on 21 December. It lasts for 72 days and can be divided into three periods: chillai kalan, extreme cold of forty days; chillai khurd, the ‘small cold’ of twenty days; and chillai baccha, the ‘baby cold’ of ten days. And it is cold! I remember once sleeping under a swathe of blankets and quilts in a Srinagar bed in the depths of winter and being extremely reluctant the next morning to get up and go out into the freezing air. Outside the warm house, the city was awash with a mixture of foot-chilling snow, ice and motor-induced slush. I needed warm and water-proof boots, coat and headwear to walk around for any period of time. Thermal underwear or a Kashmiri kangri (a small portable pot filled with warming charcoal embers) was helpful at such times. I experienced similar conditions in Muzaffarabad in winter, but not as cold.

Every year, northern India, northern Pakistan and all of J&K experience varying degrees of cold weather for differing lengths of time, with it generally being colder the more northerly one goes. And, although northern parts of the subcontinent, including J&K, are currently experiencing chilly spells, I have not seen reports that these are un-seasonally cold or that they are due to the impacts of climate change. Nevertheless, some people consider that climate change is causing Himalayan glaciers, many of which are located in J&K, to melt. In the short term, this will make more water available for people downstream. Ultimately, it could result in a major change to J&K’s climate and environment. Other issues in J&K possibly associated with climate change are hotter summers, variable or erratic snowfalls, and reduced rainfall during agriculturally productive warmer months, with paddy and saffron yields down in recent years. Consequently, the Indian J&K Government is taking the issue of climate change seriously. Last December, it presented a draft Action Plan on Climate Change to India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The issue of climate change in J&K, and certainly in relation to the Kashmir region, is not a new one. I recently came across an article in the Science journal from 1907 (Vol. XXV, No. 629, January 18, 1907) that discussed ‘The climate [in the Vale of Kashmir]’. It was described in 1905 ‘as [being] warm and damp from June to August, though but little rain falls; mild and delightful in April, May, September and October; and cold and snowy in winter, when “bracing” is not infrequently less true to the actual conditions than “rigorous.” … A study of the physiographic features of the region, especially of the river terraces, as well as of the human history, leads to the conclusion that there has been a transition from colder or damper climatic conditions two thousand years or more ago to warmer or drier conditions to-day. This transition appears … to be part of a wide-spread climatic change extending at least from Persia and the Caspian Sea on the west to the borders of China proper three thousand miles away on the east.’

One problem with climate change is that it is hard to actually determine whether current occurrences are climatic aberrations or major climatic, and possibly cataclysmic, change. Based on the 1907 article, however, climate change in J&K possibly is nothing new.

Christopher Snedden
6 January 2014

Article 370 and Indian Jammu and Kashmir; 10 December 2013



Article 370 and Indian Jammu and Kashmir; 10 December 2013

Indian prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, has raised the issue of the Indian Constitution’s Article 370 and its benefit for the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Although Article 370 supposedly guarantees autonomy to Indian Jammu and Kashmir (IJ&K), any such autonomy disappeared long ago.

Article 370 was included in the Indian Constitution in 1952 as a ‘temporary provision’, presumably until J&K’s international status was resolved and the state was finally integrated into India, as New Delhi expected would happen. Under this article, the Indian government was supposedly only responsible for defence, foreign affairs and communications. The IJ&K government of the day retained all other powers. This allowed the IJ&K state—comprising Jammu, the Kashmir Valley (or Kashmir) and Ladakh—significant autonomy. India’s input in IJ&K was limited to inter-state disputes, people’s fundamental rights and the three matters mentioned above.

Historically, Article 370 was created as a result of the controversial circumstances surrounding Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India on 26 October 1947. It was designed to appease Kashmiris uncertain about whether J&K should join India or Pakistan. It also unofficially recognised that India needed the Muslim Kashmiri leader, Sheikh Abdullah, and that New Delhi was agreeable to his terms for J&K joining the Indian Union (rather than Pakistan). In 1950, Abdullah was popular, politically powerful, and had considerable influence, including with his friend, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s prime minister. Nehru, who had Kashmiri ancestors, had an emotional attachment to the Kashmir Valley that, on occasions, clouded his otherwise rational approach to resolving difficult matters. He needed Abdullah to shore up India’s position in J&K, particularly amongst the Muslim-majority population living in the prized Kashmir region, possession of which Nehru was reluctant to forego. This related to India’s hope of winning the plebiscite that India’s leaders had promised, rather hastily, in 1947 to the people of J&K. J&K-ites were to determine whether J&K, in its entirety, would join India or Pakistan. But India’s desire to hold this poll faded quickly, chiefly because it felt that it would ‘lose’. Concurrently, a disenchanted Abdullah reverted to an earlier position favouring J&K being independent from both (secular) India and (Islamic) Pakistan. His stance was unacceptable to Nehru. As a result, Abdullah was sacked as IJ&K prime minister on 8 August 1953.

