Dialogue  April-June 2007 , Volume 8 No. 4

Issues of Self-Determination and Secession in Kashmir: Implication for a Multi-Ethnic nation-State

Nani Gopal Mahanta

The socio-cultural landscape of Jammu and Kashmir (J & K) embodies a complex mélange of people belonging to different racial stocks, professing various diverse religious faiths and speaking a variety of languages. Three important religions –Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam –co-existed in Kashmir and produced a new philosophic traditions of Buddhism, Trikka philosophy and the Rishi order expounding Sufi mysticism. Many languages including Dogri, Gojri, Pahari, Punjabi Hindi,Kashmiri, Urdu, Bodhi, shina, Balti,Domaaki etc. are spoken in different regions.1The Sufi tradition of Islam was profoundly similar to the practices of Mahayana of Buddhism and Shaivism of Hinduism. They were further influenced by local beliefs and it evolved the philosophical tradition of religious humanism popularized by the order of the Rishis. Through this process a unique composite Kashmiri culture (Kashmiriyat) evolved.2 

It was Maharaja Ranjit Singh who brought Kashmir under the Sikh empire in 1819. He rewarded the Dogra raja, Gulab Singh, by conferring on him the title of jagir for Jammu and hill territories. Within the next two decades, Gulab Singh conquered Ladakh and Baltistan. In March 1846, for his neutrality during the First Anglo Sikh War, the British under the Treaty of Amritsar granted Gulab Singh dominion over the Valley of Kashmir. Thus were the fates of Jammu and Kashmir fixed, as parts of a Dogra ruled princely state.

On the eve of 1947, the British transfer of power and the Doctrine of Paramountcy left the fate of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state in the hands of Maharaja Hari Singh-the Hindu ruler of the state. According to the Doctrine, after the British transfer of power to India and Pakistan, the British suzerainty over the princely states lapsed and all rights surrendered to the paramount power would revert back. This allowed the states, for one thing, to decide their own future course of action in relation to Partition. Before Hari Singh could decide on the question of accession, raiders from Pakistan invaded Kashmir in October 1947. The Maharaja sought India’s military help and after signing the Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947, New Delhi sent troops to Kashmir. Whether Hari Singh signed out of compulsion and as a quid pro quo or whether he already decided to join India are questions that have different interpretations.3 Over the year Indian and Pakistan along with the tribal invaders fought a series of pitched battles.The issue was finally taken to UNO by India and a crucial resolution was passed on Jan. 1948. This resolution called on Pakistan to “ vacate its aggression” in Kashmir, on India to reduce the number of troops in the region commensurate to the maintenance of law and order, and for an impartial plebiscite to be conducted to determine the wishes of the Kashmiri people.4 Both side adhered to the UN resolution and on Jan 1, 1949 the first Kashmir war came to a close with a ceasefire monitored by the UN. The issue of self-determination once again became prominent in the early 1990s insurgency after Sheikh Abdulla’s secession demand was almost a claim of the past.

The issue of Self –Determination what is broadly understood as secession or ‘azadi’ forms an integral part of Kashmir struggle. The demand for ‘azadi’ had become widespread from 1989 after the growth of insurgency in the region. There are various groups who seek to assert the right to independence. However the version of independence or the nature of it varies from group to group. There are at least three directions in this regard—which can be called three distinct political orientations of the Kashmiri people—1) Pro-independence which is preferred by a decisive majority in the Kashmir valley 2) Pro-India –the preference of a majority in Jammu as well as in Ladakh and of a small minority in the valley and 3) Pro-Pakistan –the preference of a small minority in the valley and even smaller one in the valley.

In this paper we shall argue that the ethnic identity formation process is not static. To argue that the present assertion of the Kashmiri valley looking for independence is final and fixed is to deny the Kashmir history. Secession will not create the desired homogenous State its proponents often assume will be created. Nor does secession will reduce conflict, violence or minority oppression once independent State is created. The independent option has particularly become impossible to exercise especially after the developments of 9/11-and the issues of State security has particularly become sensitive. Besides, little confusion notwithstanding, the international community and international law and the United Nations have refused to recognize the right to self-determination that might hamper the existing territorial integrity of the sovereign State.

