Since British India was divided into: Pakistan, intended as a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent; and India, a mainly Hindu state, there have been three wars. The main dispute is Kashmir. During the British period Kashmir was a princely state ruled by a Hindu Rajah. However, most of the population is Muslim. In 1947 the ruler decided to join India, though the people, if asked, might have wished to join Pakistan. In 1990 the people seem to be in revolt against Indian rule and the reported brutality of the "security forces".

Other causes of war with India have been: the Rann of Cutch, an arid area on the west coast where there is a border dispute; the revolt of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Pakistani forces invaded Kashmir and occupy about a third of the country where there is a regime known as Azad (free) Kashmir.

The obvious solution to the Kashmir problem would have been a referendum of the people of Kashmir but the Indian government does not wish to concede this and it may now be too late.

By June 2002 there seemed to be a danger of renewed war between Pakistan and India, both now possessing nuclear weapons. The Indian government says it has a policy of not using them first, but the Pakistani government has no such policy, and is thought to be ready to use them if faced with conventional defeat.

In April 2005 new transport links between the Indian and Pakistani areas are signs of peace efforts by the Indian Prime Minister and the Pakistan military president. These are hopeful signs, though agreement on a permanent frontier has not been reached.

However, the turmoil in Pakistan at the end of 2007 makes the future seem more uncertain.

This article suggests that a political solution with Kashmir is possible, though the disintegration of the Pakistani political system may make it unrealisable. The war on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas also distracts world statesmen from the Kashmir problems.

The problems with the United States stem from the war in Afghanistan. The US war aims are said to be the capture of Osama bin Laden who was believed to be hiding in the tribal areas, nominally part of Pakistan but in reality unadministered as they have been since British times. The British had greater power but still didn't control the Tribal Areas.

Osama was killed by an American Special Forces group in his house in Abbotaband, one of the main Pakistan military towns.

It is unclear where the center of political power is in Pakistan. The elected government appears weak and corrupt whereas the military still seem to be making policy, especially with regard to Afghanistan where the Inter Services Intelligence organisation (ISI) seem to favor the Taliban. Were they protecting Bin Laden?

Last revised 16/08/11


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