Topic 2 – The Question of India and Pakistan: issue briefing pack

Topic 2 – The Question of India and Pakistan: how can current tensions between the two nations be resolved?

Background and Context

British colonial rule came to an end in India on the 14th and 15th of August, 1947. India was then split into the Union of India, a secular democracy, and the Dominion of Pakistan, an Islamic republic led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim league. The process of geographical separation and the actual division of India and Pakistan was set out in the Indian Independence Act of 1947 (or the Mountbatten plan). Massive population exchanges (approximately 14.5 million people) then took place, leaving 330 million people in India and 60 million people in East and West Pakistan respectively. However, partition was extremely violent and displaced 10-12 million refugees.

Tensions between the newly created nations worsened due to a territorial dispute over an area called Kashmir. This was a Muslim-majority state with a Hindu prince and both countries expected that Kashmir would join each new nation respectively. However, following huge riots in a nearby area called Jammu, and conflict between Hindus and Muslims, Pashtuns from Pakistan invaded Kashmir. This forced then Prince Hari Singh into acceding Kashmir into India and getting the assistance of Indian soldiers to drive the rebels out of all but a small section of Kashmir.

Following this conflict, India and Pakistan went to war over Kashmir two other times and also went to war in 1971 over the independence of East Pakistan into Bangladesh. A plebiscite for Kashmiris never took place and tension between both countries has continued to escalate.

Current Situation

Following a terrorist attack in terrorist attack in Pulwama by radical Islamic group Jaish E Mohammad that killed over 40 Central Reserve police personnel, India accused Pakistan again of state-sponsored terrorism. Pakistan has also previously been accused of state-sponsored terrorism by Afghanistan, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. When Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the US on a diplomatic initiative this year, he admitted to 30,000-40,000 armed terrorists residing in the country. However, India responded to the attack by retaliating with an attack in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir(POK) killing supposedly 300-350 terrorists, but Pakistan claimed they had scrambled India’s jets and forced them to go back over the Line of Control. Pakistan would carry out an airstrike against multiple targets in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and captured an Indian aircraft pilot, but India would again reject aspects of Pakistan’s version of events.

Most recently, India repealed the special status of the disputed territory of Kashmir. India in a bid to further integrate Kashmir into India. In doing so, the state was placed under 53 days of curfew and internet/mobile services were temporarily disabled. India has received criticism for this manoeuvre from Pakistan and has also been accused of using repressive measures against Kashmiri Muslims.

It is clear that these various border skirmishes are becoming increasingly dangerous, especially given that both nations harness a significant nuclear arsenal. Furthermore, it is dangerous that both countries have been using these military strikes as ways to spread political propaganda and rile up national support. However, the committee should not ignore genuine concerns over accusations of state-sponsored terrorism that has taken the lives of many people and the escalating violence in Kashmir.

Relevant International Actions/Past UN Solutions

United Nations Security Council Resolution 39, January 20, 1948: Assisting the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict by setting up a three member commission (one chosen by India, the other by Pakistan and the third by the two other members of the commission)

Karachi Agreement, 1951: Established a ceasefire line to be supervised by observers

Resolution 91: established a United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to observe and report violations of ceasefire.

Simla Agreement, 1972: The agreement was the result of the resolve of both the countries to ‘put an end to the conflict and confrontation that have hitherto marred their relations’.

Issues for Delegates

Issues delegates may look to address could include:

  • What can be done to de-escalate the situation and the success or failures of previous attempts?
  • Is there any information on your country’s official or implied stance on the situation?
  • Does your country have any links or stances on the races or religions being directly affected by this situation?
  • How does the issue of nuclear weapons factor into and affect this situation?
  • How does domestic political tension drives or affects Indo-Pakistan relations?
  • Is it feasible and to what extent can the UN mediate this conflict and does your country have any special reason for wanting to be involved in or avoiding such mediation?