The secession is never an answer because such an exercise will seriously dampen efforts the inter-ethnic accommodation not only in Kashmir but also in other parts of India. Efforts of the Kashmiri leaders ought to be directed at devising institutions to extract maximum self-rule in the existing states, rather than thinking in terms of exit options. The crux of the argument therefore, is, the exit options of the Kashmiri people is dependent on certain national and international factors, which are still not there in the horizon.

There is no Finality in the Articulation of Ethnic Identity:

It is true that Kashmir’s inclusion to India remains a debatable issue—but after the initial vagaries over the much talked about UN resolution, one cannot deny that apart from political inclusion the socio-cultural integration of Kashmir with India was almost complete. This social integration of the Kashmiris with the rest of India was facilitated by the essence of Kashmiriyat culture so much so that Kashmir was considered to be the paradise on earth.55 Kashmir till the beginning of the insurgency was the most attractive tourist spot in India.

 Even on the eve of tribal intrusion in Kashmir in 1947, Shiekh Abdullah, the unchallenged leader of Kashmir people opposed Kashmir’s inclusion with Pakistan and raised a group of volunteers to be known as ‘Peace Brigade’ to resist Pakistan’s occupation.6 However he wanted to keep the exit option open and he said—‘under the provisions of the international agreement, we can sever our relations with India even today, if we wish to do so. This right is given to our state and not to others.’7 The Indian State understood Kashmiri identity to be merged with larger Indian identity, as like other sub-national identities .On the other hand the Kashmiri leaders understood their relationship with India as a ‘division of sovereignty whereby the state would retain complete internal sovereignty’.8 When Shiekh Abdullah felt that the Kashmiri identity is not going to be protected under the existing arrangement, he started exploring the idea of an independent Kashmir and once again differentiated between the Muslim and non-Muslims of the state. On 8 August 1953 Abdullah was dismissed and arrested.

In 1965, Pakistan made another effort and sent raiders in the hope of inciting the Kashmiri population to revolt against India.9Pakistani leaders had hoped that the local Muslim population would join the revolt against the Indian authorities. But no such incidents had ever happened. In contrast to that the Kashmir people used to give vital intelligence information to the Indian authority regarding the Pakistani troop movement. The total victory of India over Pakistan in 1971 war had some remarkable repercussions in the changing of equations between India and Kashmir. Pakistan’s total defeat in the war made the realization among the Kashmiri leaders that Pakistan can no longer be used as the bargaining card.10 Sheikh Abdullah also abandoned the goal of seeking sovereign status and said—‘our dispute with Government of India is not about accession but it is about quantum of autonomy’.11 This acceptance by the Kashmiri leaders provided a golden opportunity to settle the Kashmir dispute for the Indian rulers—but it did not happen. Besides, the election of 1983 generated lot of positive response among the voters. One positive feature of this election was the total marginalisation of the plebiscite issue-‘people said that the past was dead and they were participating in this election as the Indians.’12 The Indian ruling elites from this period would begin a party and personality centric policies, which had continuously broken all the democratic norms and institutions of the state that ultimately led to massive upsurge of violence in 1989.It’s basically Government of India that has created mistakes by toppling the genuinely elected Government, in the process took measures to all diabolical tactics and undermined the democratic process by rigging the election to suit the narrow party interest in power. In this regard, the opinion of a very prominent writer and public figure from Kashmir- Balraj Puri, is worth recalling —-‘ Skeikh Abdullah’s dismissal signaled the message that if Kashmiri people did not wish to remain within India, they would not be allowed to secede whereas the dismissal of Farooq conveyed the message that even if the people wished to remain within India they would not be free to choose their own Government.’13 The rigged election of 1987 had completely blocked the democratic channels for ventilating grievances of the Kashmiri people —the AK-47 coupled with Islamic indoctrination would now replace the secular and democratic polity of Kashmir. Today in Kashmir valley at least there will be very few to talk anything else but ‘azadi’.

Thus the legalities aside, there was an integration of the Kashmiri people with India or the Kashmiris certainly developed a working relationship with India till the full fledged eruption of insurgency in the early 1990s. Identity of the Kashmiri people as being Indian or as a non-Indian is not fixed. By giving a historical account of the Kashmiri identity we have tried to show that the crystallization of ethnic identity is not static, it is very often fluid depending on the socio-politico, economic and cultural situations. As demonstrated above, in number of occasions the Kashmirs have shown their affinities towards India but when that identity did not give a space to the Kashmiri identity the Kashmiri people retorted back. But to say the present identity is the ultimate and there are no other possibilities except secession or independent Kashmiri identity is not only to negate Kashmiri history but also many other such ethnic fluidity occurring in various parts of the world.

