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Following independence and partition in 1947, mostly Muslim Pakistan and mostly Hindu India clashed frequently over their disputed border region of Kashmir. The Hindu ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, a mostly Muslim area, could not decide in 1947 whether to merge his domain with Pakistan or with India. This absence of  resolve quickly led to the first war over the region between India and Pakistan.

The following year (1948), India and Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire line that ambiguously stopped short of the remote peaks of north-central Kashmir.  The wording in the agreement said the line was to continue "north to the glaciers."  On this basis, India claimed the area for itself while Pakistan argued that the Kashmiris should have been free to decide their own future through a plebiscite (the population was mostly Muslim). Both countries maintained armies near the ceasefire line that split the territory in two.  From the Indian point of view, the language of the 1949 agreement was clear: "north to the glaciers" meant a line going slightly northwest along the natural watershed of the Saltoro peaks. The Pakistanis were equally sure: the phrasing intended the line to continue northeasterly as it did through the rest of Kashmir.  (Source:  New York Times, April 13, 1999)

Fighting in Kashmir broke out again for twenty-three days in 1965 after India charged Pakistan with sending irregular troops into Kashmir. A U.N. ceasefire ended this round of  fighting. Then, in 1989, an insurgency broke out in the Indian-administered region of Kashmir.

In May, 1999, India and Pakistan began a new round of hostilities.  Clashes occurred near Kargil in the Indian-administered sector.  By this time the contesting nations had become the world's two newest nuclear powers. 

On December 13, 2001, an attack on the Indian Parliament by Pakistani militants fighting on behalf of Kashmiri separatists resulted in the deaths of thirteen people.  India demanded that Pakistan shut down two militant Pakistani groups: Lashkar-e-Taiba ("Purity Troops") and Jaish-e-Muhammad ("Army of Muhammad"). India threatened to attack training camps run by the two groups.  Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, warned of "very serious repercussions" should India carry out its threat. 

On May 14, 2002, three members of a militant separatist group killed 35 people (among them women and children) in an Indian Army camp in Indian administered Kashmir.  On the 16th, India and Pakistan began exchanging artillery fire with one another across the line dividing Indian from Pakistani controlled Kashmir, and on the 18th India expelled the Pakistani High Commissioner.  Pakistan conducted missile tests the following week. (more)

New elections in October, 2002 ended the decades-long dominance of the Kashmiri government by the National Conference.  Power shifted to two other parties who, it was hoped, together could break the stalemate between India and Pakistan in their dispute over Kashmir. 

In late November, 2002, Islamic militants attacked two Hindu temples in Jammu killing fourteen. (Ten had been killed at one of the temples - Raghunath - in March, 2002). 

In December, 2006, Pakistan's President Musharraf suggested that if a plan for self-governance in Kashmir could be worked out, Pakistan would give up its claims to the area (New York Times, Dec. 5, 2006).


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Last Revised: December 5, 2006