Proposed territorial reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir state

Dr G. M .Athar
June 17, 2017 0 Comments OPINION 341 Views

1.Introduction

The erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is presently controlled by three countries, namely,India, Pakistan and China. The people of constituent regions of Jammu and Kashmir State are demanding the unification of their motherland for the last seven decades but their demand has been ignored by all the three countries. The parties to the territorial dispute over Jammu and Kashmir State, which include India, Pakistan, China and the people of erstwhile princely state,have the maximalist self-centred divergent stands on the future of Jammu and Kashmir. There is no meeting ground among the parties to the territorial dispute over Jammu and Kashmir State except for their claim on the maximum territory of former princely state. In order to suggest the most viable territorial reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir State it is very essential to discuss first the maximalist position of each party and the most minimum territorial allocation permissible to each one. A brief account of various maximalist positions, most minimum territorial permissibility and optimum territorial reorganization ofJammu and Kashmir State is given as under:

2.Maximalist Position of India

The government of India maintains that Maharaja Hari Singh has signed the accession of his kingdom with Indian Union on 26th October 1947, so the entire territory of erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is legally a part of India. The government of India therefore claims the territory of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan presently under the control of Pakistan as well as Shaksgam Valley handed over by Pakistan on lease to China in 1950 and Aksai Chin occupied by China during Sino-India War of 1962.

3. Maximalist Position of Pakistan

The government of Pakistan maintains that Jammu and Kashmir was a Muslim dominated princely state in 1947 so as per the provisions of Indian Independence Act of British Parliament passed on 18th July 1947, the state had to accede to Pakistan. The Hindu ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to Indian Union against the wishes of the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir State who constituted 77% population of the Dogra kingdom as per 1941 census. Pakistan is therefore claiming the territory of Jammu and Kashmir State under the control of India.

4. Maximalist Position of People of Jammu and Kashmir

The people of erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir maintain that Indian Independence Act of the British Parliament did recognize the option of princely states to remain independent from India and Pakistan. The identical Standstill Agreement offered by the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir to India and Pakistan on 12th August 1947 was an exercise in this direction. The UN Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir haveundermined the right of self-determination of the people of the state to form an independent country. The people of Jammu and Kashmir State therefore claim the entire territory of former princely state to form an independent country.
5. Maximalist Position of China

Ever since China took control of Tibet in 1950, the issue of territorial delimitation between Jammu and Kashmir and Tibet was inherited by Beijing from Lhasa. Siachen Glacier, Karakoram Pass and Aksai Chin have great geostrategic and economic importance for China.Since Buddhist majority Leh district and Zanskar tehsil of Kargil district have close geographical, historical, ethnic, lingual and cultural ties with Tibet. China expects the region to remain under its sphere of influence. As long as China is in possession of Tibet, her territorial ambition to integrate Ladakh with Tibet is but natural.

6. Minimum Territory Permissible to India

The Hindu majority districts and tehsils of Jammu region bordering the Punjab and Himachal states of Indian Union are a geographical and cultural extension of northern India. If majority of the people in these Hindu majority districts and tehsils demand their integration with India, natural justice demands incorporation of these Hindu majority areas with Indian Union.

7.Minimum Territory Permissible to Pakistan

The Gilgit region has very significant geostrategic and economic importance for Pakistan. The country can ill-afford to surrender the territory to any other country.To be realistic,Pakistan needs to be permitted to retain Gilgit.

8. Minimum Territory Permissible to China

The Karakoram Highway passing through Aksai Chin and Shaksgam Valley makes the northern strip of Jammu and Kashmir highly important for China. In normal circumstances the country would be reluctant to demilitarize the road and the strip of land to its north. Hence China needs to be permitted to retain this narrow strip of land.

9. Minimum Territory Permissible to Kashmiri Nationalists

The Kashmiri speaking Muslims living in Kashmir Valley and its adjoining areas are constantly struggling for Aazadi for the last three decades if not more. In order to fulfill the nationalist aspirations of the Kashmiri heartland it is very essential to recognize the Kashmiri speaking territory of Kashmir Valley, Chenab Valley and GoolGulabgarh tehsil as an independent buffer state between India and Pakistan.

10. Optimum Territorial Reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir State

In order to balance the maximalist territorial aspirations and the most minimum territorial relaxation permissible to the parties to dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, it is very essential to devise a strategy of territorial reorganization that can satisfy India, Pakistan, China and the Kashmiri nationalists. It is therefore suggested to allow Pakistan to retain Gilgit and Balitstan but she must demilitarize the Azad Kashmir to integrate it with Kashmir Valley. Similarly, India can retain the Hindu majority districts and tehsils of Jammu region as well as the Buddhist majority Leh district and Zanskar tehisil but she must demilitarize the Muslim majority Kashmir Valley, Chenab Valley, Pir Panjal region and Suru-Shingo Valleys to establish independent Kashmiristan.China may be allowed to retain the uninhabited and mountainous parts of Shaksgam Valley and Aksai Chin that have least economic benefits for the people of Jammu and Kashmir State.
EMail: ghathar@yahoo.co.in

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