Kashmir occupation by Indian forces and the breach of the right of self-determination it has led to. It additionally focuses on the boycott by the Kashmiri public of the Indian Parliamentary elections.
Kashmir; Self-determination vs. Self-destruction
Kashmir stands as the basis of a long-standing dispute between two neighbouring South Asian countries, India and Pakistan. This dispute has caused loss of life not only to the Indian and Pakistani forces but also to the local public many of whom were innocent Kashmiri citizens. One of the burning issues on Kashmiri soil at the moment relates to the second stage of elections for the Lok Shaba i.e. India's Parliament.
In Human Rights Law the right of self-determination is considered a fundamental principle. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that "the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government" (Parker). The right is both individual and collective in nature. It is individual because every person has the chance of voicing his opinion and collective because it is their mutual consensus that decides the government.
This principle is a norm of jus cogens. This means that right is considered as one of the most important rules of international law and must be abided by in all cases. Furthermore the International Court of Justice has in its rulings conferred to it the legal status of egra omnes. The principle of self-determination is generally considered in context to the de-colonization that occurred after the promulgation of the United Nations Charter of 1945 (Parker).
This right is considered to be one of the most important and notable features of the Charter. Adding more strength to its signification is its presence in both the Preamble and Article 1 of the UN Charter. Two important researches conducted by the United Nations in relation to the right of self-determination gave outlines of situations when a need to possess the right of self-determination arises. These are a history of independence or self-rule in an identifiable territory, a distinct culture, and a will and capability to regain self-governance (Parker).
The territory of Kashmir due to the disagreement surrounding its borders is geographically divided into three. The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, what Pakistan calls Indian occupied Kashmir is the first one. This part of the territory is controlled by India. It is this portion that has stood witness to the greatest bloodshed amongst the three. Second is Azad Kashmir which is governed by Pakistan. The Indians refer to it as the Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The remaining portion is located up north and is comparatively smaller. It is under the occupation of the Chinese.
To fully understand the fight of self-determination that Kashmiri citizens have fought over the years it is important to understand their history. Close to the end of the fourteenth century Kashmir was conquered by the Muslims. This meant that years of Buddhist and Hindu governance had come to an end. The biggest effect of this conquering was that most of the population was converted to Islam.
In 1586 it became a part of the Mughal empire and it was until 1751 that the government of Kashmir emerged as independent. The British Raj in 1846 introduced a Hindu prince in Kashmir even though at that time the majority of the population followed the Muslim faith. Soon after India and Pakistan debuted as separate nation on the world map in 1947, Muslim forces from Pakistan invaded Kashmir. As a result of the intervention the Hindu prince fled to Delhi where he made an agreement with India over Kashmir.
Post the agreement India introduced its forces in Kashmir to defend the land from Pakistani troops. In 1949 the UN intervened and the fighting came to an end by the introduction of a cease fire. The Kashmiri territory was divided between the two countries along the cease fire lines. A constituent assembly in Indian Kashmir voted in 1953 for incorporation into India. Physical action in accordance to the voting was deferred by constant Pakistani-Indian divergence on the issue.
Furthermore the UN maintained their disapproval of the disposition of any portion of the region. According to the UN this was only possible after a plebiscite would be conducted. Between the two rivals India and Pakistan in 1955 an agreement was reached. Both decided to position their forces in Kashmir at a distance of ten kilometres from each other.
Kashmir was incorporated as a part of India after voting by the assembly in Indian Kashmir in 1956. This happened against the back drop of Azad Kashmir remaining under the control of he Government of Pakistan. India turned its eyes away time and time again from Pakistani and UN resolution demands for a plebiscite to be held in the Indian controlled Kashmir. To further complicate the issue Chinese troops entered and occupied the Aksai Chin section of the district of Ladakh.
Tension between India and Pakistan rose in 1963 when the Sino-Pakistani agreement was reached. India was inflamed at the definition the agreement offered of the Chinese border with Azad Kashmir (Pakistan controlled Kashmir) because the part of Kashmiri territory India claimed as his had been given to China. In August 1965 war broke out between the two nations in which the UN intervened to commence a cease fire which took effect in September 1965.
The Soviet government invited Ayub Khan President of Pakistan and Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri of India to meet in Tashkent to which they agreed. The meeting led to an agreement to withdraw troops from battle to position them in accordance to their posting pre-breaking of the war. Maintenance of peace was not for long since war broke again in 1971. This time India was able to make advances and gained territory. At the end of 1972 cease fore was again initiated along the lines that both countries at the end of the 1971 war.
The late 1980's saw growing aggression and tension among the Kashmiri public against Indian rule. Although they were not completely united they either sided with Kashmir becoming an independent state or becoming a part of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Further poison was added to their venom when India failed to calculate the risk they had taken with rigging the elections. The rigged elections of 1987 led to public demonstrations and violence. As a result the government had to be suspended.
Elections which had been intended for 1995 had to be cancelled due to the violent riots and demonstration that arose out of the burning of a Muslim shrine and its surrounding areas. The Muslim separatists have since not let go of their fight. Major clashes again erupted in May 1999 as a result of Indian air strikes which were followed by ground action aimed at infiltrators from Pakistan. The freedom fighting Muslims of Kashmir hold Pakistani infiltrators very close to their hearts.
Heavy losses in terms of life were suffered on both sides and the fighting came to an end when a ceasefire was introduced in mid-July. Kashmiri legislation reinstating the state's pre-1953 independence and discussions between India and one of the Muslim militant groups proved short-lived in 2000. Due to the guerrilla attacks in 2002 being quite serious a possibility had arisen of broader conflicts between Indian and Pakistani forces. In spite of such activities, elections were held in October the same year, leading to a new government that favored talks with the freedom fighting Kashmiri groups.
Between India and Pakistan as mentioned above three wars have been fought the basis of all of which was common: Kashmir. Besides these incidents leading to the loss of life and blood shed are a part of daily life. Due to this tense scenario close to a million troops are posted on each side of the border by…