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Lecture organised by Activities Committee: The Conflict in Kashmir
29 April at 20:00 - 22:00
Since 1947, India and Pakistan have been locked in conflict over Kashmir, a majority-Muslim region in the northernmost part of India. The mountainous, 86,000-square-mile territory was once a princely state. Now, it is claimed by both India and Pakistan. The root of the conflict lies in the shared colonial past of India and Pakistan, as part of the British empire. Facing increasing pressure from both the outside world as internal politics, Britain decided to release the Indian colony from their colonial grasp, but fearing mass religious violence, it was hastily decided that the area would be divided between a Hindu majority nation (India) and a Muslim majority nation (Pakistan).
At the time, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which had a majority Muslim population, was governed by maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu. Unlike most of the princely states which aligned themselves with one nation or the other, Singh wanted independence for Kashmir. To avert pressure to join either new nation, the Mahajara signed a stand-of agreement that allowed citizens of Kashmir to continue trade and travel with the new country. India did not sign a similar standstill agreement with the princely state.
As violence raged across the nations, the government of Pakistan pressured Kashmir to join it. Pro-Pakistani rebels, funded by Pakistan, captured a large part of Kashmir and in September 1947, Pashtun tribesmen crossed the border of Pakistan into Kashmir. Singh asked for India’s help in staving off the invasion, but India responded that, in order to gain military assistance, Kashmir would have to accede to India, thus becoming part of the new country.
Singh agreed and signed the Instrument of Accession, the document that aligned Kashmir with the Dominion of India, in October 1947. Kashmir was later given special status within the Indian constitution—a status which guaranteed that Kashmir would have independence over everything but communications, foreign affairs, and defense.
The maharaja’s fateful decision to align Kashmir with India ushered in decades of conflict in the contested region, including two wars and a longstanding insurgency.
To talk to us about this very difficult issue, we will be joined by Junaid Qureshi, Director of the European Foundation on South-Asian Studies, who will first discuss the history of the Jammu & Kashmir conflict and its effects on Indo-Pak relations. Yoana Barakova, Research Analyst EFSAS, will further examine the recent escalations between India and Pakistan and analyse the terrorism threat and nuclear security in the region of South Asia.
This event is free and open to everyone.