Kashmir – 1948 to 1966

Kashmir – Beginning of the conflict
Sheikh Abdullah became the Prime Minister of Kashmir on March 5, 1948. The government of Pakistan did not recognize his leadership. Kashmir was given a temporary status under the article 370 of the Indian constitution. Article 370 specified that the provisions of this article and article 1 (name and territory of the union) shall apply to the state. The Central government needed the State government’s approval except for Defense, Foreign Affairs and Communications. Kashmir was to have its with its own flag, emblem, constitution and Sadr-i-Riyasat (Prime Minister). The Article in brief gave partial autonomy to the state. Later in 1964, Article 356 (imposition of President’s rule), the control of Supreme Court and the Election Commission were extended to the state. Article 370 has been hotly debated in India. Some Indian commentators claim that this article gave a permanency to the temporary status to Kashmir and have called for the abrogation of the article.

Sheikh Abdullah, a populist ran his party (National Conference) with authoritarian ways. No opposition was allowed in the state. The Indian government did not care as long as Sheikh did not question the accession. In August 1953, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah was dismissed and arrested, and Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed became Prime Minister of the State and also President of the National Conference by majority vote of the State Cabinet. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed proved to be a great administrator and is remembered as the “Architect of Modern Kashmir” because of his work in the State. But he is also known for suppressing any political dissent and engaging in electoral malpractices. But Sheikh Abdullah was still popular. In 1950, Sheikh Abdullah passed two legislations (The abolition of big estates and the Distressed Debtors Relief act) aimed at improving the plight of poor people, especially farmers. Under these legislations, all estates greater than twenty-three acres were confiscated and either distributed to landless peasants or converted into state property.

1962 Sino-India War

The cause of the conflict between India and China were disputed territories of Aksai Chin (about 20 percent of the whole of Kashmir) in the northeastern section of Ladakh District in Jammu and Kashmir, and North-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Also, perceived Indian efforts to undermine Chinese control of Tibet is said to be the cause of the 1962 war. In the fight over these areas, the well-trained and well-armed troops of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army overpowered the ill-equipped Indian troops, who had not been properly acclimatized to fighting at high altitudes. Meantime, India had requested the United States for armed help, marking a departure from Nehru’s policy of non-alignment. The Soviets were preoccupied by the Cuban Missile Crisis and hence did not support India. The Chinese did not advance farther and on November 21 declared a unilateral cease-fire. They had accomplished all of their territorial objectives, and any attempt to press farther into the plains of Assam would have stretched their logistical capabilities and their lines of communication to a breaking point. The PRC withdrew from virtually all of Arunachal Pradesh to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which approximates the McMahon Line that is found in a 1914 agreement initialed by British, Tibetan, and Chinese representatives. But, Aksai Chin still remains under the control of Chinese.
China and Pakistan took steps to peacefully negotiate their shared boundaries and in March 1963, Pakistan conceded its northern claim line in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir to China in favor of a more southerly boundary along the Karakoram Range. The Indian Army’s defeat was seen as a national humiliation. Nehru came under harsh criticism, but he refused to abandon the Non Alignment position. However, military expenditures were increased and a plan was drafted for modernization of the Indian army and air-force.

Second Kashmir War 1965

In summer of 1965, Pakistan and Indian army exchanged skirmishes in Rann of Kutch. The skirmishes ended with Pakistan gaining 350 square miles (900 km²) of the Rann of Kutch. Pakistan army wanted to attack India/Kashmir before the modernization was complete for Indian army. The Pakistani army was keen on a new war. It was under the perception that locals would support the revolt in wake of the Hazratbal episode. In August 1965, Pakistani Army launched Operation Gibraltar. Pakistani soldiers entered Jammu and Kashmir and attempted to start a rebellion. But the locals did not respond and the operation was a debacle.
On August 15, 1965, Indian forces crossed the ceasefire line and launched an attack on Pakistan administered Kashmir. Indian forces scored a major victory captured three important mountain positions in the northern sector. Other Indian forces captured a number of strategic mountain positions and eventually took the key Haji Pir Pass, eight kilometers inside Pakistani territory. Pakistani launched a counterattack on September 1 in the southern sector, in Punjab, where Indian forces were caught unprepared and suffered heavy losses. UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution on September 20 that called for a cease-fire. New Delhi accepted the cease-fire resolution on September 21 and Islamabad on September 22, and the war ended on September 23. A peace agreement, brokered by the Soviets, was signed by the Indians and Pakistanis in Tashkent in January 1966. The agreement stipulated that both sides withdraw positions held prior to 1965.


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