THE QUESTION of Kashmir is one of the longest-running tragedies of our time—a South Asian Palestine. Three wars between India and Pakistan, several insurgencies, counterinsurgencies and a countless series of negotiations have failed to settle the political future of this beautiful, disputed Himalayan region since the creation of the states of India and Pakistan in 1947. For sixty years, these two countries have claimed all of Kashmir as their own. Blood has been spilled, thousands have died and still the people are in crisis.
The intractability of India’s and Pakistan’s competing policies was evident once again this fall, as foreign ministers parroted inflexible national positions on Kashmir at the United Nations General Assembly session. After several years of quietude, Pakistan renewed its call for a UN-mandated plebiscite, which would give Kashmiris the option of choosing between India and Pakistan as their home nation. “The Jammu and Kashmir dispute is about the exercise of the right to self-determination by the Kashmiri people through a free, fair and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices. Pakistan views the prevailing situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir with grave concern,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in his recent address. India responded by calling off any potential meeting between Indian Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart, with Krishna retorting: