The Kashmir Dispute: Stakes & Stance of Stake-holders

Shahid H. Raja
16 min readJan 19, 2024

Please remember, as per the UNO resolutions, it is KASHMIR DISPUTE, not an ISSUE or a QUESTION


Kashmir, located in the northernmost region of the Indian subcontinent, has captivated the world with its breathtaking natural beauty. Surrounded by the Himalayas, the region’s lush valleys, pristine lakes, and snow-capped mountains have earned it the moniker “paradise on earth.” However, this beauty has long become a curse for the people of Kashmir as their land became the focal point of a bitter dispute.

The Kashmir dispute is not merely a territorial conflict; it is a complex and deeply rooted issue that revolves around the will and aspirations of the people to determine their future. Often described as the “Switzerland of the East” or the “paradise on earth,” the picturesque region of Kashmir has been at the centre of a contentious and protracted dispute between India and Pakistan for decades.

Kashmir: History’s Unfinished Agenda

The roots of the Kashmir dispute can be traced back to the partition of British India in 1947. As the subcontinent was divided into India and Pakistan, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir became a contentious issue. The then-Maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu ruler of a predominantly Muslim-majority state, faced a difficult decision. Ultimately, he acceded to India, leading to protests and conflict in the region.

UN Resolutions and the Pledge of a Plebiscite

India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, pledged a plebiscite for the people of Indian-administered Kashmir, a promise that was later enshrined in a United Nations Security Council Resolution. The UN has passed 74 resolutions regarding the freedom of Kashmir, emphasizing the importance of allowing the Kashmiri people to exercise their right to self-determination through a fair and impartial plebiscite.

Three Wars and Ongoing Conflict

The Kashmir dispute has led to three full-scale wars between India and Pakistan in 1947, 1965, and 1999. These wars, along with numerous skirmishes and border tensions, have cost countless lives and resources. The Line of Control (LoC) that separates the two sides remains one of the most heavily militarized regions in the world, perpetuating a state of constant tension.

Challenges to Resolution

Despite the existence of UN resolutions and international efforts to mediate the conflict, the Kashmir issue remains unresolved due to a multitude of challenges. Resolving the Kashmir issue is a complex endeavour with numerous intertwined factors that make it one of the most challenging conflicts in the world. The complexity arises from multiple stakeholders, diverse ethnic and religious groups, the interests of various countries, the region’s geostrategic location, and its geoeconomic significance. Here’s an in-depth look at these complexities:

  1. Multiple Stakeholders inside Kashmir

Kashmir is ethnically and religiously diverse, with three primary ethnic groups — Kashmiri Muslims, Kashmiri Hindus/Sikhs, and Buddhists in the Ladakh region. These groups have distinct historical and cultural backgrounds, leading to different loyalties and perspectives on the conflict. Resolving the issue requires addressing the concerns and aspirations of each group.

2. Conflicting National Interests of Countries

India views Kashmir as an integral part of its territory and is committed to maintaining its sovereignty over the region. Its perspective is influenced by historical factors, security concerns, and its identity as a secular democratic state. The region’s geoeconomic significance has grown in recent years due to its potential as a trade route and its natural resources. India’s control of Kashmir allows it to access the waters of the many tributaries of the Indus River, which is vital for agriculture and industry.

On the other hand, Pakistan has consistently supported the right to self-determination for Kashmiris and sees itself as the advocate of the Muslim-majority population in the region. Its perspective is rooted in its historical rivalry with India and its desire for strategic depth. For Pakistan, Kashmir is not only an unfinished agenda of history but a validation of its two-theory narrative, the basis of the creation of Pakistan. At the same time it has crucial importance for its economic growth as all its rivers originate in Kashmir and provide water for the largest irrigation networks in the world. After the initiation of CPEC, its importance has increased manyfold.

At the same time, China has territorial interests in the region, particularly in Pakistan-administered Kashmir (Gilgit-Baltistan), due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China’s stance is influenced by its economic and strategic objectives in the broader region.

Countries like the United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia have varying levels of interest in the Kashmir issue due to their geopolitical concerns, alliances, and global influence. Kashmir’s location is strategically significant, as it serves as a buffer zone between India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed neighbours with a history of conflict. Control over the region can impact regional stability and security.

