3.3.3. the sides of British East India Company and

3.3.3. Kashmir’s Strategic Importance
to Pakistan

The war between Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist with some other
minority forces, which supported the aggressive British, and the Islamic authority
of the time developed erratic results for the sides. Notably, Britain faced tough
resistance of the Muslims when they invaded the peninsula in 1819. The British ultimately
managed to acquire sovereignty and stability over the region in 1846 upon 27
years of fierce fighting with Muslims. In the aftermath, Britain spread its
sovereignty to the region with ease and thus came up with the division of the
region into three parts. In about 55% of the peninsula where Muslims were in majority,
the British rule was directly administered while 565 provinces with autonomous
governance were ruled through Hindu and Muslim governors. As for the third section
of the division, which is known as Kashmir, it was sold to Hindu feudalism for
a hundred years of time in accordance with the the treaty, which is known as
Amritsar signed on March 16, 1846 between the sides of British East India
Company and Gulab Singh Dogra to legitimize the arrangements of the peace
treaty following the First Anglo-Sikh War. Accordingly, Jammu and Kashmir was
handed over to Gulab Singh in exchange of little sum of 7.5 million Rupees (some $2,250,000)
for his service at the war and fell under the domination of the Hindus on the
grounds of such agreement.1  

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The Hindu administration in Kashmir
continued to provide overt or covert support for the British rule till 1947
when the British separated the peninsula into two states according to their
population with the exception of Kashmir; India and Pakistan. However, the
Hindu ruler of Kashmir joined India without paying any concern to the wishes of
the Muslim people. It should be noted that while the British Hindu Peninsula
was divided into India and Pakistan, the
British Cabinet Mission Memorandum was sent to the executives of
the 565 Indian provinces on 12, 05,1946, calling on its people to remain
independent or accede to one of the two states for their respective provinces,
India or Pakistan that they should make their decisions.2
Yet, the provinces of Hayderabad, Srinagar and Kashmir were prevented from
participating in their respective state of Pakistan. Especially, the reason for
the prevention of Hayderabad and Srinagar from such an accession to Pakistan
was that the rulers of these provinces were Muslims although the majority of
the population was composed of Hindu. Thus, they joined India whereas the ruler
of Kashmir was Hindu, but most of the population was Muslim, they were not
allowed to join Pakistan, but India. The factor that made it possible for these
three provinces, especially Kashmir, to be annexed to India, was that the
British favored the Hindus and granted them privileges. Following such a fraud
annexation to Indian side, successive wars broke out between India, the Hindu
rulers on one front and Muslims of Kashmir, Pakistan on the other, which
concluded with the present form of Kashmir; 65% by India, 30% by Pakistan and
the remaining 5% by China.

Though generally known as a problem between Pakistan
and India, the Kashmir dispute involves China as well, yet it doesnot come to
the agenda so much as the one between Pakistan and India. Kashmir is
geographically surrounded by Afghanistan over a very small border at the
eastern end of Pakistan, China, India and Wakhan Corridor. It may even be thought
that Kashmir is adjacent to Tajikistan in the north via the narrow Wakhan
Corridor. So Pakistan, China, India, Afghanistan and Tajikistan are the
neighbors of Kashmir. In different aspects, these five countries are the
countries frequently mentioned within regional and global politics. China’s
neighborhood to Kashmir, East Turkestan (Sincan-Uyghur Autonomous Region) and
Tibet also make Kashmir both geopolitically and strategically valuable. In a
general context, Kashmir is actually composed of four parts.  North of Kashmir is controlled by Pakistan
and in the west, there stands the Azad Kashmir Islamic Republic, which is not
recognized except for Pakistan, and is under the control of Pakistan. While in
the south lies the Jammnu-Kashmir region controlled by India, in the east, the
area called Aksai China spans, which China added to its country at the end of
the war against India in 1962 and Pakistan relinquished its own hold in favor China
in 1963, thus inflaming Indian insistence on the claims of such piece of land. The
part of Kashmir controlled by China subsequent to Pakistan’s relinquisment of
the sovereignty availed Beijing to control Karakoram highway, which runs from
East Turkestan and ends in East Turkestan, thus providing the Pakistan-China
overland route.

With such a partition of Kashmir among the claimant
countries, the magnititude of the region for Pakistan is strategically
undisputable. The motives of strategic value are of various grounds ranging
from offsetting the political balance with India to acting as protectorate of
the Muslims in the region. The strong Kashmir belief mixed within Pakistani
sentimentalism and fed by the notion of prestige gained at national level fuel
the Pakistani desire to accede the Kashmir to the land of Pakistan.