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Kashmir ( Devanagari : कश्मीर , Urdu : کشمیر, Kaśmīr , also Kashmir ) is a disputed region in the Himalayas between India , Pakistan and the People's Republic of China .


The former Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (until 2019)

Today, Kashmir, located in the Himalayas, is divided into the Indian Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh with a total of 101,000 km² and 12.5 million inhabitants, the Pakistani region of Gilgit-Baltistan and the semi-autonomous Pakistani Asad Kashmir with a total of 84,000 km² and approx. 5 million inhabitants as well as some Chinese areas (including Aksai Chin with 37,000 km² and a few thousand inhabitants).

The Kashmir Valley lies at the same latitude as Syrian Damascus , Moroccan Fez and US South Carolina at an altitude of 1700 m above sea level. It is about 135 km long and 30 to 40 km wide.

The total area of ​​Kashmir amounts to around 222,000 km². The Indian part is divided into the union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir with two divisions Jammu and Kashmir with a total of 20 districts.


The region lies on a 200 km wide fracture zone between the Indian and Eurasian continental plates .


Flag of the Maharaja until 1936
Coat of arms of the princely state
Kashmir Post stamp (1869)

Kashmir has its origins in the Kashmir Valley with the old trading center Srinagar in the high mountains of the Front Himalayas. In its long and eventful history, it has developed as a crossroads of large caravan routes (historical Silk Road ) between the Middle East, Central and South Asia. At the same time, it was and is still today the intersection of extensive Buddhist, Kashmiri-Hindu and, from the 13th century, increasingly Islamic domains. From time immemorial, cashmere has served as a bridge and node between the Middle East , Central and South Asia .

In 1587 Kashmir was annexed by Akbar I to the Empire of the Mughals of Delhi and in 1739 it was conquered by Nader Shah . Kashmir remained a province of the Empire of Kabul until 1809 when the governor Muhammad Azim Khan declared himself independent. In 1819 the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh occupied the capital Srinagar and large parts of the country.

After the British victory over the Sikhs in the First Sikh War , Kashmir and Jammu (sometimes called Jammu and Kashmir ) became a British protectorate as a princely state in 1846 . The first Maharaja was the Raja of Jammu , Ghulab Singh, a Hindu from the Rajput clan of the Jamwal in 1846-1856.

In 1941, Kashmir had an area of ​​218,896 km² and a population of 4.2 million. However, the tribal areas in the north were only nominally under the sovereignty of the Maharaja. Overall, the north of Kashmir was dominated by Muslims , the south Hindu and the east Buddhist . A power-political imbalance prevailed, however, because high positions and public offices were almost exclusively occupied by Dogra-Hindus from Jammu. Protest movements by Muslims, such as in 1930 against the authoritarian rule of the Maharajas, were suppressed with increasing frequency and mostly in a bloody way. When Great Britain decided on July 18, 1947, India's independence and the formation of the Dominions India and Pakistan, Kashmir was first independent under Maharaja Hari Singh (1925-1952).

Kashmir and Jammu had a state post with its own postage stamps from 1866 to 1894, and from 1867 to 1877 with separate issues for the provinces of Kashmir and Jammu. The princely state of Punch also had its own post from 1876–1894.

Kashmir conflict

Territory claims in Kashmir:
Under Indian control (State of Jammu and Kashmir ) Under Pakistani control ( Asad Kashmir ) Under Pakistani control ( Gilgit-Baltistan ) Under Chinese control ( Aksai Chin ) Shaksgam Valley (ceded by Pakistan to China, not recognized by India)

The cause of the current tension in Kashmir is due on the one hand to the conquest of the Sikhs of Punjab (India) in 1819 , which united Muslim Kashmir with the Hindu Jammu, and on the other hand to the process of partitioning British India in 1947, which resulted in the states of Pakistan and India had been founded. The division into the Muslim-dominated Pakistan (including East Pakistan, today's Bangladesh ) and into the Hindu-influenced Indian Union according to the Mountbatten Plan followed the so-called " two-nation theory ".

