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Kashmir: Hidden War Fast Facts

by Edward Hasbrouck


  1. The term "State" has deceptively different meanings in pre- and post-1947 Indian usage. Prior to the independence and partition of india and Pakistan, the princely "States" were feudal fiefdoms, nominally sovereign and allowed internal autonomy by Britain in exchange for their acceptance of Britain's paramountcy over their external relations. Since 1947 the term "State" has been applied to the states of the Republic of India, including both states assembled from both former British-administered Provinces (most of which became States in their own right) and those comprised of former princely States.

    The Indian National Congress recognized the sovereignty of the States by excluding them from its campaign against British imperial rule in the Provinces; parallel anti- monarchist democratic movements, such as the All-Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, were working simultaneously in various States.

    The maharajas of several states, including Jammu and Kashmir, asserted -- with good legal cause -- that the removal of British paramountcy left them independent. Britain, however, was embarrassed by the repressive backwardness of princely rule and reluctant to create any more newly-independent states than necessary, and acquiesced in the forcible annexation of all the holdout states, including J and K, by either India or Pakistan.

    So the fact that the same territory is shown on pre- and post-1947 Indian maps as "the State of Jammu and Kashmir, India" obscures a fundamental change in the region's status and degree of autonomy (as well as the change in the meaning of "India").

  2. "Communal" and "Communalism" are pejorative terms common in other English-speaking countries but little-used and often misunderstood by readers in the USA. They do not refer to communism but, rather, to exclusive concern for the interests of one's own group -- racial, tribal, ethnic, religious, caste, etc. -- at the expense of others.

Mission Statement of the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference

"The All-Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) is a coalition of 23 Kashmiri political parties. It was established in January of 1993 to unite the disparate factions of the Kashmiri self-determination movement behind a common political platform and a political leadership.

"The Conference seeks a constructive dialogue with the Government of India. It is further the mandate of the Conference to pursue the assistance of the United Nations and the Western democracies to help forge a peaceful, political settlement of the dispute.

"The APHC holds that the only way to achieve a peaceful and lasting solution to the Kashmir crisis is through dialogue and negotiation. To this end, the Conference will seek to achieve the following objectives:

  1. "Acceptance by the Government of India of the United States and United Nations position that Kashmir is a "disputed territory" whose final status is yet to be determined, having regard to the aspirations of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir;
  2. "The convening of a Tripartite conference -- between the governments of India, Pakistan, and legitimate representatives of the Kashmiri people -- to negotiate a final settlement under the supervision and with the help of the U.N. and/or any friendly country;
  3. "The sending of a personal envoy by the Secretary General of the U.N. to Kashmir to investigate and report on the situation;
  4. "Securing access to Kashmir for humanitarian relief organizations such as the International Red Cross / Red Crescent and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International;
  5. "Cessation by the Government of India of its military crackdown, and withdrawal of its paramilitary troops to barracks.

"Under the constitutional framework of the APHC, with provisions for the formal election of a Conference President and other executive officers, these representatives will serve as the unified political leadership of the broader kashmiri political community.

"The Government of India has refused all dialogue with moderate elements in the Kashmiri political community. It has chosen instead to enact a violent crackdown on all political dissent in Kashmir. In so doing, India has committed brutal acts of rape, torture, and murder against thousands of innocent civilians.

"The unfortunate result of India's brutality and intransigence has been the rise of an armed resistance, which sees no hope of a peaceful negotiated settlement. Each day that India kills more innocent Kashmiris, it strengthens the armed resistance, and weakens those who still believe that a peaceful and negotiated settlement can be achieved.

"The goal of this Conference is to rebuild the Kashmiri people's belief in a peaceful resolution, by energetically pursuing such a settlement. Only such a settlement, reached through tripartite negotiations, can remove the dangerous nuclear trip-wire between India and Pakistan and provide lasting peace to the region."

[War Resisters League member Edward Hasbrouck has travelled on both sides of the Indo-Pak cease- fire line in Kashmir, as well as elsewhere in India, Pakistan, China, East Turkestan, Russia, and ex-Soviet Central Asia.]

[Originally published in abridged form as part of an occasional series on "Hidden Wars" in the January/February 1995 issue of The Nonviolent Activist, the journal of the War Resisters League. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily those of the WRL.]

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