Table of Contents
Introduction into the Kashmir conflict:
Introduction into the Kashmir conflict:
The Kashmir conflict arose parallel to the partition of British India in 1947, so it is as old as the Indian Union and Pakistan itself. Both India and Pakistan are claiming the entire sovereignty over the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir with India having control over approximately 55% of the land area and Pakistan 30%. China, which is controlling a small area of the region, is involved in the conflict as a third party. The conflict, more than 50 years old, not only survived the Cold War, it was the direct and indirect cause for three wars between India and Pakistan, for an arms race that continues to this day and for the transformation of both states into nuclear powers. This regional conflict is unique because Pakistan has already threatened India with the use of nuclear weapons on several occasions - even in the event of a massive conventional attack by India. Over the course of five decades, the conflict has become an integral part of the respective national and, in the case of India, democratic self-image and political consensus. India bases its democratic self-image on the thesis of the one, the secular nation. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is the only one with a Muslim majority and thus formally underpins India's claim to overcoming Hindu-Muslim antagonism.
Pakistan, on the other hand, still stands on the position of its founder. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, according to which there are on the subcontinent two nations, one Muslim nation, and a Hindu nation. From historical, cultural, economic and "infrastructural" reasons had and has Pakistan, the state responsible for the Muslims of the subcontinent, the right to this majority of Muslims inhabited the province. The fact that the majority of the population of the region consists of Muslims leads to conflicts because many Kashmiris do not want to commit themselves to the current political status and are feeling oppressed by the ruling government.
However, to draw a line into the contemporary 21st century, several actions by India and Pakistan in 2019 made the conflict up-to-date again.
On 14 February 2019, an SUV loaded with explosives rammed into a convoy with paramilitary police in the town of Pulwama in Kashmir Valley. At least 40 people were killed in the explosion. The suicide bomber was a local teen who is said to be a member of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a Pakistani-based terrorist group that took responsibility for the bombing. On 26 February, India started an air raid on Pakistani soil, leading to the alleged bombing of a JeM facility in Balakot, the first such Indian attack on Pakistan itself since 1971. Pakistan then launched its own air raid, and the air fight led to the shoot-down of an Indian fighter jet. When Pakistan returned the captured pilot on March 1st, the crisis dwindled, but tensions remained high. The crisis thus renewed the fear of war between the two nuclear powers and diminished the prospects for a resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan.
On Monday, August 5th, 2019, the Indian government revoked Article 370 of the constitution, a provision that gave special autonomy to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (Indian controlled part of Kashmir). Furthermore, the government issued a bill to deprive the region of its statehood and dividing it into two parts, both controlled by the Indian federal government(New York Times, 2019). These changes are contrary to the last year's Indian Supreme Courts’ decision whereupon the provisions of Article 370 could not be abrogated. The actions by the Indian government caused sparked widespread anger by their neighbor Pakistan which said it will consider all possible steps to counter the illegal action taken by India, which was also criticized in the international press. Pakistan’s leader Imran Khan held a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September condemning the curfew set by India. However, the Indian government omitted to make any statement on the accusations, they rather described their move as an internal domestic matter aimed at making the region more prosperous(New York Times, 2019).
In this section I will discuss how the Kashmir conflict fits into Part II of our course and reflect upon the current news coverage in the context of what has been learned and discussed about that type of issue in that part of the course and also by making (the necessary!) history/theory connections from Part I.
The Kashmir crisis may be explained by the realist study of international relations, who are of the view that states are acting rational, and are constantly seeking for power and domination. In this way, keeping in mind, the neo-realist concept when discussing the Kashmir conflict, the conflict can be seen as a power and domination battle between India and Pakistan irrespective of any concern for the Kashmiri population’s benefit. This realist theory which was originally founded by a theorist called Thucydides envisages the representation of power politics as the law of human behavior (Williams, 2008). According to this common belief of realism, power is seen as the main aspect that is associated with survival and self-interest.
In order to emphasize this argument, it’s obligatory to analyze the Kashmir conflict under the realist perspective. The key aspects of realism include sovereignty, state survival, and self-help. This attitude assumes that there is anarchy at the international level and a state can only survive by reaching endless means of power. Both India and Pakistan have applied a realist approach towards the Kashmir conflict ever since. India and Pakistan are applying realist and neo-realist strategies to resolve the problem. Their foreign policies towards each other illustrate the projection of a soft and hard power variety to protect their national interests in which the Kashmir conflict is of important value.
By analyzing India’s foreign policy in South Asia, it is obvious that India’s strategy is to become a hegemon in the region. Realists assume that states strive for expansion, military might and power in all forms, this is what both countries are trying to achieve. India is trying to become a regional hegemon and the occupation of Kashmir has a significant influence on whether or not India can be considered as a regional hegemon. On the other side, Pakistan seeks to protect the Muslim population of Kashmir from alleged Indian cruelty. For instance, they condemn the curfew set by the Indian government(New York Times, 2019) which in their view leads to the persecution of Kashmiris to whom Pakistan feels responsible. Pakistan is using soft power when it tries to convince the world that India is tyrannizing Kashmiris.
A different interpretation of the Kashmir conflict can be done through the constructivist study of international relations. This particular theory assumes that security is a social phenomenon constructed on the basis of ideas, norms, and ideology A major theorist was Alexander Wendt who concluded that constructivism is focusing more on norms than compared to the power politics of security. Furthermore, it is also believed that security is a social phenomenon constructed on the basis of ideas, norms, and ideology(Williams, 2008). This certain theory can be clearly noticed by the Indian intervention in Kashmir where the Indian government claims to act to secure and the region.
The Hindu nationalist government wiped the autonomy of the Kashmir region on August 5th (New York Times, 2019) in an effort to increase their Hindu-nationalist interest in the region and curtail the influence of Muslim secessionist movements who are perceived as a threat to Indian national security. Therefore various acts of violence are inflicted upon them by sending in thousands of troops to oppress any possible unrest in the population.
An explanation of why Pakistan feels responsible for the Kashmiri population can also be given by the constructivist view that Kashmiris and Pakistanis are united by their ethos and pathos. Their celebrations, ideals, attitudes, and behavior for life are very similar. Events in the past have shown that the Kashmiri population has always felt more drawn to Pakistan. The ideals of Kashmiri’s are not only politically, culturally, economically, socially and religiously similar to the Pakistanis, they are also in stark contrast with a self-proclaimed secular India. By analyzing through a constructivist perspective, the Muslim majority of Kashmir socially and ideologically are similar to Pakistan’s population. Therefore Pakistan’s leader Imran Khan intervened by expressing concern about the recent Indian actions which are seen as a hostile move against the Kashmir population. However, they fulfill certain criteria to consider themselves as a nation. For instance, their people identify themselves with a common past, language, and territory. Individuals who share such characteristics are motivated to participate actively in the political process as a nation. This also explains the secessionist movement away from India towards their own nation-state.