3.3.3. Kashmir’s Strategic Importanceto PakistanThe war between Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist with some otherminority forces, which supported the aggressive British, and the Islamic authorityof the time developed erratic results for the sides. Notably, Britain faced toughresistance of the Muslims when they invaded the peninsula in 1819. The British ultimatelymanaged to acquire sovereignty and stability over the region in 1846 upon 27years of fierce fighting with Muslims.
In the aftermath, Britain spread itssovereignty to the region with ease and thus came up with the division of theregion into three parts. In about 55% of the peninsula where Muslims were in majority,the British rule was directly administered while 565 provinces with autonomousgovernance were ruled through Hindu and Muslim governors. As for the third sectionof the division, which is known as Kashmir, it was sold to Hindu feudalism fora hundred years of time in accordance with the the treaty, which is known asAmritsar signed on March 16, 1846 between the sides of British East IndiaCompany and Gulab Singh Dogra to legitimize the arrangements of the peacetreaty following the First Anglo-Sikh War. Accordingly, Jammu and Kashmir washanded over to Gulab Singh in exchange of little sum of 7.5 million Rupees (some $2,250,000)for his service at the war and fell under the domination of the Hindus on thegrounds of such agreement.1 The Hindu administration in Kashmircontinued to provide overt or covert support for the British rule till 1947when the British separated the peninsula into two states according to theirpopulation with the exception of Kashmir; India and Pakistan. However, theHindu ruler of Kashmir joined India without paying any concern to the wishes ofthe Muslim people. It should be noted that while the British Hindu Peninsulawas divided into India and Pakistan, theBritish Cabinet Mission Memorandum was sent to the executives ofthe 565 Indian provinces on 12, 05,1946, calling on its people to remainindependent or accede to one of the two states for their respective provinces,India or Pakistan that they should make their decisions.
2Yet, the provinces of Hayderabad, Srinagar and Kashmir were prevented fromparticipating in their respective state of Pakistan. Especially, the reason forthe prevention of Hayderabad and Srinagar from such an accession to Pakistanwas that the rulers of these provinces were Muslims although the majority ofthe population was composed of Hindu. Thus, they joined India whereas the rulerof Kashmir was Hindu, but most of the population was Muslim, they were notallowed to join Pakistan, but India. The factor that made it possible for thesethree provinces, especially Kashmir, to be annexed to India, was that theBritish favored the Hindus and granted them privileges. Following such a fraudannexation to Indian side, successive wars broke out between India, the Hindurulers on one front and Muslims of Kashmir, Pakistan on the other, whichconcluded with the present form of Kashmir; 65% by India, 30% by Pakistan andthe remaining 5% by China.
Though generally known as a problem between Pakistanand India, the Kashmir dispute involves China as well, yet it doesnot come tothe agenda so much as the one between Pakistan and India. Kashmir isgeographically surrounded by Afghanistan over a very small border at theeastern end of Pakistan, China, India and Wakhan Corridor. It may even be thoughtthat Kashmir is adjacent to Tajikistan in the north via the narrow WakhanCorridor. So Pakistan, China, India, Afghanistan and Tajikistan are theneighbors of Kashmir. In different aspects, these five countries are thecountries frequently mentioned within regional and global politics.
China’sneighborhood to Kashmir, East Turkestan (Sincan-Uyghur Autonomous Region) andTibet also make Kashmir both geopolitically and strategically valuable. In ageneral context, Kashmir is actually composed of four parts. North of Kashmir is controlled by Pakistanand in the west, there stands the Azad Kashmir Islamic Republic, which is notrecognized except for Pakistan, and is under the control of Pakistan. While inthe south lies the Jammnu-Kashmir region controlled by India, in the east, thearea called Aksai China spans, which China added to its country at the end ofthe war against India in 1962 and Pakistan relinquished its own hold in favor Chinain 1963, thus inflaming Indian insistence on the claims of such piece of land. Thepart of Kashmir controlled by China subsequent to Pakistan’s relinquisment ofthe sovereignty availed Beijing to control Karakoram highway, which runs fromEast Turkestan and ends in East Turkestan, thus providing the Pakistan-Chinaoverland route.
With such a partition of Kashmir among the claimantcountries, the magnititude of the region for Pakistan is strategicallyundisputable. The motives of strategic value are of various grounds rangingfrom offsetting the political balance with India to acting as protectorate ofthe Muslims in the region. The strong Kashmir belief mixed within Pakistanisentimentalism and fed by the notion of prestige gained at national level fuelthe Pakistani desire to accede the Kashmir to the land of Pakistan.