According to this, those districts of British India with a Muslim majority according to the last available census of 1941 were to be assigned to Pakistan. In the opposite case, Muslim minority areas should remain in the Indian Union. This criterion did not apply to the semi-autonomous princely states and therefore not to Kashmir either. The corresponding British law ( Indian Independence Act of 1947 ) stated that the rulers of the princely states had the freedom to decide whether to join India or Pakistan (or remain independent).

After the partition of British India , Kashmir initially remained independent, but soon became a region of military conflict. The then Maharajah Hari Singh tried to maintain sovereignty by delaying the decision to join the Pakistani or Indian side. After the invasion of supported by Pakistan Pashtun tribal militias and the ongoing rebellion against his rule (particularly in the district Punch) the ruler India asked for military assistance. In order to receive this, he declared on October 26, 1947, that his princely state would join the Indian Union. Within a few days, India moved massive troops to the crisis region to counter insurgents and infiltrated fighters. Pakistan did not accept joining India. In addition, the religious conflict between Hindus and Muslims, which was already smoldering in the colonial period, was increasingly transferred to the level of state policy, which made it increasingly explosive, even though the majority of the inhabitants of Kashmir had a moderate religious attitude. The escalation ultimately led to the First Indo-Pakistani War , which ended in 1949 with the de facto division of Kashmir under the mediation of the United Nations . Since then, the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir existed in the south until 2019 (about two thirds of the territory, was divided into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in 2019 ), while the north with Asad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan - until 2009: Northern Areas (northern areas ) - is under Pakistani administration. The border line between the Pakistani and Indian parts forms the armistice line (" Line of Control ") of 1949. It is about 750 km long and is under the mandate of the United Nations.

The referendum called for by the United Nations Security Council in April 1948 on Kashmir's accession to India or Pakistan has not yet taken place. India and Pakistan cite the following reasons:

  • Accession to India is permissible because it conforms to the law. Pakistan objects that the Maharaja was no longer in power at the time, as civil war was raging and insurgents from the Punch region had already proclaimed their own republic, Azad Kashmir.
  • The constituent assembly of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, elected by the citizens, had unanimously confirmed the contract for the Maharaja's inauguration (in 1954). In 1957, the assembly passed a constitution for the state that stipulated permanent affiliation with India. A special status was given to Jammu & Kashmir in the Indian constitution (Article 370) to protect its special interests. Pakistan denies the legitimacy of the elections as they took place under the illegitimate circumstances of the Indian occupation and not the entire population of Kashmir took part.
  • The first article of the United Nations resolution states that Pakistan must immediately evacuate the areas that it had occupied in 1948 with the help of the so-called tribals (local tribal groups) and the army. Pakistan never evacuated those areas. Instead, Pakistan has integrated a very large part of the occupied province ("northern areas") into its territory. Pakistan objects that India is not a neutral regulatory power, as envisaged in the resolution, but that it would use a withdrawal of Pakistani troops to its advantage and annex all of Kashmir.
  • The UN resolution states that India and Pakistan must shape the fate of Kashmir according to the wishes of the people of Kashmir. In several democratic elections to the regional parliament of Jammu & Kashmir (comparable to the state parliaments in Germany), the local population has declared that they belong to India. Pakistan objects that the elections did not take place in undivided Kashmir, but only in the Indian-controlled part, where the Indian army silenced opponents of the system. In addition, over 90% of the pro-Indian candidates ran unopposed in the first elections because the opposition boycotted the elections. The referendum stipulated in the UN resolution never took place and India was also not interested in it.
  • Pakistan trains and sends freedom fighters to the Indian part of Kashmir. Many of these freedom fighters are Pakistani and even Afghan citizens and are waging a war against India.

Pakistan primarily claims a Muslim nationalism and derives from this the claim to sovereignty for a country with a 77% Muslim population:

  • Associated with this is the connection of Kashmir to Pakistan and unrestricted control over the Upper Indus (Jammu and Kashmir) and its tributaries for irrigating the central plains of Pakistan. India and the responsible border commission also cited economic reasons for Kashmir's accession to the Indian Union in 1947.
  • The Indian army also violates the human rights of Kashmiri residents and does not shy away from torture and murder of uninvolved residents.
  • As a result, the people of Kashmir would have had to resort to armed struggle against the illegitimate Indian occupation.

