This conflict has resulted in three wars with the most recent arising in the year 1999. The conflict which involves the Indian government, Pakistani government, China, Kashmir separatists, Islamic extremists and militants is a complex combination of external and internal factors which cannot simply be explained by the use of one theory: they need to be placed in context through a combination of hypotheses. The general research question is ‘What factors led to the Indian Pakistan conflict’?
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The Globalist approach to international relations puts forward the argument that capitalism is always seeking for new ways of expansion. To this end, controllers of resources are rarely restricted by borders and may travel far and wide in order to access them. To these individuals, the world is nothing more than a source of new markets or a means of acquiring new capital1. Furthermore, the globalist perspective suggests that nations and economies are becoming increasingly interdependent. This implies that global networks are now more relevant than ever before.
The realist school of thought postulates that nations in international politics are concerned with their interests; gaining power and having security. Classical realists believe that these nations are self seekers with rational actions2. Therefore, cooperation is only done in order to increase the security of a particular nation. This means that war is almost always a result of self interest instead of idealistic reasons.
The liberal view of international politics holds that equality of rights and liberty are the most important matters under consideration globally3. Consequently, fundamental ideals such as human rights, democracy and human rights need to be upheld by all nations. Liberalism has been responsible for the admonition of war since this causes abuse of human rights. However, sometimes, liberals might propagate the use of war if it has been shown that this is the only way to overthrow an oppressive government.
In the case of the Kashmir, it can be argued that this need to control resources may have contributed to the continual struggle. If Kashmir had nothing to offer the conflicting parties, then they would not be struggling so much with it, however, because the latter area is rich in water then this has caused a lot of tension. Kashmir is home to a number of tributaries and rivers associated with the Indus basin. Pakistan is irrigated by rivers like Beas while India is irrigated by Chenab and others. The major objection that Pakistan has against India in the conflict is that most of the rivers that Pakistan depends on have their sources in the Indian controlled portion of Kashmir.
Consequently, Pakistan is apprehensive over having such an important resource under the control of the Indians who may decide to limit the usage of such resources. In fact, these apprehensions led to the creation of the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 designed to deal with the problem. The Treaty advocated for cooperation from both sides but it seems as though India did not meet their end of the bargain since they have been building dams; a decision that has severely restricted access to water by Pakistan4.
As stated earlier in the globalization theory, capitalists are always in pursuit of resources such as water. In this conflict, the governments of India and Pakistan are capitalist protectors and advocates because they are simply trying to secure as much of the water resources as they can so that they can increase agricultural production. Since small scale farmers rarely get much profit, it is the large scale ones or the big land (hence capital) owners who would benefit if their state had a bigger share of the water resources in Kashmir.
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Given the realist interpretation, it can be argued that the Jammu Kashmir conflict is one that reflects the self interests of both India and Pakistan. Both these nations want greater power and governing the entire region of Kashmir would be a big component of this objective. These nations have therefore come up with seemingly selfless or idealistic reasons in order to protect their stances on the matter but upon careful analysis one can see that the territorial disputes in this region are simply a way of securing more power by acquiring more territory by either party.
Pakistan has sometimes stated that it should be in charge of Kashmir because majority of the people there are Muslim just like Pakistan. The latter nation has also stated that the Kashmir people are constantly being oppressed by Indian representatives in the region. This is the reason why Pakistan is supporting them through military and even ethical support. However, as one looks into these issues deeply, one can see that the reasons held by Pakistan may not be as genuine as they are made out to be since they keep changing with time. Pakistan may simply be trying to cover up the fact that it is looking out for its territorial interest as propagated in the realist theory of international relations.
In the case of the Indian Pakistani conflict and liberalism, it can be argued that India was granted a right to rule Kashmir through the Instrument of Accession signed by the Maharaja of Kashmir. Furthermore since this instrument was ratified into the constitution of India then one can argue that it was India’s right to implement the assertions made in the ratifications. This is the reasons why the UN resolution 1172 called for the upholding of India’s right over the region. This conflict was therefore started as a struggle to uphold the constitutionally mandated right of one state5. In other words, the Liberal view would hold that this conflict was an attempt to protect the rights of one nation that had been denied those rights.
The latter hypotheses on the realist, liberal and Marxist theories will be tested through secondary data. Information from independent and governmental reports, government statements and news articles will be collected and analyzed for such patterns so that they can be ascertained.
The Kashmir conflict has been evolving with time and it is therefore difficult to pinpoint one reason for the war. One may look at it as an effort to protect the rights of India which were granted under the accession instrument. Alternatively, one can look at it under the Marxist lens where both nations are simply trying to acquire more resources for their respective capitalists. Lastly, one may say that it is an attempt to secure power through territorial acquisition as seen under the realist lens.
McLean, John. “Marxism and international relations: a strange case of mutual neglect.” International Studies Journal, 17(1988), 54-65.
Alterman Eric. Why we are liberals. NY: Viking Adult, 2008.
Hedley, Bull. Anarchical society. NY: Columbia university press, 1977.
Whitehead, Andrew. A mission in Kashmir. India: Penguin, 2007.
Alexander, Evans. “Why peace will not come to Kashmir.” Current history, 100(645), 170-175.
- John, McLean. “Marxism and international relations: a strange case of mutual neglect.” International Studies Journal, 17(1988), 54-65.
- Hedley, Bull. Anarchical society. NY: Columbia university press, 1977, 46.
- Alterman Eric. Why we are liberals. NY: Viking Adult, 2008, 201.
- Evans, Alexander. “Why peace will not come to Kashmir.” Current history, 100(645), 170-175.
- Whitehead, Andrew. A mission in Kashmir. India: Penguin, 2007, 145.