The Moro National Liberation Front in the Philippines moved from autonomy demands to separate statehood after the Philipine Government adopted a decentralization plan.14 Question arises whether the Kurds in Iraq secessionist or autonomist? Ibo tried unsuccessfully to secede and then reintegrated into the Nigerian politics. Few years back nobody could think there will be a big shift of the LTTE to an autonomous Tamil state within Sri Lanka. Coming to India, there are two pertinent examples of secessionist demands being accommodated within the framework of Indian federalism. They too had passed through such fluidity of identity.

The Mizo Natioanl Front (MNF) in Northeast India followed the same path, agreeing to a solution within the framework of Indian constitution in 1976 but after a cease-fire broke down three years later, returning to warfare to achieve independence. However the Mizo movement, which was considered to be the one most violent intractable movement in Indian history had come to a happy end in 1985 when the MNF signed an accord with the Government of India. Today Mizoram is one of the most well administered states and in terms of human development-particularly in education it is at par with Kerala. Another important example is Nagaland –which had declared independent on the 14th Auguat, 1947. Although the Naga movement is not resolved yet, negotiation is going on from 1997 with the NSCN –who has given up the demand for independence for Greater Nagaland or ‘Nagalim’.

International Law, United Nations (UN) and Right to Self-Determination:

Having said that our argument is not to suggest that the independence is a quite impossibility. However this realization of an independent State is dependent on certain factors. Whether Kashmir fulfills those factors is again a big question. The basic point here is that although there is some confusion, the international Law in contemporary times does not allow the right to secede until there is some major sanction on it by the UN and other powers of the world. “Self-determination is not mentioned in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, even though there is a preambular reference to developing friendly relations between nations.”15 The United Nations by the UN General Assembly in 1960 adopted the declaration on the Granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples. 16 The declaration “[s]olemnly proclaims the necessity of bringing to a speedy and unconditional end to colonialism in all its forms and manifestations “ and declares that “ [a]ll peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic , social and cultural development “.17 

But article 6 then makes it clear that self-determination cannot be interpreted in ways that oppose self-determination to “the existing geographical delimitation of territorial boundaries of existing states.”18 It stipulates, “[a]ny attempt at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of the country is incompatible with the purposes and the principles of the charter of the United Nations’. Article 7 then follows with the injunction that it is the duty of all the states to ‘uphold the obligation to enforce the charter of the United Nations and the Universal declaration of human rights States respect for the sovereign rights of all peoples and their territorial integrity’. The articles here are clear enough to suggest that the UN has sealed the scope of any secession. This has led Richard Falk to remark that, in essence, coupling self-determination to de-colonization meant subordination of ‘the notion of the self-determination itself…to an overriding conception of the unity and integrity of the State’.19 

“The obvious questions raised by the declaration on colonial countries –for instance the definition of “peoples” and the larger issue of whether the right to self determination exists outside the context of decolonisation –were addressed, if not necessarily clarified, ten years later in the declaration on principles of international law concerning friendly relations and co-operation among the States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.”20 Among those issues relevant to the issue of self-determination, includes the following ——” By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, all peoples have the right freely to determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and every State has the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provision of the charter. Every State has the duty …….a) to promote friendly relations and co-operation among States; and b) to bring a speedy end to colonialism……Nothing in the foregoing paragraphs shall be constructed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States conducting themselves in accordance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples…The territorial integrity and political independence of the State are inviolable…”21 The topic whether the UN Declaration of 1970 on Friendly Relations contain any scope for secession generated some heated among the scholars of international law and the ethnic studies. Here the observation of British jurist James Crawford is very important— …State practice since 1945 shows very clearly the extreme reluctance of the State to recognize or accept unilateral secession outside the colonial context. The practice has not changed since 1989, despite the emergence during that period 22 new States. On the contrary, the practice has been powerfully reinforced.”22 Most cases such as Eritrea and the Baltic States, involved mutual consent. Finally he says, there is “no recognition of a unilateral right to secede based merely on the majority vote of the population of a given subdivision or territory. In principle, self –determination for peoples or groups within the State is to be achieved by participation in its constitutional system, and on the basis of respect for its territorial integrity.”23 Where central governments oppose unilateral secession, Crawford argues, the secessionist gains little or no international recognition.

