by Humma Qureshi 21 July 2023
July 19, the day when Kashmir accession was signed by Maharaja Hari Singh was signed against the will of the people living in the valley. Not just it remains controversial in its reliability, but analysts have also questioned its validity. The day marks as the most significant event in Kashmir’s history. This article explores the complications surrounding Kashmir Accession Day and argues in favor of a more all-encompassing strategy for settling the protracted Kashmir conflict.
The history of Kashmir is directly tied to the challenges of decolonization and partition of the Indian subcontinent. Princely states, justifiably, were given choices to decide their accession. Whether they wanted to stay independent, or to seek accession with Pakistan or India. Kashmir being a Muslim majority state had public wanting to join Pakistan. But Hari Singh’s stubbornness and unfavored tilt towards Nehru left never ending stain on Kashmir’s history.
The day could be remembered to celebrate if all the things had occurred justly, but for now one can only condemn the events that took place in October 1947 and afterwards.[i] Diverse aspirations of the people of the region must be acknowledged in order to promote a more inclusive perspective. The population of Kashmir is heterogeneous, with varying opinions about its political future. When these perspectives are ignored, the gravity of the issues at hand is diminished and tensions among communities may be exacerbated. Undoubtedly, the Kashmir war has been tainted by years of violence and human rights violations by Indian forces in the valley. Numerous incidences of alleged human rights violations in the area have been reported by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other human rights organizations. Extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, torture, sexual assault, and disproportionate use of force by security personnel are only a few examples of these violations. There have also reportedly been limits on people’s freedoms of speech, assembly, and travel, as well as instances where civilians, including children, have suffered serious injuries because of pellet gun use.
Critics of the commemoration of Kashmir Accession Day argue that in order to promote a fair and long-lasting resolution to the conflict, these human rights issues must be addressed. Justice, accountability, and the protection of human rights for all parties affected by the Kashmir dispute must be prioritized in any comprehensive strategy to resolve the conflict.
International law and the United Nations Charter both uphold the principle of self-determination, which gives individuals the freedom to choose how they want to develop politically, economically, socially, and culturally without intervention from outside forces. The UN Security Council recognized the value of self-determination for Kashmir in resolutions it adopted in 1948 and 1949.
On April 21, 1948, Resolution 47 was passed, requesting a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir so that residents may choose whether to join India or Pakistan.[ii] Due to differences between India and Pakistan over the departure of troops, the plebiscite was never held, which has resulted in continuous tensions and hostilities in Kashmir.
The Kashmiri people have a strong grievance against the denial of self-determination, which has sparked separatist groups and steadfast calls for their right to self-determination. The fact that India celebrates Kashmir Accession Day has a huge impact on relations between India and Pakistan. Pakistan challenges the legality of the annexation, claiming that it was forced and not in accordance with the will of the Kashmiri people.[iii] Pakistan has continuously backed the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination and pushed for international action to settle the conflict.
A thorough strategy including all parties is necessary for an inclusive and peaceful resolution of Kashmir as an International dispute. Understanding the intricate dynamics of the region requires meaningful talks with the people of Kashmir, considering their ambitions and concerns.
To identify common ground and create long-lasting solutions, dialogue between India and Pakistan is still essential. The right to self-determination is one of the key concerns in the disagreement that should be addressed by serious diplomatic engagement. Cross-border trade and cultural interactions are two confidence-building methods that can aid in establishing goodwill and trust between the two countries.[iv]
[i] Alastair Lamb, Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy, 1846-1990, 03 ed. (Oxford University Press, 1992).
[ii] Raies Mir, “19th July, Special Importance in Kashmir’s History,” The Kashmir Discourse, July 19, 2022, https://www.thekashmirdiscourse.com/19th-july-special-importance-in-kashmirs-history/.
[iii] “Kashmiris Observing ‘Accession to Pakistan Day’ Today,” Radio Pakistan, July 19, 2022, https://www.radio.gov.pk/19-07-2022/kashmiris-observing-accession-to-pakistan-day-today#:~:text=According%20to%20Kashmir%20Media%20Service.