Short History of Kashmir – 1

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The ‘greater’ Kashmir region comprises India’s Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) state, and Pakistan’s autonomous regions of Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), which India calls “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir” (PoK). All the areas are marked out properly in the Map by MapsOfIndia.

At the time of the Partition of India in 1947, the British gave up their suzerainty over 565 princely states and left each free to choose whether to join India or Pakistan, or to remain independent. Undivided Kashmir’s Muslim majority wanted to join Pakistan, but the Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh wanted it to be part of India.

To postpone making any hurried decision, he signed a “Standstill Agreement” with Pakistan, which ensured continuity of trade, travel, and communications.

On October 21, 1947, thousands of Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, led by Pakistani Army officers, poured into Kashmir to liberate it from the Maharaja. They were assisted by pro-Pakistan rebels from parts of undivided Kashmir.

On October 24, Hari Singh requested military assistance from India, which said that it would not help unless he acceded. On October 26, he signed an “Instrument of Accession” with India, which immediately airlifted troops to Srinagar.

Pakistan contended that the Maharaja acted fraudulently under duress, and that he had no right to sign the Instrument of Accession while the Standstill Agreement was still in force. Fighting ensued between the Indian and Pakistani armies, with the areas of control stabilised along what is now the “Line of Control” (LOC).

After Nehru agreed for United Nations intervention, a ceasefire was declared on December 31, 1948. What was the point of Nehru agreeing to this, when India was winning and would not have to give up territory to Pakistan? India and Pakistan have fought two more wars for the territory. Read all about it in my book DEMYTHSIFYING MYTHS. The book is also available on Amazon.

Pakistan divided parts of Kashmir that it occupied into the 72,971 km2 Gilgit Baltistan and the 13,297 km2 AJK. In 1963, Pakistan ceded the Shaksgam tract (Aksai Chin) to China.

In the 1971 Indo-Pak war for the liberation (independence) of Bangladesh, the Indian Army recaptured most of AJK/PoK back.

In July 1972, the Simla Agreement was signed between Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the then President of Pakistan, and Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India.

The Simla treaty ensured that Pakistan recognized the independence of Bangladesh in exchange for the return of Pakistani “Prisoners of War” (PoWs). India released more than 93,000 Pakistani PoWs in five months. That was fine, as it was a humane gesture.

But the Simla Accord also gave back 13,000 km2 of land that Indian troops had seized in West Pakistan during the war, though India retained a few strategic areas, most notable being Kargil. Why was this land given back? So it was not just Nehru who ceded Indian territory to Pakistan, but his daughter Indira as well. This is also covered in a dedicated chapter in DEMYTHSIFYING MYTHS.

In the recent reorganisation of India’s Jammu & Kashmir state into two Indian territories (J&K and Ladakh), Home Minister Amit Shah said (on the floor of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) that BJP will claim POK, and BJP leaders/workers are willing to lay down their lives for this. I hope he meant not just AJK, but Gilgit Baltistan as well.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised rapid development of J&K and Ladakh under central rule. People of these regions have waited almost 72 years for this.

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