There is some confusion regarding the interpretation of self-determination by the International Covenant on Economic, social and cultural rights (ICESCR) adopted by UN resolution 2200A(XXI) of 16 December 1966 that came into force from January 1976. This Covenant has to be read with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) adopted by UN resolution 2200A(XXI) of 16 December 1966 that came into force from March 1976. Both the Covenants have unequivocally recognized the right to self-determination. 24 But nowhere there is any reference that these covenants recognize external self-determination. On the contrary, in a number of references and articles both the Covenants have limited the scope of these rights on the basis of public morality and State security. For example, the article 19 part 2 says, “2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice. 3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals.”25 Further, the article 20 part 1 says, “Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.”26 Again the article 21 of ICCPR says, “The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (order public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”27

So far as the opinion of UN is concerned, the Secretary General Kofi Anon is not very keen for a UN mediation in Kashmir .In one of his visits to the sub-continent in 2001, he described the decades old Security Council Resolution as unenforceable and essentially defunct. He said-The UN does not deny that Kashmir is an unresolved international dispute but its position is— it can consider playing a role in either mediating or facilitating a settlement if both Pakistan and India agree to it. India does not accept the role of UN –here perhaps ends an effective role of UN. 28 

Role of the Contending Forces in the Dispute

It is pertinent here to look into the role of contending States involved in the dispute—India and Pakistan. The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh once again makes India’s position on Kashmir’s territorial integrity clear when he rejected a plan mooted by the president Musharaf.29 Such radical demands on the part of Pakistan notwithstanding, there are instances to suggest that Pakistan is of late showing considerable flexibility on the Kashmir issue. While acknowledging the centrality of Kashmir issue the Pakisatni Prime minister Shukat Aziz had covered substantial bilateral economic issues including a proposed natural gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan on his last visit to India in the month of November 2004. 30Another most remarkable development in recent times is the shift of Pakistan’s stated position from holding referendum in Kashmir. Pakistan’s long-standing position has been that a referendum should decide if the divided territory becomes part of Pakistan or India. In this regard the recent remark of president Musharaf is significant—”we are for UN resolutions-however, now we have left that aside. If we want to resolve this issue, both sides need to talk to each other with flexibility, coming beyond stated positions, meeting halfway somewhere”.31 Although president Musharaf had contradicted his statement later on but it proves that Pakistan is ready to accept a practical solution to the problem.

The Minority Issue in the Kashmir Dispute :

Donald Horowitz, professor of Law and Political Science at Duke University is considered to be one most celebrated writer on contemporary ethnic identity issues of the world. He made some very interesting observation on the issue of protecting the minority rights by the secessionist group. He said—” There are always ethnic minorities in secessionist regions. There are Efik and Ijaw , among others in Biafra; there are Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims in Tamil areas of Sri Lanka, ……Proponents of the right to secession assure us that minority rights must be guaranteed in secessionist states and that secession should be less favored if minority rights are unlikely to be respected , but the verbal facility of this formulation masks the difficulty of achieving any such results ….If the failure to respect minority rights in the undivided State induced a regional group to reconsider secession , why should any one assume that the situation will be different when that group , a minority in the undivided state, constitutes a majority in the secessionist state ?..”32 Thus secession merely reproduces the hegemony of the majority and minority rights remain unprotected.

 Yasin Malik , the leader of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has been arguing that he would bring back the entire Kashmiri minority that he drove them back at one point of time. One independent researcher from Center for defense studies, Kings College Mr Alexder Evans says out of one hundred seventy thousand, 97% of the total Kashmiri pundits have left Kashmir valley by 1990.33 There are other small minority groups like Sikh, Buddhist and Jain –majority of them have left the valley. Can we take Malik for granted because it was the same Yasin Malik who issued quit notices to the Kashmiri Pundits and those threats were published in the regional News papers ‘Alsafa’ and ‘Sri Nagar Times’.

