Let’s get an insight into something that happened over 72 years ago and to this day remains an important topic of discussion and deliberation.
When the partition between India and Pakistan was happening, Jammu and Kashmir was given an option to either be a part of India or Pakistan. But the then ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh took the decision to remain as an independent state, a decision he would have surely regretted later.
The Maharaja had started levying higher taxes on the peasantry and this lead to a series of protests and the government had to use violent suppression to bring them under control. Due to this internal unrest, on 21st October, Pakistan’s Pashtoon tribal attacked Jammu and Kashmir in the year 1947. They were led by trained military men and were highly equipped. The state was helpless and Maharaja Hari Singh approached the Indian government for help. The then Governor-General Lord Mountbatten agreed to help by saying that as and when the order was restored in the state, the accession of the state will take place through the wish of the people.
After this, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession at Amar Palace in Jammu on October 26, which was accepted by Lord Mountbatten on October 27. By executing this document under the Indian Independence Act 1947, he agreed to be a part of the dominion of India and handed over control of the defense, external affairs, and communications to the Government of India.
The Indian government immediately sent their troops for help and at the same time, Pakistan also came into the picture. After that, a scuffle ensued between India and Pakistan and the control stabilized at the place known as Line of Control.
On the advice of the United Nations, the Indian government tried to hold a referendum so that the Kashmir people could decide whether they want to be a part of India, Pakistan or want to remain as an independent state. But this was not successful as it would require both India and Pakistan to withdraw their troops and this was something that would never happen. There was also opposition from Pakistan and some Kashmiri people who felt that India’s accession to Kashmir did not have much legal validity.
This signing of the Instrument of Accession and the possibility of a referendum was what led to a major fight between India and Pakistan and to this day has been a topic of debate with India claiming that it is unconditional and Pakistan claiming that it had been done in a fraudulent manner. Thus, a ceasefire was established with India and Pakistan having different parts of Kashmir under their control.
After this accession, the part of Jammu and Kashmir under India moved on the democratic path under the guidance of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution whereas the part under Pakistan’s domain was divided into two parts: Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Northern Areas, which consisted of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir is governed under the Azad Kashmir Interim Constitution Act passed in 1974. Even though they have a president, prime minister, and a council, the governing structure is powerless and approaches Pakistan for even very small issues. Their leaders gave up the Northern parts to Pakistan under their Karachi agreement of 1949, which governs the rule of Pakistan over Gilgit-Baltistan and was signed between the president of Azad Kashmir, the Muslim Conference and a minister from Pakistan, Mushtaq Ahmed Gurmani. A part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s Hunza-Gilgit, the Shaksgam Valley, region of Raksam and Baltistan was given by Pakistan to China in 1963.
After this division, Jammu and Kashmir have not seen many sunny days with innumerable wars between India and Pakistan over PoK. This has even sparked many controversies with political leaders from both sides being at loggerheads with each other. Recently Farooq Abdullah, Srinagar MP and National Conference supremo said that PoK belongs to Pakistan and India should stop talking about Azadi. He commented on India not taking proper care of Kashmir and not having kept their promise, claiming that Pakistan is not a weak country and they will also retaliate if India tries to make any advances. On the other hand, the Indian army chief, Bipin Rawat said that PoK was being used by Pakistani terrorists as a hub to spread terrorism and disrupt the normal conditions of Kashmir. One of the largest terrorist organizations in South Asia, Lashkar-e-Taiba has established many of its training camps here.
Pakistan occupied Kashmir is an area of extreme political conflict and tensions and the main cause of tension between India and Pakistan. There is also a complete lack of independent media as they are under the control of Pakistan. Information about Pakistan occupied Kashmir been a kind of mystery for the common man as not much has been written about it though it is something that is of extreme political and historical significance.