The Resolution of Kashmir Conflict
Since partition, the dispute of Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. It is called as the nuclear flash point of South Asia because of the war threat it poses to the peace and security of the region. Since 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars over this issue i.e. 1948, 1965, and 1999. Both rivals have been engaged in border skirmishes, often. This conflict has also enhanced the region’s nuclear arms race, which can potentially disturb stability in the future. With the rising extremism in India, the threat to Muslims existing there, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, has increased significantly. Hence, the solution is essential at the earliest.
Aims and objectives:
- To identify the peacemaking efforts made to resolve Kashmir issue
- To explain the impacts and consequences of the efforts undertaken
- To propose what can be done in future for the Kashmir resolution
Following research question will be addressed in this paper:
“What types of peacemaking efforts have been made and can be adopted in future, in order to resolve the longstanding dispute of Kashmir?”
The present study is conducted through analytical descriptive approach. Qualitative data has been collected for this purpose. Secondary sources have been consulted for the data collection. The main source of data were research papers and academic journals.
Discussions and analysis:
The rivalry between India and Pakistan is based on the quest for power, self-reliance and security dilemma. The conflict becomes a threat to the international peace if the rivals are nuclear powers. Ansari et al. state that the conflict between India and Pakistan has always been in the international focus, due to their nuclear arms. And when Kashmir comes into question, the tension rises further. Both the countries have tried for long time but have not been able to develop the level of trust that is required for settling the arch dispute. Effendi expresses her concerns over the several spoilers that disrupt the confidence building attempts between in India and Pakistan. Considering the historical progression, dialogue between India and Pakistan has always been a risk. The historical misunderstandings, military stand-offs and communication over the range of disputes illustrate that the Pakistan and India want superiority over each other. According to realists, both the states want a sense of power superiority and cannot accept each other’s conciliatory mode at any cost. Many scholars are of the view that Pakistan cannot let go its claim on Kashmir due to its ideological reasons, as it says that Pakistan is a Muslim state and will stand by every oppressed Muslim. Moreover, it also claims that India has illegally occupied Kashmir. Pakistan claims this by backing its argument with the clauses of partition plan, regarding the procedure of annexation of princely states, and articles about self-determination in UN Charter. Whereas India says that ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, has signed legal documents for Kashmir’s annexation with India. Apart from this Kashmir is the only Muslim majority states in India, if India leaves Kashmir, it cannot claim its secular ideology. If the ideological basis of any state collapses, the identity and position of that state becomes questionable. Therefore, both India and Pakistan are not in a position to do so.
Taking the above mentioned scenario into attention, it has become essential to resolve the Kashmir issue. Effendi highlights the proposition of Ledarach that “conflict is bad and it is something that needs to be ended”. The issue of Kashmir is now at the ripe stage. It is clear that delaying the resolution is neither benefiting India nor Pakistan. Although, the revocation of article 370 has annexed Kashmir with India and till now it is difficult to predict what will be the future of the territory. But generally analyzing current uncertainty in regional and international situation of peace and stability, there is a possibility that Kashmir may become a serious threat to global security.
Many efforts have already been made to resolve this protracted conflict. Few of them are listed as under:
Pakistan and India engaged in a war in 1965, triggered by many historical and existing grievances. It was a seventeen day conflict with massive losses on both sides. Tashkent declaration was an agreement brokered by Soviet Union, to end the war. It was decided that both the states will step back of their positions. Withdraw their militaries and try to establish good relations based on UN Charter. Along with establishment of good relations the countries will settle all their disputes peacefully. It was considered as a weak agreement because it could not stop the next war between India and Pakistan. But it was a fine example of peacemaking
After the end of 1971 war, Pakistan and India signed a pact which would determine the future course of their relations. Kashmir, which plays a significant role in India-Pakistan relations, was also a part of the discussions over the agreement. India ruled out the option of third party mediation on Kashmir Issue during the negotiations. Whereas Pakistan wanted to employ different methods to peacefully resolve the conflict, even if it required third party interference. The fact that India took the Kashmir Issue to UN could not be ignored, while taking into account that India wanted to resolve the conflict bilaterally. This agreement could also neither shape cooperation between India and Pakistan neither prove helpful in deciding the fate of Kashmir. The misunderstandings, misperceptions and trust deficit have now changed into an emotion based fight.
Another attempt to resolve the settle the conflict was Agra summit. It was started in 2001, when both the governments decided to engage diplomatically for peaceful settlement of the disputes. The summit was arranged with high hopes that it would bring out results. It was observed that India delayed the negotiations over Kashmir. Effendi mentions Amir that “The draft of the joint declaration was not issued due to Indian refusal to deal separately with Kashmir and Pakistani reservations about “cross-border terrorism.” Therefore, the summit ended without any significant achievement.
Composite dialogue, conducted from 2004-8, is considered to be the most “sustainable and peaceful negotiations in India-Pakistan relations”. During the dialogue, Musharraf was willing to step down of his positions for impactful proceedings. He did emphasized on Kashmir’s annexation with Pakistan or, settlement of the dispute with UN interference. He proposed the self-determination formula for the resolution of Kashmir issue but India did not seem interested. Although the talks are thought to be successful but Kashmir was again left just the same.
Revocation of the article 370:
The revocation of article 370 is a structural change made by India, claiming to settle the Kashmir conflict. The constitutional change has annexed Kashmir with India. The Delhi government will directly control it. Scholars say that India cannot sustain this change, the increased suppression and forceful demographic changes will backfire. But according to Indian perspective, the annexation would enable Delhi to eliminate all the political, economic and historical grievances from Kashmir; ultimately settling the “insurgency”. As per Pakistan’s point of view, the increased deployment of forces, media blackout, demographic changes, marginalization and suppression will backfire. These all are human rights violations. When they will be coupled with extremist Hindutva ideology and its impacts, India will not be able to sustain it.