Yasin Malik again tells us that they are asking for an independent Jammu and Kashmir State of pre-1947 position.34

 It will be wrong to assume that a total independence is the solution that can satisfy the varying demands of other minorities living in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh region. It is because the population is divided into a multiplicity of religions, ethnic and linguistic lines and caste groups. There are four major religious groups to be found in J&K and they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist. These religious groups are further divided along the lines of region, ethnicity, language, caste and political affiliation. Thus for example the first preference of a majority Kashmiri Muslim from the Kashmir valley (the historical center of all struggle) is an independent Jammu and Kashmir. But that Gujjar co-religionist of Jammu is usually to stay with India.35 Ladakh with a population of about 200,000 contains a slim majority of Buddhists whose Tibetan culture keeps them removed from separatist activities and the Muslim inhabitants of Ladakh are predominantly Shia communities that are distanced from the Sunni Muslim population of the valley. 36

Inter-Group Accommodation will be halted throughout India:

If argument is put forwarded that the Kashmir valley is to be divided where the majority in all probability would vote for independence is again problematic. In that case the division from India will take place on the basis of religion—the Kashmiris may have all the characteristics to be called as a distinct nationality but on account of the valley being Muslim people—it will be dubbed as another partition in India to be taken place on the basis of religion—the first being the bloodiest partition that had ever taken place on earth. This partition will put more than 160 million Muslim living in nook and corner of India in danger and might instigate a civil war. Every act of terrorism in Kashmir strengthens the case of Hindu fundamentalist forces would immediately declare war on the Muslims. The state of Gujarat has clearly expressed the nature of terror that Hindu fundamentalist forces can unleash on the minority community. This in turn, would also encourage other secessionist movements across the sub-continent. This will prove that no two religions can exist together- this will also prove that there is no place for diversity in democracy in addition to destroying the vibrant syncretic Kashmiriyat culture that the Kashmris used to have till the recent times.

Secession can hardly be said to solve the problem of inter-group accommodation, “except”, says Horowitz, “of course it enables the former minority, now a new majority to cleanse the secessionist state of its minorities –which it could not do previously..”37 Articulation of the right to secede will seriously undermine attempts to achieve inter-ethnic accommodation within the states. India is arguably the world’s most diverse society. Its plurality encompasses 25 constitutionally recognized languages and 1000 other languages many of them crying for constitutional recognition, about 2000 castes, 15 major religions and more than 2,800 ethnic communities.38 Jammu and Kashmir with its extraordinary medley of races, tribal groups, languages and religions, in many ways, a microcosm of India.39Secession of one region upsets ethnic balances and forces other groups in other regions to think afresh about whether they wish to remain in the truncated state with its new ethnic balances. This was clearly visible in Yugoslavia after the Slovene and Croat decisions to secede, when others had to decide in turn whether the relative expansion in Serb power in the rump state was in their interest.

Violence as a medium of ventilating grievances has its serious limitations. Democracy in addition to right to self-determination also means peaceful resolution of conflict, freedom of press and speech, gender justice, respect for diversity, protecting the interest of the minority and tolerance. In other words, the terrorist organizations cannot be the representative of the Kashmiri. The problem with the insurgent or terrorist group is that they always pretend to be representing the interest of all the sections of the society as they are “fighting a war on behalf of the people”. The insurgent groups works under extreme authoritarian principles where dissidence and difference is not at all tolerated. They possess all the authoritative, undemocratic, bureaucratic and military regimentation of a Military State apparatus. They fight a war on behalf of the people where mandate of the people is missing.

Even if plebiscite is conducted the terrorist groups will not allow to exercise the right neutrally. Loskar-e-toiba, Hibul Mujahidden, Harkatul Ansari, Lashkar-e-omar, Jaish-e-Mohmmad, Al-badr, Jammat-ul-Mujahiddeen—these are all Pakistan based terrorist groups. Even they dictate the day to lives of the people, the dress they wear and so on.40 It is expected with the closer ties between India and Pakistan the terrorist infiltration to Kashmir will come down.

Conclusion : Does this analysis in the above suggest that the Kashmiris will have to bear the brunt of the present state of affairs? No – this is never the attempt of the paper nor is this the scope of the paper—but Indian State has to make major changes in so far as to redefine its relationship with the multiple ethnic groups in the country. Under the existing arrangement there is no such institution that can replace the role of the State. Modern nation-state allows recognition of a single nation. This principle applied to a plural democracy when governed through electoral democracy, is inherently problematic. A mechanical application of the nation-state idea with its monolithic credo and one unified identity negated diversity and freedom that were fundamental to their culture. Trying to manage and enforce ideological and political conformity on the sub-nationalities in the interest of the nation-state is to ‘impose a monolithness and homogenization that were alien and alienating’.41 

