Kashmir Conflict: An Overview

Maya Weaver '21, Staff Writer

   There are moments in our lives that feel as if they were taken from a movie because they are so utterly unreal and astonishing. I experienced such an afternoon like this in the spring of 2012 after a bumpy and painfully long car ride from the Indian city of Amritsar to the India-Pakistan border. The scene unfolded in an almost caricatured manner, fitting the outrageous expectations my eight-year-old mind had anticipated a country border would look like. An ominous wall and even more menacing gate divided two stadiums of screaming crowds⁠ — one Pakistani and one Indian. The air brimmed with tension and aggression as uniformed men on either sides performed a daily ceremony. To my naive mind it felt like the brink of war.

   The hostilities between India and Pakistan have since emerged as a major news story of an international scale. The source of the conflict is particularly over Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region in northern India. Looking back to the era of British colonialism, investigators can understand the source of the divide. British officials in India drafted legislature that separated Muslims (the religious minority) from Hindus, making the voting procedures and involvement in the national government different for each group. As India pushed for independence from Britain, a pocket of Muslim Indians pushed for the creation of a separate nation, spearheaded by Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

In August of 1947, both Pakistan and India were established as their own nations. A chaotic period ensued in which over 500 princely states in India could decide to join either nation. Hari Singh, the maharaja of Kashmir, unwilling to align Kashmir with either India or Pakistan, chose instead to sign a standstill agreement with Pakistan so that trade, travel, and communications could continue between Pakistan and Kashmir. India, however, did not sign this agreement. Partition violence raged between Indian and Pakistan, and Pakistani rebels began to invade Kashmir to threaten Kashmir to join Pakistan. In a fateful decision, Singh requested Indian military help. In exchange, he had to allow Kashmir to become part of India through a document called the “Instrument of Accession.” However, Kashmir retained a special status of independence on everything except communications, defense, and foreign affairs. War promptly broke out, pushing India to elicit help from the UN. India and Pakistan eventually forged an agreement, based on the advice of the UN, that established a ceasefire, causing Kashmir to become divided. Today, the two nuclear powers assert that they have full jurisdiction over the territory, but it is internationally recognized that Kashmir is composed of two parts ⁠— the India-administered Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. 

Since these events, brutal violence, constant injury and death, and unrest is a normality in India-administered Kashmir as a result of violent protests spearheaded by militants, conflicts between armed forces, and failed peace talks. Notably in February of 2019, at least forty Indian soldiers were attacked and killed in Kashmir by a militant group, inducing a series of airstrikes from either side. New waves of tension and hostility most recently crashed in on August 5th, 2019 when India revoked the aforementioned special status of Kashmir because of a Hindu Nationalist Party’s protests to abolish it. Phone networks, the internet, and most forms of communication were cruelly shut off in the time leading up to the presidential order, forcing Kashmir into a state of isolation that remains today. This event has only aggravated the Kashmir dispute and caused mass unrest by Kashmiris who believe their legal rights are now compromised and cry out for autonomy. Mehbooba Mufti, a former chief minister of Kashmir, fears that India will “… reduce us to a minority and disempower us totally.” In addition, news of local Kashmiris enduring tremendous brutality under the hands of Indian security has sparked mass outrage across the world. 

The United Nations General Assembly gives a taste for what is to come. Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, impassionately attacked India for its actions in Kashmir whereas Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi avoided the topic in his speech altogether. Khan warned that, “There are 900,000 troops there, they haven’t come to, as Narendra Modi says ⁠— for the prosperity of Kashmir … These 900,000 troops, what are they going to do? When they come out? There will be a bloodbath.” He later cited that war is “not a threat, it’s a fair worry. When a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders. It will have consequences for the world.” 

The gravity of the conflict between India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers, has disturbing implications. The two governments are stoking coals of terrorism, regional dispute, and religious divide that may spark into a blazingly ruthless and lethal fire if not quickly extinguished. 



  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/03/kashmir-conflict-how-did-it-start/
  2. https://www.cfr.org/interactive/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/conflict-between-india-and-pakistan 
  3. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49481180
  4. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-16069078
  5. https://www.bbc.com/news/10537286 
  6. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/pakistan-pm-warns-bloodbath-kashmir-india-modi-silent-190927162542407.html