When Will The Kashmiri People Live In Peace?
By: Dejon Virgo
This February, Indian forces were attacked by a suicide bomber in the region of Kashmir. 40 Indian soldiers were killed. The attacker was 19 year old Adil Ahmad Dar, a member of the Islamic militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed that’s based in Pakistan.
A couple days later India produced airstrikes in north western Pakistan then Pakistan shot down an Indian aircraft. Tensions quickly flared between the two nations after years of relative peace.
The India and Pakistan rivalry goes back to when the borders were being drawn after India gained independence from the British empire in the late 1940s.
The area of Kashmir is the main problem between the two countries, as the region covers three countries: India, Pakistan, and China. China invaded India, then Pakistan gave China more land.
India and Pakistan were left to argue about the rest of Kashmir because while the land is split between the two, both countries claimed more land.
According to Vox, in the 1800s India was controlled by the British empire and it was made up of states and provinces. When the British left in the 1940s they split some of the land into Pakistan and East Pakistan, which was mostly Muslim while the rest of the land was given to Hindu India.
The tensions didn’t stop there and the era of Indian partition was very bloody and violent. The Hindus living in Pakistan fled to India and the Muslims living in India fled to Pakistan to escape the violence in both countries.
In the Kashmir region there was a king that tried to stay neutral in the conflict but Pakistan feared that the monarch would join India so they rebuilt.
The local population did rebuild in Kashmir. Pakistan joined them so the monarch turned to India for help and that started the first Indo-Pakistan war.
The UN got involved and created a peace deal that split the region into two. They also tried to schedule a vote for the Kashmiri people but both countries refused to cooperate.
Pakistan said that the Muslim population belonged to them while India said that the region was given to them by the Hindu monarch. Neither countries came to any type of peace agreement but they doubled down on their “rightful claims.”
India even added Kashmir to its constitution in 1965. The second Indo-Pakistan war broke out with both sides facing terrible losses in Kashmir.
A cease fire stopped the war but not the situation.
In 1971 the third Indo-Pakistan war broke out not in Kashmir, but in East Pakistan. India helped separatists fight for independence and Pakistan lost.
The region of East Pakistan became Bangladesh.
Vox mentions this loss for Pakistan made the region of Kashmir even more important for Pakistan, as it became one of the most militarized zones in the world. In 1987 it seemed like India rigged the election, making Kashmiris feel like they were denied the right to vote.
They took to the streets and India started to crack down on the protests with violence.
This became fertile ground for Muslim terrorists who recruited Muslim youth to attack the Indian military. Pakistan then created a new terrorist group that would fight for Kashmir to be more pro-Pakistan.
India responded by moving more troops and weapons into the region, cracking down on protestors.
The stacks got higher when both countries started to conduct nuclear tests and later became nuclear powers. In 1999 the fourth Indo-Pakistani war broke out.
The war over Kashmir ended with another cease fire but the Pakistani-backed militia didn’t stop and got more violent.
One of the militias in 2001 bombed the Indian parliament building, killing 14 people. In Mumbai in 2008 a couple more people from the same group killed 174 and wounded 300.
India cracked down on protestors and created a cycle of events: a terrorist attack occurs, India cracks down on it, and the terrorist group recruits more suicide bombers.
This cycle hurts the Kashmiri people the most because they’re the ones in the middle of this conflict that has lasted over 70 years.
After all the violence the Kashmiri people still did not get their chance to vote on their future, which many countries including India and Pakistan seem to forget.