The Center For South Asian Studies of University of California, Berkeley organized a lecture delivered by the then Pakistan ambassador to the USA Ashraf Jehangir Qazi on the “Nuclear Proliferation and the State of Affairs in Pakistan Today” on March 27, 2004. Regarding the settlement of Kashmir issue the Ambassador talked about a ‘win-win’ situation between India and Pakistan where the interest of Pakistan, people of Kashmir and India will be taken care of. In one of the questions to the Ambassador to specify that ‘win-win’ formula, and contrasting demands of three parties he said it would be wrong to expect an overnight solution, it might take three generations with the possibility of three Nobel Peace prizes being declared. But the peace process has to start and one cannot expect this to happen by sticking to the existing positions either by India, Pakistan or by the Kashmirs.

Doing nothing or mere continuation with the status quoism will further aggravate the situation. The Indian State has to offer something substantial which can primarily satisfy the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. There are more compelling reasons why India should take the present peace initiative to its logical conclusion. India is also under heavy pressure from the international human rights groups for its alleged violation of human rights more specifically from Amnesty International.42 Many writers argue that its record in Kashmir and its continuous animosity with Pakistan restricts India’s claim for big power in international arena. The remark of celebrated US expert on South Asia from the Brookings Institution, Stephen P. Cohen is worth mentioning—‘..it is no wonder that many have predicted the emergence of India as a major Asian power , or even a world class State. However this remains a problematic development as long as India’s comprehensive and debilitating rivalry with Pakistan continues, including that dimension of the rivalry that encompasses the fifty years old Kashmir dispute.’43 Rather than the international pressure or its quest for a great Power why India should be sincere in its approach is because the functioning and efficacy of the Indian State itself is in question. After more than fifty –five years of independence India today is beset by secessionist ethnic demands not only in Kashmir but also in her North eastern seven states where the history of secessionism is as old as her independence. How Indian State tackles the Kashmir dispute will have its far-reaching impact in the North-eastern states as well. There are striking similarities between the Kashmir region and the situation in the Northeast (NE). The history of secessionism is older in the NE part of India and NE shares about 5700 Km international borders with Bangladesh, China, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. Like Kashmir, the insurgency in the NE is aided and sustained by the neighboring States although the seven states like Kashmir too have similar stories of foul play by Indian ruling elites. Thus more than the international prestige and power, which is indeed an important question, it is more of legitimacy and credibility of the State in front of its citizens and subjects.

 We would like to conclude by reiterating that the issues of self-determination or the right to secession are virtually a non-option in Jammu and Kashmir. The exercise of these rights, particularly the right to secede is hardly recognized by the international law and international community. A few exceptional cases apart in the Baltic States and in East Timor, the Nation-States are extremely reluctant to recognize any issues that may compromise its sovereign rights. We have also argued that keeping in mind the nature of the demographic composition of Jammu and Kashmir, the exercise of the plebiscite will not only bring ethnic disaster to the state but also to the whole country. The real solution lies in the realization of the of the civil society groups and the other parties to fight for self-determination within the Indian Union.

(The paper is an abridged version of a paper, which was submitted to the Graduate Council of University of California, Berkeley in April 2004 as a Rotary World Peace Scholar under Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS). The writer would like to express his gratitude to Prof. Edwin Epstein, chairperson, PACS and Prof. Darren Zook, Associate Professor in History, UC Berkeley for their comment and suggestions, any omission however lies with the writer only).


      1   For brilliant exposition of these cultural perspectives see- Navnita Ch. Behera ‘State, Identity and Violence: Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh’ pp-32-41.,Manohar,2000.

      2   Often the cultural markers of a collective identity were shared by more than one community. For instance, a marble stone with the imprint of a large foot print, preserved at Asar-I-Sharif ,in SriNagar, is claimed by all the three major religious traditions .. For Muslims it is Qadam-I-rasul (the foot print of the prophet Muhammad), by Hindus as Vishnu-pad (the foot print of lord Vishnu), and by the Buddhists as Sakyamuni-pada (Buddha’s footprint); ibid, pp. 35.

      3   For these controversies see Alistair Lamb, Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy, 1846-1990 (Ertingfordbury, UK: oxford books,1991). For an Indian rejoinder see Premshankar Jha, Kashmir, 1947: Rival versions of History (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996)

      4   See Sumit Ganguly, Jonah Blank etc. ‘The Kashmir Question: Retrospect and Prospect’ in India Review, July, 2003, pp. 12-13.

