Monday, August 5, 2019

Kashmir; what is going on?

I wanted to give a brief overview of Kashmir, to help readers who may be confused as to what is going on. To that end I've created the following map to help sort out the situation:

Note that some terms are terms I've invented to help simplify discussion such as "North Kashmir" or "Kashmir Proper". Others, such as Ladakh or Azad Kashmir, are terms officially and widely used.

As you can see from the map, no one country controls Kashmir. India and Pakistan have had control over parts of it since the division of the British Raj into India and Pakistan. China has also managed to gain control over sparsely populated areas. While Pakistan recognizes the Chinese annexations, India does not. All three countries have laws requiring that maps produced in the country must show the claimed borders in the area, and not the actual de-facto line of control. I will go over some of these regions:

Azad Kashmir has 4.5 million people, most of whom are descendants of those who settled in the area during the turmoils of the 1940s (population transfers) and forms the core of Pakistani Kashmir.

North Kashmir has a population of roughly 2 million, and serves as an important transportation connection between Pakistan and China for trade. It is the only predominantly Shia part of Pakistan.

Ladakh has roughly 250,000 people who are a mix of Shia Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists. Buddhism has strong roots here and plays a role in the local culture.

Jammu has a population of 5.5 million, many of whom are descendants of those who settled in the area during the turmoils of the 1940s (population transfers) and forms the core of Indian Hindu Kashmir.

Kashmir Proper has a population of 7 million and is overwhelmingly Muslim. It is the core of the former Princely State, and is the only area of Kashmir where the Kashmiri language is in the majority.

Lastly are the Chinese controlled areas of the Trans Karakoram Tract in the north, and Aksai Chin in the south. Both have scant details on demographics online, but what little information there is, indicates the majority of those 'living' there are likely stationed there with the military. Any civilian population would be minimal, being a few thousand at absolute most.


What has happened today to cause all of the ruckus?

Up until now, the entire Indian controlled area was part of the "State of Jammu and Kashmir". It was a state with special status protected by Article 370 of the Constitution, which was established in 1954. That article, as of today, has been repealed.

As a result, Ladakh is going to become a Territory, while the remainder, still being called Jammu and Kashmir, also becoming its own territory. Ladakh will not have a legislature, while Jammu and Kashmir will.

As in Canada and Australia, Territories do not have the same protections and rights that Provinces and States do.

As such, the move, to revoke the article, is controversial, and seen as a way to weaken Kashmir and its Muslim inhabitants. The fact that many army units are reportedly moving into the area help reinforce this view.

I will be keeping an eye on the situation, and will provide updates in the coming days.

No comments:

Post a Comment