Welcome back to my blog. You may have seen that in this week’s economist, the main story was on “The war the world ignores”-Yemen. Having read this article, I thought I would base this week’s post on the issue of conflict and explore some of the other wars that are not widely understood or discussed especially in the media today. Currently the news seems to be flooded with stories about Trump or his North Korean counterpart or the issues with the Brexit bill and the negotiations. Although we have seen the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Rohingya muslims in Burma in the media recently, we seem to have stopped following one of the biggest, oldest and on going territorial disputes the world has ever seen-Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan. This post will give an overview of the history between the two countries, and consider some of the possible solutions. You might be wondering how at the outset this relates to economics. The answer is that this is directly related to economics. For example such conflicts determine trade, migration, confidence in the economy, sovereignty, foreign investment and social welfare. Furthermore, funding such conflicts has an opportunity cost involved; that is, the money spent on financing this cannot be spent in areas such as education or health which are under severe pressure especialy by India’s 1.3 bn plus population. It is important to remember that Economics does not just look at topical issues in the news or outline how the economy is performing by using mathematical models. Instead the subject is all encompassing and for that reason many economists have different views about its definition. The most interesting definition that I have come across about economics is that “economics is what economists do”-Jacob Viner. It is not possible to give any fixed definition about this social science and even if it is defined, it is only temporary.
Area of dispute:
- Some of the biggest geopolitical events in the world are centred on disputed territories-land whose sovereignty is claimed by more than one nation. The list of territorial disputes is long and ever changing/dynamic. There are now more than 150 disputes under way that involve territory, mostly in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific region, but also in Europe and the Americas. Some disputes are on the distant horizon (Antarctica) some are long simmering (Jammu and Kashmir), and others like Syria are at their boiling point.
- Kashmir, officially referred to as Jammu and Kashmir, is an 86,000-square-mile region (about the size of Idaho) in Northwest India and Northeast Pakistan. The region has been violently disputed by India and Pakistan since their 1947 partition, which created Pakistan as the Muslim counterpart to Hindu-majority India.
Reasons for the dispute to the territorial integrity:
- When India and Pakistan became separate and independent nations in August of 1947, theoretically they were divided along religious lines. In the Partition of India, Hindus were supposed to live in India, while Muslims lived in Pakistan. However, the horrific ethnic cleansing that followed proved that it was impossible to simply draw a line on the map between followers of the two faiths – they had been living in mixed communities for centuries.
- For the past 60 years, this mountainous region, often described as a legacy of British colonialism has provided the stage for some extremely tense moments between India and Pakistan, with some claiming that it’s “one of the most dangerous and prolonged disputes in the world, which in the worst-case scenario could trigger a nuclear conflict.” Currently Kashmir is administered by India and claimed by Pakistan and a heavily militarized, 450-mile-long Line of Control has long turned Indian and Pakistani forces against each other in this contested Himalayan region.
- After the partition of India in 1947, because of its location and under the partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act, Kashmir was free to accede to India or Pakistan. Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir at the time, was Hindu while most of his subjects were Muslim, thus he was unable to decide which nation Kashmir should join. In the end he chose to remain neutral and declared Jammu and Kashmir’s independence as a separate nation in 1947; however, Pakistan immediately launched a guerrilla war to free the majority-Muslim region from Hindu rule. The Maharaja then appealed to India for aid, signing an agreement to accede to India in October of 1947, and Indian troops cleared the Pakistani guerrillas from much of the area. The newly formed United Nations intervened in the conflict in 1948, organizing a cease-fire and calling for a referendum of Kashmir’s people in order to determine whether the majority wished to join with Pakistan or India. Although, that vote to date has never actually been taken and the Kashmir dispute still remains on the United Nations Security Council’s agenda.
- Since 1948, Pakistan and India have fought two additional wars over Jammu and Kashmir, in 1965 and in 1999. The region remains divided and claimed by both nations; Pakistan controls the northern and western one-third of the territory, while India has control of the southern area.
- Islamabad (capital of Pakistan) has always maintained that majority-Muslim Kashmir should have been a part of Pakistan. India claims that Pakistan lends support to separatist groups fighting against government control and argues that a 1972 agreement, signed after the Bangladesh war, mandates a resolution to the Kashmir dispute through bilateral talks.
- India and Pakistan did indeed agree a ceasefire in 2003 after years of bloodshed along the existing border (formally known as the Line of Control). Pakistan later promised to stop funding insurgents in the territory while India offered them an amnesty if they renounced militancy. Then, in 2014, a new Indian government came to power promising a tougher line on Pakistan.
- Many people in the territory do not want it to be governed by India, preferring instead either independence or union with Pakistan. The population of the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir is more than 60% Muslim, making it the only state within India where Muslims are in the majority. High unemployment and complaints of heavy-handed tactics by security forces battling street protesters and fighting insurgents have aggravated the problem.
- Relocation and support for the poorest and most vulnerable from both sides. In November, 2016 – Raja Farooq Haider, the prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the Pakistani-controlled part of the disputed region, said the government has so far moved 8,000 people to “safer places” in the wake of on-going “Indian shelling,” and plans are being made to move even more people.In October 2016 India relocated more than 10,000 people from around the disputed border area of Kashmir as tensions continued to escalate with Pakistan.
- China and India both also claim a Tibetan enclave in the east of Jammu and Kashmir called Aksai Chin; they fought a war in 1962 over the area, but have since signed agreements to enforce the current “Line of Actual Control.”
- Further ceasefires/treaties. However the UN has already tried this and has been unsuccessful.
- Carry out the referendum that was suggested by the UN to see what the people want. Although India is reluctant to do this.
- Make a formal boundary-the half that is already occupied by India could be assigned to them and the rest of the area could go to Pakistan. However this is unlikely to hold and each country will almost inevitably encroach further. It is also easier said than done and may even lead to further ethic tensions and just like the partition in 1947-similar consequences may arise e.g. difficult to draw a boundary between villages/towns.
- Others suggest that there is no viable solution and that this battle based purely on religious differences. It is clear that neither country wants Kashmir to become an independent nation, and the future of this long-disputed region is still blurred. Since India, Pakistan, and China all possess nuclear weapons; any hot war over Jammu and Kashmir could have devastating results.