3. Historical Conflict and Militancy:

Decades of conflict, insurgency, and militarization have further complicated the issue. Violence has resulted in the loss of lives, human rights abuses, and deep-seated mistrust among the parties involved.

4. UN Resolutions and Legal Framework:

The Kashmir issue is complicated by the presence of United Nations resolutions, which call for a plebiscite to determine the future of the region. However, implementing these resolutions has proven challenging, as they require the consent of both India and Pakistan.

5. Indian Obduracy

India’s refusal to implement UN resolutions or engage in meaningful dialogue with Pakistan and Kashmiri representatives has been a significant roadblock to resolving the issue.

6. International Indifference

The international community, preoccupied with other global issues, has often remained indifferent to the plight of the Kashmiri people, failing to exert sufficient pressure on India to seek a peaceful resolution.

7. Pakistani Weakness and Policy Incoherence

Pakistan’s varying approaches and internal political instability have hindered its ability to effectively advocate for the Kashmiri cause on the international stage.

Consequently, achieving a lasting solution will require a nuanced approach that addresses the grievances of all parties involved, upholds human rights, and promotes regional stability and cooperation. The Kashmir dispute is not just about territorial control; it is about the fundamental principles of freedom and liberty for the people of Kashmir.

The unresolved conflict has inflicted immense suffering on the Kashmiri population and poses a constant threat to regional stability. Achieving a lasting resolution to the Kashmir dispute requires not only political will from India and Pakistan but also active engagement from the international community. Only through dialogue, diplomacy, and a genuine commitment to the aspirations of the Kashmiri people can a just and peaceful solution be reached, allowing Kashmir to once again be the paradise it was always meant to be.

Kashmir Dispute: Stakes of Various Stakeholders

There are five stakeholders in the Kashmir Dispute (not ISSUE to Question) namely Kashmiri people, Pakistan, India, China, and Global powers (UNO)

A. Pakistan’s Stand and Stakes on the Kashmir Dispute

The Pakistani government’s stance on the Kashmir dispute is firmly rooted in historical, legal, and international principles, highlighting several key points:

  1. Sovereignty of Kashmir

Pakistan asserts that at the time of the partition of British India in 1947, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was a sovereign territory in its own right. This view is supported by a statement from the British Cabinet Mission in India in 1946, which confirmed the autonomous status of princely states. Additionally, Article 7 of the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which dealt with the lapse of suzerainty of the British Crown over Indian states, reaffirmed the sovereignty of princely states like Kashmir. As a sovereign entity, Pakistan argues that the Kashmiri people had an inherent and vested right to self-determination from the moment of India’s independence.

2. Right to Self-Determination

Pakistan emphasises the principle of self-determination, which was enshrined in customary international law. The General Assembly Resolution 1514 of 1960 firmly recognized the right of colonial peoples to self-determination, a principle that Pakistan believes should apply to the people of Kashmir. Furthermore, General Assembly Resolution 2625 of 1970 reaffirmed the right to internal self-determination, which includes the right of people to choose their form of government and political leaders freely. Pakistan contends that the population of Kashmir has been consistently deprived of this right.

3. Occupation and Military Presence

Under international humanitarian law, as codified in Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations, a territory is considered occupied when it is under the actual authority of a hostile army. Pakistan points out the massive military presence in Indian-administered Kashmir, with former Pakistani official Sartaj Aziz questioning why India has stationed approximately 700,000 troops in the region if Kashmir is not considered an issue by India. This underscores Pakistan’s view that the territory remains under occupation.

4. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution

Pakistan cites the interpretation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution by the Srinagar High Court. According to this judgement, the territory of India-administered Kashmir retains an element of sovereignty and cannot be fully integrated into India. While the Modi government argues that Article 370 has been diluted over time and that India-administered Kashmir stands fully integrated into Indian territory, Pakistan maintains that these judgments are in conformity with UN resolutions and reaffirms its position that Kashmir remains an unfinished agenda of partition and an outstanding dispute.

5. Unfinished Agenda of Partition

This enduring discord can be traced back to the unfinished agenda of the dissolution of the British Indian Empire in 1947. The partition created a volatile situation where the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir found itself at the centre of a contentious issue. Maharaja Hari Singh, the Hindu ruler of a predominantly Muslim-majority state, faced a momentous decision and was forced to sign a controversial accession agreement, a move that ignited protests and conflict in the region. Pakistan does not accept this accession. The unresolved status of Kashmir reflects the complexities and challenges that arose during the division of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan, making it a symbol of historical significance for Pakistan.

