Can there be a war with Pakistan?
Ph. D., born 1954; Prof., holder of the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations and Director of the India Studies Institute at Indiana University, 210 Woodburn Hall, 1100 E. 7th St., Bloomington, IN 47405 / USA.
Email: [email protected]
introductionFew regional conflicts lasted as long as the Indo-Pakistani one over the disputed Jammu and Kashmir area.  The two states went to war against each other four times (1947-48, 1965, 1971 and 1999). Three of these conflicts arose over the Kashmir issue (1947-48, 1965 and 1999). Countless other crises have shattered the relationship between India and Pakistan. More recently, the two states were on the brink of war in 1987, 1990 and 2001-2002. 
The origins of this conflict are complex and date back to the process of the withdrawal of British colonial power from the subcontinent in 1947. Shortly after becoming independent, both successor states of the British Indian Empire, India and Pakistan, laid claim to the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.  Pakistan, which had been created as the alleged motherland of the South Asian Muslims, justified its claims to Kashmir irredentistically: The Pakistani elites claimed that a Muslim-majority state bordering Pakistan must inevitably belong to Pakistan. India, founded on the basis of bourgeois nationalism, argued with just as vehemently that a state with a Muslim majority could flourish under the aegis of a secular political system.
In the hope of being able to maintain his empire as an independent state, the monarch, Maharaja Hari Singh, finally refused to join both India and Pakistan. Things came to a head when a tribal revolt broke out in the western part of the country in late October 1947. Soon afterwards the rebels reached Srinagar, the summer residence of the monarch, with substantial support from Pakistan. With the impending fall of his capital immediately before his eyes, he appealed to India with a request for military help. The Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru only promised his support under two conditions: In the absence of a referendum in which the wishes of the people of Kashmir would have been determined, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, who headed the largest and most popular secular political party in the state, must first (Jammu and Kashmir National Conference) to give consent. Second, the maharajah must formally declare membership of India. After these conditions were met, Indian troops were flown to Srinagar to stop the tribal advance, but only after a third of the state had fallen into Pakistani hands.  On the advice of Lord Mountbatten, India transferred the solution of the Kashmir question to the United Nations on January 1, 1948. Within the UN, the subject quickly became entangled in the Cold War and ended in a political impasse.  By the early 1960s, the United Nations and the great powers had lost interest in the Kashmir issue.
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