Asia

Kashmir: Why India and Pakistan fight over it

  • 23 November 2016
  • From the section Asia
Indian soldiers leave the site of a gun battle in Pampore, on the outskirts of Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, 12 October Image copyright AP
Image caption Indian soldiers near Srinagar in October 2016

They waged two wars over it and are now nuclear armed. Why do India and Pakistan dispute Kashmir?

How old is this fight?

Even before India and Pakistan won their independence from Britain in August 1947, Kashmir was hotly contested.

Under the partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act, Kashmir was free to accede to India or Pakistan.

The maharaja (local ruler), Hari Singh, chose India and a two-year war erupted in 1947.

A new war followed in 1965, while in 1999 India fought a brief but bitter conflict with Pakistani-backed forces.

By that time, India and Pakistan had both declared themselves to be nuclear powers.

Why so much unrest inside the Indian part?

Many people in the territory do not want it to be governed by India, preferring instead either independence or union with Pakistan.

The population of the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir is more than 60% Muslim, making it the only state within India where Muslims are in the majority.

High unemployment and complaints of heavy-handed tactics by security forces battling street protesters and fighting insurgents have aggravated the problem.

Weren't there high hopes for peace in the new century?

India and Pakistan did indeed agree a ceasefire in 2003 after years of bloodshed along the de facto border (formally known as the Line of Control).

Pakistan later promised to stop funding insurgents in the territory while India offered them an amnesty if they renounced militancy.

Then, in 2014, a new Indian government came to power promising a tough line on Pakistan.

Are we back to square one?

A bloody summer of street protests in the Indian-administered part had already raised tension this year before a militant attack on Indian soldiers left 19 dead in September.

Blaming the attack on a Pakistan-based militant group, the Indian military responded with cross-border raids.

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