From the Indian point of view, the main priority is to avoid a precedent for a detachment from the state association of India and to secure the traffic routes into the high valley of Kashmir. The governing principle of secular nationalism, i.e. the independence of the government from religions, should apply to all of Kashmir and thus also to the Muslim-dominated areas. India therefore sees no need for discussion on the Kashmir issue.

From a Pakistani point of view, the Kashmir issue sets a precedent for the country's role as the self-proclaimed “homeland of Indian Muslims”. By annexing Kashmir, India is trying to question this claim and thus the entire founding concept of the Pakistani state. Seen in this way, the Kashmir conflict represents an important identifying point of reference for the Pakistani state, which wants to legitimize itself against system critics via a common enemy.

In addition to India and Pakistan, the People's Republic of China is a third party indirectly involved in the Kashmir conflict. After the violent occupation of the Aksai-Chin plateau in eastern Kashmir by Chinese troops (1956 and 1962), India increasingly moved closer to the Soviet Union . Due to the aligned interests against India, Pakistan became an ally of China. In 1963 it ceded a narrow strip around the K2 summit region to China. This area, which was once part of China, has been controlled by Pakistan since the British colonial era. In return, Pakistan received Chinese aid to build the Karakoram Highway .

The area of Aksai Chin was an autonomous principality until 1956, which was based on the policy of the Maharajas of Kashmir. The Chinese saw the occupation as the recapture of an area illegally occupied by British India in 1846. They also planned a road from western Tibet through Aksai Chin to China, which was also built from 1958.

Both the Indian and Pakistani governments, both internationally and in South Asia, claim to be the legitimate representatives of Kashmiri interests. While the Indian side propagates a multicultural state that tolerates minorities, but does not accept any attempts at separation from the individual states, Pakistan claims to represent all South Asian Muslims in one (Pakistani) state, since their interests are ultimately not secured in a minority situation under Indian administration be. Multiculturalism is only the external rhetoric of an implicit politics of paternalism and disadvantage.

As early as 1947, however, another option became apparent. Kashmiri nationalists called for the establishment of a landlocked state, Kashmir, independent of India and Pakistan, which should ideally consist of the Pakistani-controlled Asad Kashmir and the Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir. This variant of the solution is still rejected today not only by India and Pakistan for strategic, economic and socio-cultural considerations, but also by a majority of the Kashmiri population, who demand an independent Muslim state of Kashmir.

Pakistan called for a solution to the Kashmir issue on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions and the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people, especially Muslims.

In 1965 the second Indo-Pakistani War broke out over the region . In 1999 the Kargil War broke out due to the penetration of Pakistani-backed armed forces into the Kargil region .

In the course of the détente that began at the end of 2003, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf proposed a complete withdrawal of troops (of the Indian and Pakistani military ) from the disputed Himalayan region. India rejects this with reference to the unstable, complex security situation and because of the danger of extremists infiltrating from Pakistan. The central point of contention between the two countries, according to which they both lay sole claim to all of Kashmir, has been excluded from the rapprochement process so far.