      5   Kashmir till the beginning of the insurgency was the most attractive tourist spot in India.

      6   Navnita Ch. Behera , ‘State, Identity and Violence: Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh’, pp-66-67.

      7   Balraj Puri, Jammu: A clue to Kashmir Tangle, New Delhi, Published by Balraj Puri.1996,p.116.

      8   -ibid-.116-117.

      9   For an account of the war, see Russell Brines, The Indo-Pakistani conflict (New York: Pall Mal,1968)

    10   Navnita Chadra Behera, State, Identity and Violence: Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh,,p.128.

    11   The Times0f India, 10 March 1972.

    12   Tavleen Singh, Kashmir: A tragedy of errors, New Delhi: Viking, 1995,p., 30

    13   Balraj Puri, Kashmir toward Insurgency, New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1993, p.34.

    14   Far Eastern Economic Review ( HongKong), August17, 1979, p-28.

    15   Hurst Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination-The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990) , Pennsylvania, P-33.

    16   General Assembly resolution. 1514, 15 UN GAOR, Supp. (NO .16)

    17   Ibid, preamble, para,2.

    18   Paul Keal, European Conquest and the rights of Indigenous peoples, (Cambridge University Press, UK, 2003), p-131.

    19   Richard Falk, ‘The rights of peoples’, in J. Crawford (ed), The Rights of Peoples (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1988), P-26.

    20   Hurst Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination-The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights, P-34.

    21   GA resolution 2625, Annex. 25 UN, UN doc.A/5217, 1970.

    22   James Crawford, “State Practice and International Law in Relation to secession,”, British Yearbook of international Law, ( Oxford, England : Claredon Press, 1999), pp-85-117.

    23   -ibid-p-116.

    24   Both ICESCR and ICCPR have said under the article 1 “ All peoples have the right to self-determination .By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic social and cultural development.” See ICESCR and ICCPR, adopted by General Assembly resolution 2200A(XXI) of 16 Dec. 1966.

    25   ICCPR, adopted by General Assembly resolution 2200A(XXI) of 16 Dec. 1966.

    26   -ibid-

    27   -ibid-

    28   Sumantra Bose-Kashmir: Roots of conflict, path to peace, 2003, p-167.

    29   Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf last recently suggested that Kashmir could be divided into seven regions—any one of which could be demilitarized and either placed under the United Nations mandate, joint control or given independence. Prime Minster Manmohan Singh had promptly rejected the proposal saying that redrawing of boundaries was unacceptable. See Times of India, “ Aziz sticks to valley gun” November 25, 2004.

    30   -ibid-.

    31   BBC, South Asia, Decemeber, 18, 2003.

    32   Donald L. Horowitz, ‘A Right to secede?’ in Stephen Macedo and Allen Buchanan, ed. Secession and self-determination, (New York University Press, New York, 2003), p-54.

    33   Alexander Evans, ‘A Departure from History: Kashmiri Pundits, 1990-2001’,Vol.11, No1, March 01, 2002. Contemporary South Asia, 1996, p-45.

    34   In one of the Telephonic conversations with the students of University of California, Berkeley Classes in the Peace and Conflict Studies department, 15th March, 2004. The writer was present in that class.

    35   Sumantra Bose, Kashmir: Sources of Conflict, Dimensions of Peace, EPW, March 27,1999.

    36   Sumit Ganguly, Jonah Blank etc.‘The Kashmir Question :Retrospect and Prospect’ India Review, introduction, 2003.

    37   Donald L. Horowitz, ‘A Right to secede?’ in Stephen Macedo and Allen Buchanan, ed. Secession and self-determination,p-55.

    38   VA Pai Panandiker, forward section of Navnita Behera’s, State, Identity and Violence.

    39   -ibid-.

    40   For an account of the terrorist groups operating in Kashmir see , Praveen Swami, Terrorism in Kashmir, India Review, June, 2003, p-62.

    41   Ponna Wignaraja (ed), New Social Movements in the South: Empowering the people, ( New Delhi, Vistaar Publication, 1993) p-51.

    42   See Amnesty International Report, 2003.

    43   Stephen P. Cohen, India, Pakistan and Kashmir, presented at the University of Texas, December 2001. Also see Sumit Gaguly, Jonah Blank etc.The Kashmir question, India Review, July, 2003,p.5.