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The Conflict In Kashmir Essay, Research Paper

The conflict over Kashmir

Kashmir is located in the heart of south-central Asia and shares borders with Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and India. It has a population of 13 million of which 64% is Muslim. The official language is Urdu, Kashmiri is mostly spoken and other regional languages widely spoken are Dogri, Hindi, Dardi, Pahari en English.

Kashmir is a land of breath taking scenery and a glorious climate. The Kashmir valley is surrounded by the Himalayan Mountains that used to guard it from the outer world. It has been described as ? an emerald set in pearls, a land of lakes, clear streams, green turf and magnificent trees and mighty mountains?. Kashmir established itself as an agricultural economy. It?s a country that has been noted for its abundance, and is rich in minerals such as limestone and marble. A mere 27% of the population is literate (according to a 1981 census) and the majority is working in the agriculture, mining and manufacturing section.

Kashmir?s history can be traced back as early as the second century when it was part of the Kushan Empire under control of Kanishka, and later part of China. After years of Buddhist and Hindu rule, Kashmir was converted to Islam in the late 14th century and became part of the Mogul Empire in 1586. The British installed a Hindu prince as ruler in 1846. The Muslim and Hindu peoples of Kashmir have lived in relative harmony and friendliness since the 13th century when Islam first became the majority religion of Kashmir. Occasionally however, there have been rulers and leaders who have had a narrow view of Islam, and have subjected Hindu minorities to great cruelties and discrimination.

The current armed secessionist movement in Kashmir mostly derives inspiration from these people. In 1947 the British gave up their dominant rule over India. The new republics of Pakistan and India were now in competition for control over Kashmir with occasional interference by China. In this conflict one third of Kashmir went under Pakistan control as Azad (?free?) Kashmir. The other two thirds form the Indian states Jammu and Kashmir including the valley of Kashmir (almost all of it Muslim), Jammu (mostly Hindu) and Ladakh (mostly Buddhist). In the late 1980?s unrest grew in Indian Kashmir as Muslim militants, some supporting independence and others union with Pakistan, resorted to gorilla attacks. But in 1990 the region was placed under the rule of the army who has often used brutal measures to maintain Indian rule.

The present secessionist drive in Kashmir has its background in the dissatisfaction of a small section of Kashmiris (mostly political opponents of the Sheik). The objective of this ethnic cleansing was to create a minority free Kashmir valley where the goal or Izlamination could easily be forced on the ordinary people. Havoc has been created by targeting innocent civilians. More than 70 000 Kashmiris (mostly unarmed) have been killed since 1989 and more than 175 000 have been made homeless through deliberate actions of arson and wanton destruction. A Doda Police Superintendent Ahmed Khan said in the US News ?Most of the militants that have been captured are foreign to the area: Punjabi?s, Phuktuns, and even Arabs, most of them battle hardened by wars in Afghanistan. Kashmir?s violence has its roots in issues far larger than Kashmir.?

Bill Clinton has been in meetings with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to try and find a solution and way out. Clinton promised a personal interest in a long-term settlement and Sharif said he will take steps in withdrawing the fighters, but no action has been taken so far. Pakistan denies any direct link to the infiltrators, calling them ? freedom fighters beyond government control?. Indian and Western analysts reject this description. Even before the Pakistan premier returned home, he said that the ?steps? would consist of asking the militants to leave and even this would depend on concession from India. The guerillas said nothing would persuade them to go home.

India and Pakistan has been to war twice, and it is ongoing. They are destroying the people, culture and beauty of Kashmir and the world community has done very little so far to bring an end to this sad ordeal.

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