pa2346c.jpg Paul Lachine

Peace in Kashmir?

A subtle shift may be occurring in one of the world's most intractable problems – the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. After decades of conflict and thousands of lives lost, Pakistanis are questioning the benefits of continuing the fight.

LAHORE/NEW DELHI – A subtle shift may be occurring in one of the world’s longest-standing and most intractable conflicts – the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Increasingly, it seems, Pakistanis are questioning what the Kashmir dispute has done to their own state and society.

When Pakistan was carved out of India by the departing British in the 1947 Partition, the 562 “princely states” (regions nominally ruled by assorted potentates, but owing allegiance to the British Raj) were required to accede to either of the two new countries. The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir – a Muslim-majority state with a Hindu ruler – dithered over which of the two to join, and flirted with the idea of remaining independent.

But rumors that the Maharaja was leaning towards India triggered an invasion from Muslim revolutionaries and Pakistani tribesmen. The Maharaja, fearing that his state would fall to the marauders, acceded to India, which promptly sent troops to stop the aggressors (by that point augmented by the Pakistan Army). The First Kashmir War lasted until 1948, at which point India took the issue to the United Nations Security Council, which resulted in a cease-fire that left India in possession of roughly two-thirds of the state.

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