What’s up with the World fighting?


Rohan Muralidharan Iyer has done an 8 pager on the various important international conflicts in the contemporary scene. They are very important for your Entrances as these conflicts tend not to die down and flare up again and again (and hence, are always “current”) questions related to the important parties involved, the prominent individuals, famous agreements, dates, etc have usually come in one of the entrances, almost always. We will do one conflict at a time, so that you have enough time to digest the given information, understand the issue and remember it.

Disclaimer – There are 100’s of others disputed areas like the Somaliland, regional dispute between Japan and China, Parcel Islands etc. I have tried to cover the most important and controversial ones, which have guided the world politics in the post war era. We also see how the UN has been more or less unsuccessful in reaching a climax to these issues. One point to note is that the information provided above is a very objective one and does not take any particular stand. In my personal capacity I have my interpretations of these issues and the editor also has his own [which are very radical and well, politically incorrect]. Now, what I would like you to do is, take this as the foundation of your study (to get a general outline) and do in depth research on every issue and thus frame your opinions. For any further help you are free to contact the editor or me.

The Question of Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir was a former princely state of the British Empire in India, from 1846 until 1947, after which India gained independence, and was partitioned into the Dominion of Pakistan (mostly Muslim) and the Union of India (mostly Hindu). Each Indian state was given a choice to join either India or Pakistan, and when the ruler of Jammu &Kashmir decided to remain independent, this led to a territorial dispute over the Kashmir region, the parties to the conflict were India, China, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir themselves. The problem with J&K was that it had a majority Muslim population with the ruler being Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh.

During that time due the fear that his state will be taken over by militant muslim revolutionaries, the raja ceded with India and signed the Instrument Of Accession.

This led to a direct intervention of the Indian army and the 1st Kashmir war broke out, the Indian government moved to the UN Security Council which passed the UNSC Resolution-47 that called for an immediate cease fire of the conflict and ordered the withdrawal of all Pakistani military presence .It also said that India would have minimum military presence and the final disposition of the issue will be done through a plebiscite of the people of J&K under the auspices of UN. Both of them agreed to hold the plebiscite but Pakistan did not withdraw troops from Kashmir (Pakistan administrated Kashmir).

This led to passing of furthermore resolutions on demilitarization of the region, which were accepted by Pakistan but rejected by India. There was tension throughout the next few decades, In 1962 Sino-Indian War broke out , a disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role like the Tibet (granting asylum to Dalai Lama). India discovered a road that the Chinese had built through Aksai Chin, shown as Chinese on official Chinese maps. Beginning in 1954, India had shown on its official Survey of India maps a definite boundary line awarding Aksai Chin to itself, despite no military or other occupation of the area. Before 1954, Indian maps had shown undefined and indefinite boundary lines in this area.

After the war, Chinese claimed complete De-facto control over this region, while the Indians still see it as a part of Kashmir, the Pakistanis have accepted the region to be a part of china in accordance to Sino-Pakistani border agreement ,1963.Progressively, the war of 1965 and 1971 broke out , which saw victories of India over Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh. The Simla Agreement was signed in 1972 between India and Pakistan. By this treaty, both countries agreed to settle all issues by peaceful means and mutual discussions in the framework of the UN Charter. In 1989, a widespread armed insurgency started in Kashmir, after the 1987 State election disputes resulted in some of the states legislative assembly forming militant wings creating the catalyst for the Mujahadeen insurgency (i.e. the group that was fighting the soviets in Afghanistan till that time), which continues to this day. India claims these insurgents are Islamic terrorist groups from Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Afghanistan, fighting to make Jammu and Kashmir part of Pakistan. They claim Pakistan is supplying munitions to the terrorists, and training them in Pakistan.

The Pakistani government calls these insurgents, “Kashmiri freedom fighters”, and claims that it gives only moral and diplomatic support to these insurgents and there is no concept of mujahadeens entering into India. In 1999, the Kargil Conflict began , due to extreme cold the Indian soldiers used to move down to lower altitudes, the insurgents took advantage of this and occupied vacant mountain peaks of the Kargil range overlooking the highway in Indian Kashmir. By blocking the highway, they wanted to cut off the only link between the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. This resulted in a high-scale conflict between the Indian Army and the Pakistan Army.

The war led to victory of Indians and the Pakistanis were forced to retreat, and India regained all the peaks they had lost. Across the years there have been charges and countercharges, lot of committees have been setup, delegations have been sent, front channel talks, back channel talks ,interlocutors etc. but an ultimate solution is yet to be reached.

This piece talks only about the question of Kashmir with Pakistan and China. Keep a check on the supplements to know India’s problems with the entity’s populace, keep a check on the supplements. Read Arundhati Roy and BBC.


  1. It’s amazing how we continue to carry on a 64 year old conflict over Kashmir, draining precious resources and time. Great piece. Could you please put up Rwanda and Sudan as well?

  2. Thanks a ton. Diverting a little from the topic, I’d like to ask – is international law mainly concerned just with conflict in practice?

