Even beforehand the independence of Pakistan and India from Britain in 1947, Kashmir was contested. This region landlocked between India, Pakistan and China serves as a main source of water and power generation for both India and Pakistan, thanks to its abundance of glacial waters. Under the partition plan provided by the ‘Indian Independence Act’, Kashmir was free to join either India or Pakistan. The local Hindu ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, presided over a majorly Muslim population. Despite his initial efforts to remain independent, he signed the Instrument of Accession to India in 1947. The same year, a two-year war between Indian and Pakistani forces over the region erupted. During the 1950s, China was gradually occupying eastern Kashmir, Aksai Chin, leading to a war between India and China in 1962, which ended with India’s defeat. Two more wars were fought between India and Pakistan, the second Indo-Pakistani war in 1965 and the Kargil conflict in 1999. By the end of 20th century, both countries declared themselves to be nuclear powers. The pro-independence insurgency has its roots in 1987, causing the spread of violence against civilians by both sides. Numerous protests, violent attacks and casualties in the past decade prevailed over the unsuccessful diplomatic efforts to end seven decades of hostilities between two countries.


Interests of involved parties

Each side has its own fiercely held view. Pakistan seeks the implementation of the 1948 UN resolution which called for an independent plebiscite, with the belief that Kashmiri Muslims were wronged by the state's accession to India and that, given choice, they will vote to join Pakistan. It has also sought to raise the Kashmir issue at various international forums, actively seeking third-party intervention. Following the increased hostility along the Line of Control, which divides two nuclear-armed neighbors in disputed Kashmir Valley, China voiced its willingness to play a ’constructive role’ in improving relations between India and Pakistan. Nevertheless, India declined the proposition emphasizing its request to discuss the disputes with Pakistan with no third-party involved. India failed to appeal to the inhabitants Kashmir and Jammu, due to high unemployment and heavy-handed tactics of its security forces, such as battling street protesters and fighting, even affecting the opinion of the pro-India National Conference which proclaimed Indian rule as an unavoidable reality rather the desirable outcome, as there are very few residents of the Kashmir Valley who would not embrace independence with relief and enthusiasm.

Measures in place

Following the partition, the Security Council adopted Resolution 39 that included the establishment of the now withdrawn United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNICP) in order to investigate and mediate the dispute, and Resolution 47 to enlarge the membership of the Commission, including the provision of observers to stop the fighting. In July 1949, India and Pakistan signed the Karachi Agreement, establishing a ceasefire line to be supervised by the military observers. These observers formed the nucleus of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), that observes and reports, as well as investigates complaints of ceasefire violations and submits its findings to the UN.


 The longest unresolved international conflict continues to pose a threat to peace and stability of the region, as Pakistan and India persist with strong, uncompromising stances on how this issue should be addressed, injecting hatred with nationalist and military regimes, and turning the area of Kashmir and Jammu into a ticking time bomb stranded between two nuclear powers. The permanent ceasefire has been proven unsustainable and the steps towards stabilising the region rest undone. The people of Kashmir and Jammu continue to live as though their freedoms were taken away with the partition. It is not until the involved parties sit at a table to discuss future steps towards resolving this pressing question, that any progress will be made. Will the line of control be turned into an International border, will there be a referendum for independence or a plebiscite to decide between India and Pakistan, or will the international community propose an innovative approach to this longstanding issue remains uncertain, but it is more that clear that unless radical measures are taken, the situation in the region may escalate to a nuclear war of international concern.

* Reflecting on the inability to combat the atrocities along the Line of Control, what measures should be taken to sustain the ceasefire and protect the area?

* Bearing in mind the incapability of India and Pakistan to reach consensus, what steps should the international community take to initiate discussions between disputed countries?

* Aware of the drastic difference in opinion of the Kashmiris on how the conflict should be addressed, what actions should be taken to include their stances in the peacemaking process?