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India and Pakistan fought 3 wars over Kashmir – here’s why international law and US help can’t solve this territorial dispute

The scene in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir, after an Aug. 10, 2021, grenade attack by militants that wounded at least nine civilians. Kashmir has experienced sporadic violence for more than seven decades, including three wars. Yawar Nazir/Getty Images

India and Pakistan fought 3 wars over Kashmir – here’s why international law and US help can’t solve this territorial dispute

The scene in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir, after an Aug. 10, 2021, grenade attack by militants that wounded at least nine civilians. Kashmir has experienced sporadic violence for more than seven decades, including three wars. Yawar Nazir/Getty Images

India and Pakistan fought 3 wars over Kashmir – here’s why international law and US help can’t solve this territorial dispute

The scene in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir, after an Aug. 10, 2021, grenade attack by militants that wounded at least nine civilians. Kashmir has experienced sporadic violence for more than seven decades, including three wars. Yawar Nazir/Getty Images

India and Pakistan fought 3 wars over Kashmir – here’s why international law and US help can’t solve this territorial dispute

The scene in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir, after an Aug. 10, 2021, grenade attack by militants that wounded at least nine civilians. Kashmir has experienced sporadic violence for more than seven decades, including three wars. Yawar Nazir/Getty Images

Kashmir, an 85,806-square-mile valley between the snowcapped Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges, is a contested region between India, Pakistan and China. Both India and Pakistan lay claim to all of Kashmir, but each administers only part of it.

The scene in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir, after an Aug. 10, 2021, grenade attack by militants that wounded at least nine civilians. Kashmir has experienced sporadic violence for more than seven decades, including three wars. Yawar Nazir/Getty Images

Bulbul Ahmed, Bangladesh University of Professionals

An armed conflict in Kashmir has thwarted all attempts to solve it for three quarters of a century.

Kashmir, an 85,806-square-mile valley between the snowcapped Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges, is a contested region between India, Pakistan and China. Both India and Pakistan lay claim to all of Kashmir, but each administers only part of it.

Map of Kashmir.

Map of Kashmir. Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, 2002, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

During the British rule of India, Kashmir was a feudal state with its own regional ruler. In 1947, the Kashmiri ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, agreed that his kingdom would join India under certain conditions. Kashmir would retain political and economic sovereignty, while its defense and external affairs would be dealt with by India.

But Pakistan, newly created by the British, laid claim to a majority-Muslim part of Kashmir along its border. India and Pakistan fought the first of three major wars over Kashmir in 1947. It resulted in the creation of a United Nations-brokered “ceasefire line” that divided Indian and Pakistani territory. The line went right through Kashmir.

Despite the establishment of that border, presently known as the “Line of Control,” two more wars over Kashmir followed, in 1965 and 1999. An estimated 20,000 people died in these three wars.

International law, a set of rules and regulations created after World War II to govern all the world’s nation-states, is supposed to resolve territorial disputes like Kashmir. Such disputes are mainly dealt with by the International Court of Justice, a United Nations tribunal that rules on contested borders and war crimes.

Yet international law has repeatedly failed to resolve the Kashmir conflict, as my research on Kashmir and international law shows.

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