What can be done?
There have been certain faults in the attempts of peacemaking, in the past. These faults have not allowed the success to come. One of those faults is denying the participation of Kashmiris in resolution of the conflict. India and Pakistan have often considered it a bilateral dispute and dealt with it accordingly. Following are the proposed solutions which might repair the damage done, slowly but surely.
To initiate the conflict resolution, it is extremely crucial to analyze the conflict systematically. This will enable the practitioners to understand the roots of the conflict. As Dr. Maria S. Effendi elaborates using her Conflict Wheel Model, first the root causes of the conflict should be investigated deeply. Perspectives of all parties should be analyzed, regarding the root causes, meaning and importance of the present conflict. A consensus of all the parties should be built upon the perceptions about the conflict. Relevant causes of the conflict should also be studied. Actors, stakes, interests, needs and positions of all the actors should be clearly identified. In this way all the parties will understand each other’s interpretation of the conflict, which will significantly participate in designing their future course of action during the peace process. Effendi and Choudhary suggest that for effective conflict resolution, all the parties should try to develop a consensus over the interpretation of the conflict. Relevant experts will be required to conduct a detailed cost benefit analysis for remaining engaged and ending the conflict. Spoilers and drivers of the conflict should also be identified during conflict analysis process. It will enable the diplomatic staff to design a peace process which is immune to the external structural and proximate factors that could damage peace process.
Involve UN for peace making:
Effendi and Fatima suggest that UN should establish a referendum or plebiscite commission so that actual population of oppressed Kashmiris can be preserved. As India is trying to change the demographics of Kashmir by revoking its special status, it will record the number of indigenous population of Kashmiris.
Third party intervention:
Pakistan can enable third party intervention in the conflict through different means.
Pakistan can take the matter to International Court of Justice for asking its standing on the occupation of Jammu and Kashmir and its right of self-determination. It will establish a legal precedent over the matter because “International humanitarian law recognizes the liberation movements under Additional Protocol II to Geneva Conventions and Common Article 3 therefore international law is clearly applicable to Kashmir conflict lending credibility to the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination”. Along with this, Pakistan should declare it support for Kashmir so that they can get their right of self-determination, rather than staying firm for its annexation with Pakistan.
- Give the right of self-determination to Kashmiris:
India and Pakistan should realize the fact that Kashmir has been made a bilateral dispute, the participation of Kashmiris have been largely ignored. Both the states should let Kashmiris decide their future. Whenever reconciliatory discussions are planned Kashmiris should be a part of them. Without their consent, nothing should be proceeded.
- Mediation or provision of good offices:
Mediation is one of the most effective methods of conflict resolution. It involves the interference of an unbiased third party. Third party is not emotionally connected to the conflict at hand, therefore, is in a better position to understand the conflict and perceptions of direct conflicting parties. Witnessing the protractedness and complexity of the conflict, Kashmir issue can be best resolved through third party intervention. Pakistan can make this legal precedent as a basis to convince influential powers of international community to intervene in the matter and pressurize India for resolution. If India does not agree on third party involvement, international actors can provide good offices for the negotiations as well.
Kashmir has been a disputed territory for 75 years. Different peacemaking efforts have been undertaken like Tashkent declaration, Simla Accord, Agra Sumit, Composite Dialogue, Lahore Declaration and etc. None of it became successful due to several reasons. But the most important of them were the lack of political will from both Pakistan and India. The governments have been witnessed to adopt delaying tactics in scheduled dialogues or lack of prioritization of the matter. Until the governments are not ready to engage, the issue will remain unaddressed, as they have been till now.
 Samra F. Ansari, Maria S. Effendi, and Riffat Haque, “Problem Solving Decision Making Model In Kashmir Conflict Resolution: Prospects And Challenges,” NDU Journal 33 (2019): 7, accessed December 19, 2022, https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwicluqR6In8AhU4SfEDHai_BuQQFnoECA0QAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fndujournal.ndu.edu.pk%2Fsite%2Fissue%2Fdownload%2F18%2F13&usg=AOvVaw2kxqdywm6jrI2KGgX–utV.
2 Maria S. Effendi and Ishtiaq A. Choudary, “India – Pakistan CBMs since 1947 A Critical Analysis,” A Research Journal of South Asian Studies 31, no. 1 (January 2016): 188, accessed December 19, 2022, http://pu.edu.pk/images/journal/csas/PDF/13%20Maria%20Saifuddin%20Effendi_v31_no1_jan-jun2016.pdf.
4 Maria S. Effendi, “Conflict Resolution Research in Pakistan: Scope and Challenges to the Development of the Discipline,” Pakistan Journal Peace & Conflict Studies 2, no. 1 (January 2017): 31, accessed December 19, 2022, http://journals.uop.edu.pk/papers/03.%20Maria_for%20Maria%2003-07-2017.pdf.
5 Effendi and Choudary, “India – Pakistan CBMs since 1947: 194.
6 Ibid, 196.
7 Ibid, 198.
9 Ansari, Effendi, and Haque, “Problem Solving Decision Making Model In Kashmir Conflict Resolution: 7.
10 Effendi and Choudary, “India – Pakistan CBMs since 1947: 194.
11 Maria S. Effendi, “Right of Self Determination and Kashmiris: A Conceptual Understanding and Perspective,” Orient Research Journal of Social Sciences 6, no. 1 (June 2021): 11, accessed December 19, 2022, https://www.gcwus.edu.pk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/1.-Right-of-Self-Determination-and-Kashmiris.pdf.
13 Maria S. Effendi, Role of a Third Party in Conflict Resolution: A Case Study of India and Norway in Sri Lanka (Columbo: Regional Centre for strategic studies, 2007), 27.