With the popular Abdullah sidelined, New Delhi steadily and consistently eroded IJ&K’s supposed autonomy. Local IJ&K politicians ably assisted India, starting with the administration led by Abdullah’s immediate successor, the necessarily (and possibly genuinely) pro-Indian, Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad. Thereafter, to all intents and purposes, IJ&K became just another Indian state. It is now fully integrated into the Indian political system. IJ&K voters send four representatives to India’s Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and six to its Lok Sabha (Lower House). The IJ&K prime minister, like is his counterparts elsewhere in India, is now called chief minister. The Indian tricolor flies throughout the state. The New Delhi-appointed Governor or Indian President is able to impose Governor’s Rule or President’s Rule on IJ&K. The Indian Administrative Service’s J&K cadre populates the IJ&K bureaucracy. People in IJ&K can obtain legal remedies through the Indian Supreme Court. Most persuasively, since 1947, IJ&K has become part of India economically. With no other transport options available, IJ&K is totally reliant on India for all of its goods and services. Consequently, IJ&K has become fully integrated with India commercially, financially and communications-wise.

So what’s the big deal? Article 370 has become a symbolic device that people use in different ways. For many Indians, especially non-Muslims, Article 370 is unfair, even abhorrent. It grants IJ&K, whose majority population comprises Muslims—although, as far as I can determine, the 2011 Indian Census does not confirm this situation—a special status not given to other Indians or Indian states. These anti-Article 370 Indians include members of Modi’s right-wing BJP. They want IJ&K to become a normal, or non-special, state fully incorporated into the Indian Union. Conveniently, this would allow them to purchase land and property in IJ&K, an option currently only available to ‘state subjects’ of IJ&K. This status arises from a law passed in princely J&K in 1927 and retained thereafter throughout J&K after 1947, with the exception of Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan. Naturally, some people in IJ&K fear being swamped should they lose state subject status.

Anti-Article 370 Indians also include many Jammuites and Ladakhis. They claim that they have long endured Kashmiri domination of IJ&K. Politically, ethnic Kashmiris have 47 seats in the IJ&K Legislative Assembly, giving them an absolute majority over Jammuites’ 37 seats—even though Jammu may have more electors than Kashmir—and Ladakhis’ three seats. Economically, Kashmiris get a larger share of state resources, jobs and services. Emotionally, New Delhi’s attention mainly goes to Kashmir and Kashmiris. Jammuites, particularly, and Ladakhis therefore would be happy to see IJ&K become a ‘normal’ Indian state without any special privileges. Many also may want the state bifurcated into two regions comprising Jammu-Ladakh and Kashmir, or even trifurcated into its three component regions. BJP politicians may be prepared to consider such proposals.

For Kashmiris, most of whom are Muslims, Article 370’s existence confirms that New Delhi acknowledges that this Muslim community is important, needs to be treated specially—and wooed. Additionally, IJ&K is India’s only Muslim-majority state. But, while Muslims comprise IJ&K’s majority population, they are part of a minority in secular, but Hindu-dominant, India. Kashmiris have cleverly extracted benefits from India for their special status. The removal of Article 370 would eliminate this specialness. Some Kashmiris say this would cause them to rethink whether they want to part of India. Such talk has concerned Congress-led governments that consider the Kashmiris’ presence in India—not in Islamic Pakistan—helps to confirm India’s secular credentials. Conversely, a BJP-led government possibly intent on Indian-ising, or even Hindu-ising, all Indians, regardless of their religion, causes Muslim Kashmiris angst. For them, Narendra Modi has possibly unleashed a monster.

Christopher Snedden
10 December 2013