6. Principled Stand on Self-Determination

Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue is grounded in the principle of self-determination to which Pakistan adheres to. It views the dispute as a matter of the Kashmiri people’s right to choose their own destiny, aligning with Pakistan’s commitment to justice, fairness, and the fundamental right of people to determine their political future.

7. Validation of Two-Nation Theory

For Pakistan, the resolution of the Kashmir dispute holds a profound significance in validating the Two-Nation Theory. This theory was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s creation, advocating that Muslim-majority regions in British India, contiguous to other Muslim-majority areas, and where the majority of Muslims desired to join Pakistan, should indeed become part of Pakistan. Accepting any alternative formula would negate the very foundation upon which Pakistan was established. The resolution of the Kashmir issue in Pakistan’s favour would affirm the validity of this foundational ideology.

8. Commitments to Kashmiri People

Pakistan maintains that we must honour the commitments made to the Kashmiri people by Pakistan as well as the world community, of giving them their inalienable right of self-determination. Pakistan’s commitment to the people of Kashmir is enshrined in its consistent support for their right to self-determination. This commitment extends beyond political considerations to encompass humanitarian and moral obligations to the Kashmiri population, who have endured the impact of the longstanding conflict. The global community’s commitment to resolving the Kashmir issue cannot be understated. The United Nations has passed 74 resolutions concerning the freedom of Kashmir, underlining the imperative of enabling the Kashmiri people to exercise their right to self-determination through a just and unbiased plebiscite.

9. Economic Survival and Prosperity

Beyond its political implications, Pakistan’s economic well-being is intricately linked to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The three major rivers originating from the Kashmir region not only provide essential water for our agriculture but also generate electricity vital for our nation. Additionally, the Kashmiri diaspora plays a pivotal role as a major source of remittances and as consumers of Pakistani exports, contributing significantly to our economic prosperity.

10. External Security and Defence

Pakistan’s security interests are closely linked to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The region not only contributes significantly to Pakistan’s armed forces but also serves as a strategic link with China. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a cornerstone of Pakistan’s external security and economic growth, relies on the stability of the Kashmir region. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not just an economic lifeline for Pakistan but also a critical pillar of our security, reinforcing the importance of a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir dispute as it guarantees our national security.

11. Domestic Politics

The amicable resolution of the Kashmir dispute carries significant domestic socio-political and economic implications for Pakistan. A considerable number of individuals with roots in Kashmir are actively engaged in various facets of Pakistan’s political landscape, civil-military bureaucracy, and economic sectors. Their influence surpasses their numerical representation due to their substantial presence within these key state institutions. The Kashmir dispute is a subject of national consensus, with political parties across the spectrum supporting Pakistan’s position on Kashmir. The issue often shapes political discourse, elections, and public sentiment, influencing the direction of Pakistan’s political landscape.


In summary, Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir dispute is rooted in historical documents, international law, and legal interpretations that support the rights of the Kashmiri people to determine their destiny. Pakistan asserts that the presence of a large Indian military contingent, coupled with legal judgments, underscores the unresolved nature of the Kashmir issue and the need for a peaceful resolution by the principles of self-determination and international law.

Pakistan’s stakes in achieving an amicable resolution to the Kashmir dispute extend far beyond territorial concerns. They encompass our principles, historical narratives, international commitments, economic sustainability, and national security. As we navigate the complex landscape of this dispute, we must remain steadfast in our pursuit of a just and peaceful resolution, recognizing its multifaceted significance to our nation.

B. Indian Stakes and Stand in Kashmir Dispute

The Indian stance on the Kashmir issue is characterised by its assertion that Kashmir is an integral part of India. This stance is based on historical claims, legal agreements, and India’s perspective on the region’s status. There are two key aspects to India’s stance on Kashmir:

  1. Legally Binding Accession Instrument

India bases its claim over Kashmir on the instrument of accession signed by Hari Singh in 1947. It maintains that this accession was in line with the partition plan, which granted princely state rulers the authority to determine their fate. India has consistently maintained that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian Union. This claim is based on historical factors, including the accession of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir to India in 1947, when Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of the state, signed the Instrument of Accession.

India asserts that this accession was legitimate and by the provisions of the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which allowed princely states to choose between India and Pakistan. The Indian government points to the fact that Jammu and Kashmir has its constitution, which further reflects its special status within the Indian Union.

2. Shimla Agreement and the Call for Bilateral Resolution:

The Shimla Agreement, signed in 1972 between India and Pakistan after the 1971 war, aimed to establish peaceful relations between the two countries. Under this agreement, both nations committed to resolving all outstanding disputes, including the Kashmir issue, through bilateral negotiations.

India often references the Shimla Agreement to emphasise the importance of resolving the Kashmir dispute through direct talks between the two countries. India argues that this bilateral approach supersedes any other international mediation or involvement.

India’s stance on Kashmir, therefore, presents a paradox. While it asserts that Kashmir is an integral part of its territory, it has also agreed, under the Shimla Agreement, to work towards a final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue through negotiations with Pakistan. This duality underscores India’s desire to maintain its sovereignty over the region while simultaneously pursuing diplomatic solutions to address the longstanding dispute.

It is essential to note that the Kashmir issue remains a highly sensitive and complex matter, with both India and Pakistan holding deeply entrenched positions. The conflict has caused significant tension, violence, and human suffering over the years, and finding a peaceful and mutually acceptable resolution remains a formidable challenge.

3. Validation of One-nation Theory

During the freedom struggle, Congress rested its case on one Indian nation irrespective of their religious affiliations as opposed to the Muslim League’s Two-nation Theory. Kashmir remaining in India would validate their narrative

4. Changed Objective Realities

India’s position also takes into account the changed objective realities since the early days of the conflict. Initially, India had agreed to a plebiscite with the UN to determine the fate of Kashmir. However, India has been altering its stance from time to time citing 1. 1954: Pakistan has joined the Western Camp 2. 1972: Shimla Agreement has closed the case 3. 1990s: Frequent elections are plebiscite 4. 2019: India has abrogated Kashmir’s special status

5. Indian Integrity and Fear of Centrifugal Forces

India views Kashmir as an integral part of its union, and any concession on Kashmir’s status could have far-reaching implications for its multi-ethnic and diverse nation. India fears its balkanization.

6. Economic Prosperity

Similar to Pakistan, India’s stakes in Kashmir extend to its economic interests. Three major rivers originating in the region provide essential water for irrigation and power generation while the Kashmiri diaspora contributes through remittances and trade

7. Domestic Politics

Domestically, any settlement that diverges from the wishes of the Indian people could be politically contentious; anyone committing to a plebiscite would be committing political harakiri, risking accusations of betrayal

8. Regional Hegemony/ Global Ambitions

India, perceiving itself as the rightful successor to the British Indian Empire, sees itself as the primary arbiter of regional issues. Accepting international mediation would undermine its prestige as a regional power/emerging global player.

C. China’s Stakes and Stance on Kashmir Dispute

China’s multifaceted interests in the Kashmir dispute reflect a combination of historical claims, strategic partnerships, economic considerations, and a broader geopolitical agenda. Each aspect contributes to shaping China’s stance on this longstanding issue.

  1. Territorial Claims and Aksai Chin:

China’s territorial claim over Aksai Chin is a critical factor in its involvement in the Kashmir dispute. Aksai Chin holds significant strategic value for China, as it provides a direct land route between Tibet and Xinjiang. Any resolution of the Kashmir conflict will directly impact the disputed borders in this region, influencing China’s territorial control and strategic access.

2. Support for Pakistan:

China’s support for Pakistan is deeply rooted in strategic considerations. Pakistan is viewed as a crucial ally in the region, and China has consistently endorsed its calls for a peaceful resolution based on UN resolutions and the principle of self-determination for Kashmir. This alliance strengthens China’s geopolitical position and counterbalances India’s influence.

3. Opposition to India’s Control of Ladakh:

China’s claim on parts of Ladakh aligns with its territorial concerns. The abrogation of Article 370 by India in 2019, which led to the bifurcation of the region into two union territories, including Ladakh, has raised objections from China. This opposition reflects not only territorial interests but also geopolitical manoeuvring in the region.

4. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC:

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a vital component of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The route passes through Gilgit-Baltistan, an area contested in the Kashmir dispute. China’s stake in the Kashmir issue is intricately linked to the security and stability of CPEC, as any unrest in the region could jeopardise this flagship project.

5. Avoiding Escalation:

China, as a responsible global actor, is keen on preventing any escalation of tensions in the region. Given the nuclear capabilities of India and Pakistan, China advocates for dialogue and a peaceful resolution to avoid conflict that could disrupt regional stability and have far-reaching consequences.

6. International Prestige and Influence:

By involving itself in the Kashmir dispute, China aims to assert its influence on the global stage. Positioning itself as a key mediator and stakeholder in South Asian geopolitics enhances China’s role in shaping international narratives and reinforces its claim as a major player in global affairs.

7. Security and Stability:

Beyond its immediate interests, China prioritises regional security and stability. It seeks to avoid any conflict or instability near its borders, as repercussions could spill over into neighbouring Chinese regions. Proactive engagement in the Kashmir issue is a reflection of China’s commitment to maintaining a secure and stable environment in its proximity.

In summary, China’s involvement in the Kashmir dispute is a complex interplay of territorial, strategic, economic, and geopolitical considerations, reflecting its role as a major player in shaping the dynamics of South Asian politics.

Suggestions for Solving the Kashmir Dispute

The Kashmir dispute has been a longstanding and complex issue, and finding a viable solution requires careful consideration and diplomatic efforts. Here are some potential solutions and considerations for resolving the Kashmir dispute:

  1. Back Channel Diplomacy:

Back-channel diplomacy has shown promise in the past. The understanding reached between India and Pakistan during the 2004–2007 negotiations, which included elements such as demilitarization, self-governance, joint control, avoiding border redraw, and making the Line of Control (LoC) irrelevant, could serve as a foundation for future negotiations. These elements aim to address the core concerns of both sides while providing autonomy to the people of Kashmir.

2. Comparing Scotland and Kashmir:

Drawing a comparison between the situation in Scotland and Kashmir can be enlightening. While Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom, it has a significant degree of autonomy through its devolved government. Similarly, Kashmir could opt for a model of self-governance with loose borders, allowing for social and trade contacts on both sides. This approach could help transform the region into a bridge for cooperation between India and Pakistan rather than a source of conflict.

3. International Mediation:

Given the complexity of the Kashmir issue, international mediation could be considered. The United Nations or other international organizations could play a role in facilitating dialogue and ensuring that any negotiated settlement respects the rights and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

4. Sustainable Independence:

While independence for Kashmir is one possible solution, it comes with significant challenges, particularly as a landlocked state surrounded by powerful regional players like India, Pakistan, and China. Sustainable independence would require careful planning and international support to ensure economic viability and security.

5. People’s Perspectives:

Understanding the perspectives of the people living in different parts of Kashmir is crucial. Initiatives like Christopher Snedden’s work on the people of Azad Kashmir shed light on the diversity of views within the region and can inform future negotiations.

6. Soft Power and Trade Agreements:

The European Union (EU) and other international actors can use their soft power to encourage dialogue and peace-building efforts. Leveraging trade agreements with India to promote human rights and conflict resolution could be an effective means of influence.

7. Addressing Terrorism Allegations:

While addressing legitimate concerns about terrorism is essential, it is also important to ensure that efforts to combat terrorism do not impede the resolution of the broader Kashmir dispute. Clear differentiation between terrorism and the legitimate political aspirations of the Kashmiri people is crucial.


The Kashmir dispute is not just about territorial control; it is about the fundamental principles of freedom and liberty for the people of Kashmir. The unresolved conflict has inflicted immense suffering on the Kashmiri population and poses a constant threat to regional stability. Achieving a lasting resolution to the Kashmir dispute requires not only political will from India and Pakistan but also active engagement from the international community.

The Kashmir dispute requires a multifaceted approach that takes into account the interests and aspirations of all stakeholders. Back channel diplomacy, international mediation, and creative solutions that promote autonomy and cooperation are essential components of a potential resolution. The key lies in sustained dialogue, empathy, and a commitment to finding a peaceful and just solution that respects the rights and dignity of the Kashmiri people.

From the eBook “Pakistan Affairs: 25 Essays”, published by Amazon and available at