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In the 55-year history of India and Pakistan, three wars have been fought between the two nations over Kashmir. More than 35,000 civilians have lost their lives and hundred and thousands rendered homeless since 1989. The issue still remains unresolved even after 50 years of India?s partition and is the festering wound between the two neighbours.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2002 22:01 IST
PTI

In the 55-year history of India and Pakistan, three wars have been fought between the two nations over Kashmir. More than 35,000 civilians have lost their lives and hundred and thousands rendered homeless since 1989.

The issue still remains unresolved even after 50 years of India’s partition and is the festering wound between the two neighbours.

As a result of violence perpetrated by militants, many people migrated from the Valley. These displaced people either emigrated to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir or migrated to other parts of India, depending on their ethno-religious affiliation.

Recently, the brewing tension at the border pushed these two nations almost to the brink of war. Both have deployed heavy armoury on either side of LoC.

India accuses Pakistan of supporting, abetting and infiltrating insurgents inside Indian Kashmir and charges it of killing many civilians and Indian armed personnel.

Pakistan considers Indian Kashmir as a ‘disputed’ territory and swears to provide political, diplomatic and moral supports to sundry jihadi groups fighting for its amalgamation with Pakistan.

The fundamental question, the issue raises is To whom does Kashmir belong? Does it belong to India or Pakistan or to moderate political groups espousing greater autonomy for Kashmir? Or does it belong to dozens of extremists groups demanding secession from India and Pakistan, thereby asking nothing less than compete independence or Azadi? Or does it belong to the silent majority - the people of Kashmir.

If it is the latter, what does a Kashmiri wants? Does he subscribe to the insurgents’ views? What are his hopes, desires, wishes, dreams? How does he see his future?

The history of Kashmir has always been a fight over its territory between the two neighbouring states. No one remembers or entertains the fact that the Kashmiri struggle is all about the people of Kashmir.

India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir as their part and wants to exercise their control over it. But more than this, there are reasons of expediency governed by realpolitik. They know Kashmir is a wound in the national psyche of respective countries.

A cessation of hostilities in Jammu and Kashmir could be politically disadvantageous for them. To draw maximum advantage, they would like to keep the emotive wound green, as long as it serves the political purpose of respective governments.

In all fairness to the people of Kashmir, one thing is clear - neither of the countries want Kashmir to be independent. Pakistan's formal position is that Kashmir should be subject to vote in a referendum, based upon numerous UN resolutions and the only option to Kashmir is - its accession to either Pakistan or India.

First Published: Sep 08, 2002 22:01 IST