Brief overview

  • circa 250 BC Chr .: Ashoka occupies Kashmir and introduces Buddhism
  • around 530: Hunas (probably the Alchon ) under Mihirakula , Buddhist persecution in Kashmir
  • circa 625–855: Karkota dynasty : State formation and far-reaching political and cultural influence of Kashmir
  • circa 725–754: King Lalitaditya , the conqueror
  • 855–939: Kashmir flourished again under the Utpala dynasty
  • circa 950–1003: Queen Didda from Lohara
  • 1003–1171: Lohara dynasty
  • 1101: Overthrow of King Harsha (ruled 1089–1101) - as a result, the kingship forfeited in favor of the landed gentry
  • 12th and 13th centuries: slow advance of Islam
  • 1339: Shah Mir, a Muslim adventurer and ex-minister, forced the last Hindu queen, Kota Devi, to marry and then killed her
  • 1389–1413: Sultan Sikandar Shah , coercive measures against Hindus
  • 1585 and 1586: the Mughal emperor Akbar I annexed Kashmir to his state, repeated visits by the Mughal emperors
  • 1846: Kashmir becomes part of British India after the First Sikh War under Maharaja Ghulam Singh
  • 1947: Great Britain releases British India into independence under the Mountbatten Plan , according to which around 8.4 million people flee or are resettled between the two states of India and Pakistan, over 1 million people die in pogroms and on the run, Pakistani irregulars seep into Kashmir a, Maharaja Hari Singh declares the annexation of Kashmir to India and calls Indian troops into the country, First Indo-Pakistani War
  • 1949: Armistice, establishment of the armistice line ("Line of Control"), division of Kashmir (2-nation theory), demand for a referendum on a separate state of Kashmir by the United Nations
  • 1956: Deposition of all Indian princes
  • 1957: Jammu and Kashmir becomes a state of India
  • 1960: Indus water treaty between Pakistan and India on the use of the rivers that flow into the Indus valley
  • 1962: Indo-Chinese border war , China occupies Aksai Chin (eastern part of the Indian region of Ladakh )
  • 1965: Pakistan attacks Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Second Indo-Pakistani War and armistice
  • 1966: Peace of Tashkent and official recognition of the "Line of Control"
  • 1971 and 1972: Third Indo-Pakistani War , defeat of Pakistan, loss of East Pakistan and establishment of the new state of Bangladesh
  • 1974: Deposition of the last mir (prince) of Azad Kashmir and annexation of the area to Pakistan
  • 1984: Beginning of the fighting on the Siachen Glacier between Pakistan and India for the Indian-controlled access to the valley of Leh
  • 1986 and 1987: China and India pull together troops in the Ladakh border area, first attacks by Muslim extremists on Indian institutions demanding an autonomous Kashmiri state or joining Pakistan
  • 1988: Shiite revolt in Gilgit
  • 1990: Terror in the Kashmir Valley reaches its climax, more than 100,000 Hindus flee the valley to Jammu; India and Pakistan strengthen their troops at the borders, murder of the highest religious Muslim leader (Mirwait Mohammed Farooq) by the 'Hizbul Mujahideen' terrorist Mohammad Ayub Dar .
  • 1999: Irregulars penetrate from the Pakistani to the Indian part around the city of Kargil, Fourth Indo-Pakistani War
  • 2000: State of Jammu and Kashmir demands extensive autonomy from India, which is rejected by the Indian President
  • 2001: Suicide attack by Islamic extremists on the parliament in Srinagar and New Delhi, in return India blocks all traffic connections to Pakistan
  • 2002: Large military units and units deployed on both sides of the “Line of Control”, individual skirmishes, in the event of a war Pakistan threatens a non-conventional counter-attack: nuclear weapons
  • Since the beginning of 2004: The situation in Kashmir has eased, but according to the Heidelberg Institute for Conflict Research and the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University, attacks in Kashmir still occur almost every week, killing numerous civilians.
  • 2005: In April India and Pakistan resumed a direct bus connection in the embattled border region of Kashmir for the first time in almost 60 years. The possibility of travel is an important step in the peace efforts of the hitherto hostile nuclear powers .
  • 2007: The terrorist organization al-Qaeda declares holy war on India over Kashmir.
  • 2019: A suicide bomber of the Islamist Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) attacks a police convoy in Lethpora and blows himself up with 40 victims.
  • 2019: The state of Jammu and Kashmir is dissolved and divided into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh .


Pashmina scarves made of cashmere wool and silk, made in Nepal

The precious cashmere wool is named after the region and is extracted from the undercoat of the cashmere goat at the end of winter by combing it. Approx. 150 grams are collected per animal, which then have to be cleaned (by hand) from the individual upper hairs (awns). The selling price of the wool depends on its quality; the hair should be as fine (thin), long and light (white) as possible.


Web links

Commons : Kashmir  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Kashmir  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Dagmar Röhrlich: Seismic danger in the Kashmir valley . In:, Deutschlandfunk, Forschung Aktuell , January 9, 2012 (January 14, 2012)
  2. ^ Instrument of Accession executed by Maharajah Hari Singh on October 26, 1947
  3. ^ "(Draft) resolution on the India-Pakistan question" (Resolution 47, 1948).