How did Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) come into existence and what is India’s position on it?
If one goes by the official line, Kashmir is at best a very complex subject! At its worst, it is a war ravaged region with no peaceful existence in sight. But what is Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) as seen from Indian side?
To understand Pok we need to understand the situation in Kashmir in a fair, objective and impartial way. Following are certain key facts related to the same.
1. Let’s face it. Kashmir is controversial!
Indians might deny that Kashmir is a disputed territory. And we have every right to do so! But we cannot dispute that Kashmir issue has been a headache. Irrespective of our position on it, we cannot neglect the fact that Kashmir is not just another Indian state with a problem.
2. Pakistan’s Aggression
Pakistan has willfully and deliberately occupied part of Kashmir and stoked fire in the region. Terrorist activity and pro-independence militia of Kashmir are only part of the problem. Since 1948 Pakistan has time and again tried to intervene in Kashmir’s affairs. Its aggression and open war in the region in 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999 are ample proofs for this.
3. Pakistan’s Double Speak
This Pakistani intervention in what it calls ‘disputed Kashmir’ is its own misadventure. It is independent of India’s relation with the erstwhile princely state of Kashmir or the Indian state of Kashmir as it exists today. This intervention has continued.
4. Indians Must Realize!
The international border, for all practical purposes, has always been the Line of Control (LoC). India claims the entire region of Jammu and Kashmir to be its rightful territory. But the ground situation is complicated. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir has never been under India’s control right since Independence.
Kashmir dispute has claimed countless lives and immeasurable resources. We are all for national integrity and rightfulness. But this should never undermine the fact that a nation is defined most by its people. There can be no nationality or national spirit without people’s will or without people!
Okay! So what about Pok and why does India not capture it?
1. After partition, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir decided to remain independent. India and Pakistan dispute its accession.
But originally, it chose none!
2. Pakistan resisted this independence. It sent local tribesmen to fan conflict in its favor. This disturbed the Hindu ruler of Kashmir, Hari Singh, who sought help from India.
3. India skeptically and cleverly decided that it could only intervene if Kashmir was its territory.
4. Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession with the Indian Prime Minister. Thus, Kashmir formally became a part of India. India sent forces and resisted Pakistan’s aggression. So was it inevitability or will is anybody’s guess?
5. Meanwhile, Pakistan supported groups/militia took over part of Kashmir territory. Indians did not force the issue and struck to their positions in and around the main Valley of Kashmir. So the part occupied by Pakistani militia in 1947-48 remains with it!
6. This divided Kashmir divided into two parts. One is what we call the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and the other is Indian Kashmir.
The Status and the Issues Now!
7. The border separating these two Kashmir’s is the line of control (LoC). As stated earlier, this is the status since 1947 and the line was recognized as the status quo border.
8. India appealed to the international community through United Nations, to help settle the dispute. The international observers also felt that the line seems a good alternative border position to maintain until a plebiscite/referendum is held in Kashmir.
9. But Pakistan continued its interference in Kashmir. So India refused any toned down response. There was no plebiscite which Pakistan insists must happen. India cites Kashmir elections held regularly as its claim over the region. Moreover, it does not plan to conduct plebiscite stating Pakistan’s continuous manipulation games in Kashmir. Demilitarization of the region was a pre-condition for referendum. But neither side trusts the other with it!
So Pakistan Occupied Kashmir…
- remains with Pakistan because India has agreed to status quo under international community’s watch
- was never under Indian control since independence
- was not reclaimed when Pakistan raised militia or trained tribesmen in the region in 1947-48
- might be a case of too little too late!
- is not more important than peace between two nuclear armed neighbors with India being the ‘responsible elder brother’
Finally, with or without Pakistan occupied Kashmir, nothing should stop India from preventing Pakistan’s aggression in Indian Kashmir!
Do let us know what you think of Indo-Pak relations in context of Kashmir.