Buddhi Narayan Shrestha
Border Expert, Kathmandu, Nepal
Pakistan is bordered by Afghanistan, China and India.
India is located at the eastern border of Pakistan. Length of the border between Pakistan and India is 2,900 kilometres.
Since the independence of India and Pakistan, the border has been a site of numerous conflicts and wars.
It is regarded as one of the most complex borders in the world, as it has not yet been well demarcated.
Kashmir has been the cause of dispute, whether direct or indirect of all major conflicts, between the two countries with the exception of the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 concerning East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
Kashmir conflict is a territorial dispute between the government of Pakistan and India (Kashmiri insurgent groups) over the control of Kashmir region.
India has constituted the main conflict and source of violence in that area since 2002.
Eventually, India has disputes and conflicts not only with Pakistan but also with its neighboring countries China, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
Kashmir is a Himalayan region that borders India, Pakistan and China.
Known for its majestic landscape, Kashmir has figured prominently in the history and legends of the Indian subcontinent.
Kashmir lies strategically in the north-west of the sub-continent, bordering China and the former Soviet Union.
On the Pakistani side, Kashmir includes the areas known as Azad (Free) Kashmir, Gilgit, Baltistan and the former Kingdom of Hunza and Nagar.
The territory under dispute lies in Kashmir Valley, separated from Pakistan by the 770-kilometer Line of Control (LoC).
Tension between Pakistan and India along the LoC in the disputed Kashmir region has remained intense with New Delhi falsely blaming Islamabad with initiating intermittent border clashes.
Line of Control (LOC):
The border and the LoC separating Indian and Pakistani Kashmir passes through some exceptionally difficult terrain.
The world’s highest battleground, the Siachen Glacier is a part of this difficult-to-man boundary.
The government of Pakistan has repeatedly claimed that by constructing a fence along the LoC, India is violating the Shimla Accord.
However, India says the construction of the fence has helped to decrease tension.
But the LoC has always been the bone of contention between Pakistan and India.
The 770 km curved borderline does not follow any well defined geographical feature and often a house has its courtyard in India and other rooms in Pakistan.
The latest 2013 Pakistan-India border incident was a series of armed skirmishes along the LoC in the Kashmir area.
The incident started on January 6, 2013 when Indian forces attacked a Pakistani border post, killing one Pakistani soldier.
On 15 January, there was another skirmish that led to the death of another Pakistani soldier.
After the talk between Lieutenant General of India Vinod Bhatia and Major General Ahsfaq Nadeem of Pakistan, an understanding was reached to de-escalate the situation resulting in 9 Pakistani casualties and 8 Indian casualties till August 2013.
Civilians were also affected adversely by the border skirmishes/clashes.
Regarding the Kashmir issue, India claims the entire former Dogra princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, including most of Jammu, Kashmir Valley, Ladakh and the Siachen Glacier.
India’s claim is contested by Pakistan on mainly Azad Kashmir and the northern areas of Gilgit and Balistan.
China has controlled Aksai Chin while there was a brief but fierce Sino-Indian Border War of 1962.
India’s official position is that Kashmir belongs to India.
Whereas Pakistan’s official position is that Kashmir is a disputed territory whose final status must be determined by the people of Kashmir.
Islamabad has always maintained that majority Muslim Kashmir should have been a part of Pakistan.
A United Nations resolution adopted after the first war called for a referendum allowing the people of Kashmir to choose which country they wanted to belong join.
But that vote for self-determination has never been held. Pakistan insists that referendum should take place.
It is interesting that neither country wants Kashmir to become an independent nation as it is a small portion of the earth.
With this view, attempts to resolve the conflict through political discussions were unsuccessful.
In the context of these conflicts and disputes, India and Pakistan have fought numerous armed conflicts with each other following the end of the British Raj and the subsequent partition of India in August 1947.
The two South Asian nations have been involved in three major wars, one undeclared war and numerous border skirmishes and military standoffs.
The Kashmir dispute is the major one and it has been the root cause of all other major conflicts between the two countries with the exception of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, where the dispute concerned East Pakistan.
