On Justice for Kashmir

Falk, Richard
Date Written:  2022-12-16
Publisher:  CounterPunch
Year Published:  2022
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX24774

Among the self-determination struggles of our time, Kashmir is at risk of being forgotten by most of the world (except for Pakistan), while its people continue to endure the harsh crimes of India’s intensifying military occupation that has already lasted 75 years.



1947 was a momentous year for South Asia as British colonial rule came to an end, followed by a partition of India that resulted in much bloodshed throughout the process of establishing the Muslim state of Pakistan alongside the secular Hindu majority state of India. At this time, Kashmir was one of 560 ‘princely states’ in India, governed by a Hindu Maharajah while having a population that was 77% Muslim. The partition agreement reached by India and Pakistan gave the peoples of these ‘states’ a partial right of self-determination in the form of a free choice as to whether to remain a part of India or join their destiny with that of Pakistan, and in either event retaining considerable independence by way of self-rule. It was widely assumed that these choices would favor India if their population was Hindu and to Pakistan if Muslim. In a confused and complicated set of circumstances that involved Kashmiris and others contesting the Maharahah’s leadership of Kashmir, India engaged in a variety of maneuvers including a large-scale military intervention to avoid the timely holding of the promised internationally supervised referendum, and by stages coercively treated Kashmir more and more as an integral part of India. This Indian betrayal of the partition settlement agreement gave rise to the first of several wars with Pakistan, and it resulted in a division of Kashmir in 1948 that was explicitly not an international boundary, but intended as a temporary ‘line-of-control’ to separate the opposed armed forces. It has ever since given rise to acute tension erupting in recurrent warfare between the two countries, and even now no international boundary exists between divided Kashmir. The leadership of Pakistan has always believed that Kashmir was a natural projection of itself, treating India’s behavior as occupying power as totally unacceptable and illegitimate as have the majority of Kashmiris.

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