India and Pakistan have fought at least three wars over Kashmir, as it is mainly called Indo-Pakistan Wars of 1965, 1971 and 1999.
Much of the war was fought by land forces in Kashmir along the international border between Pakistan and India.
The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 was a culmination of skirmishes that took place between April and September 1965.
It was fought over the disputed border region of Kashmir.
The five-week war caused the loss of 3,000 Indians and 3,800 Pakistani people. It ended in a United Nations mandated ceasefire and the subsequent Taskent Declaration (wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo Pakistan_War).
The War of 1971 was a military conflict between the two countries during the period between 3 to 16 December.
It was closely associated with the brewing in erstwhile East Pakistan culminating in the declaration of independence as Bangladesh from the state system of Pakistan.
This war saw the highest number of fatalities of 3,813 Indians and 9,000 Pakistanis. After 14 days of armed hostilities, the war ended with the emergence of Bangladesh.
The Indo-Pakistan War of 1999 is known as Kargil Conflict.
It was an armed conflict that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and along the LoC.
The cause of the war was accused of infiltration, blaming each other by both sides, violating the de-facto border between the two states.
This was one of the recent examples of high altitude warfare in mountainous terrain.
The loss was somehow less in comparison to the previous wars. The number of fatalities were 527 Indians and 453 Pakistanis.
The war ended with international support to withdraw the forces along the LoC.
All these skirmishes and wars and tension along the LoC show that Indo-Pakistan border is war-prone.
It has affected the general people of both the frontiers of LoC.
The resolution of the border issue:
The unquiet border issue should be resolved amicably with a spirit of brotherhood, free and frank manner and reciprocity, justice and mutual respect.
As the past approaches reflect that the leadership in Pakistan and of Kashmir with a positive and flexible approach has put forth several proposals to resolve the dispute.
But, it seems that India has not responded well to reciprocate.
According to the partition Plan of India in 1947, the accession of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, either with India or Pakistan, was to be decided in light of its people’s wishes and the geographic contiguity of that area.
A free and fair plebiscite under international auspices as per United Nations Resolution should be conducted to determine the will of the people of that region.
Mahatma Gandhi had once said “If the people of Kashmir are in favor of opting for Pakistan, no power on earth can stop them from doing so. They should be left free to decide for themselves.” (Complete Works of Mahatma Gandhi (1947), page 413, speech at Prayer Meeting, 26 October 1947).
Most recently, Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif ( and Old article now the PM is Imran Khan) has invited India to come for dialogue mentioning that Pakistan is committed to resolve all the existing disputes including Jammu & Kashmir through the dialogue.
Nawaz Sharif on February 5, 2014 said India should accept Kashmiri’s right to self-determination, and he invited to resolve the issue peacefully through dialogue.
Addressing a joint meeting of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and Kashmir Council on Kashmir Solidarity Day in Muzaffarabad,
the prime minister said his government was ready to discuss all outstanding issues with India, including Kashmir.
He invited India to engage in a comprehensive sustained and result-oriented dialogue process.’
Sharif stressed that the region will remain in the grip of “mistrust and tension” as long as the Kashmir dispute is not resolved in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan said, unless the Kashmir issue was resolved, there would be uncertainty in the region. He hoped India would respond positively to this invitation for a dialogue and fulfill the Kashmiri people’s aspirations to decide their fate.
Fundamental rights and self-determination needed to be enforced, the Prime Minister said, adding the struggle of the Kashmiris was a reaction to the ‘atrocities’ committed by Indian security agencies (The Hindu, Islamabad, and February 5, 2014).
The most important matter is that India must reciprocate and come for dialogue for the peaceful settlement on Kashmir issue in justifiable manner.
Text courtesy: Excerpts from the book “The Border Man of Nepal” by Border expert B.N. Shrestha, Published by Dr. Mabi Lochan Singh, Boston, USA.
#Thanks the distinguished author Mr. Shrestha for the permission: Ed. Upadhyaya. N. P.
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