  3. Ok c international law is a term which refers to laws that govern the behaviour of a nation in relation to others and the world community as a whole ! There are various brances of international law such as laws of the seas , humanitarian law , criminal law ,conflict laws,territorial laws ! So yes world conflicts have a say in framing and functioning of international laws !

  4. Padmini – for now, just remember that International Law is the law BETWEEN nations. It is essentially based on conventions, treaties and customary practices (that are converted into the former).

    Conflict, Crime, Trade, Peace, Cooperation, Natural Resources, etc – all come in International Law. Anything “legal”, that governs the nations deal with each other.

    • If your question is something like this – “Who punishes you for breaking a treaty/agreement?” – No one can. That is the fun part about it all, all of them are obligations – and they are complied with on their on. At max, you might be kicked out of a grouping for not complying with the norms required for membership (When Egypt made peace with Israel, the Arab League kicked it out, however, it regained its membership.) But the recent trend has been a little better – with WTO having dispute resolution bodies that take care of complaints from countries about other countries or the ICJ, which has a similar role of territorial dispute resolution between countries.

      However, except sanctions (again, reserved for countries the USA does not like) and war (same) and boycott (effective when third world countries want to deal with relatively powerful ones, like the case of South African apartheid, and very soon, Israel) – there is not much scope of international law’s enforcement.

      This should be enough – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_international_law#Enforcement

      So yes, the UN is a body of voluntary association, you keep one of the UNSC 5 happy (preferably the USA and its 3 henchmen) and you’ll do well. You comply with International Law and keep the USA unhappy, you’ll be called Iran

  5. uhmm not necessarily ! UN through it’s subsidiaries and organs does majority of framing and regulation of laws eg- International Law Commission drafted the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties ! But some sources are also regional blocks such as the ASEAN , NATO,EU & ARAB LEAGUE or maybe 2-3 countries among them only ! As far as the US influence is concerned it is there it is surely there and we can’t live in denial mode , But the whole international diplomacy is all about satisfying the Power Houses ( We know who’s the strongest among them).

  6. The UNSC yesterday (16 November 2010) removed Kashmir from its list of unsolved international disputes. The Indians welcomed it while the Pakistanis and the pro-independence people protested, and said they would ask the UNSC to review it.

  7. Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project—

    The Government of Pakistan has been reported to be contemplating approaching the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) regarding the Kishanganga hydro-power project that is being constructed by India in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan believes that the construction is a violation of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty that governs the water sharing between the two countries…

    India, has finally appointed Peter Tomka, Vice President and Sitting Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and Lucius Caflisch, a Swiss international law expert and also a Professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva to represent India in the Kishanganga project dispute with Pakistan. India failed to persuade Pakistan to resolve the dispute at the Government level.

    find out on whch river was the kishanganga project getting constructed?

  8. india and its disputes with neighbouring countries :-

    1) dispute over minicoy island

    1) unresolved kashmir dispute , involving siachen glacier.
    2) issues of ferozpur and pathankot districts.. ( which can never been solved)
    3) dispute overe kori creek and maritime boundary between the two..

    china ( people’s republic) —
    1) india claims aksai chin and trans-karakoram tract.
    2) china claims arunachal pradesh , a state in north-east in india..

    find out which organisation said that jammu and kashmir AND arunachal pradesh are seprte states? name the head of the organisation ….

    • Good job Abhay.

      I’ve followed India-Maldives relations pretty well, and have never come across any dispute between the two countries. I am curious to know more about the dispute. Please provide more information on this.

      Similarly, I couldn’t find anything on the Pathankot and Firozpur issue.

      The organization is FAO. And FAO did not treat the J&K and AP as separate countries, it treated them as “separate entities”. Most UN organizations, while preparing reports or indexes follow the rule that occupied, lawless or recently formed territories are treated as such. For example the UNDP’s HDR Index uses the term “other territories” for Iraq, Palestine and Grenada. Reasons differ – from disputes to lack of official data or government cooperation.

      The ToI people are morons. They have quoted the official as giving an explanation as to why they’ve treated the states separately, essentially because it was a territorial dispute. But they’ve gone on to say (with stupid audacity) that FAO has treated them as separate countries.

      I think Iyer would like to deal with the rest in a little detail.

    • Rishabh – A country is recognized by the rest of the world, it has a government functioning (at least partially), has international relations, and, well, acts like a country.
      A separate entity might be a disputed territory, a country under foreign occupation,a territory under conflict and so on.
      Best examples – Occupied territories of Palestine, Western Sahara, Kashmir, etc

      Hope the answer is clear enough, if not, please ask for further clarifications

  9. @ aymen sir

    Maldives dispute—-

    Minicoy Island or Maliku is the only inhabited island of the Maliku Atoll. It is the second largest and the southern-most among the islands of the Lakshadweep archipelago, measuring about 10 km from its northern end to its southernmost point. Minicoy is a long island, almost completely covered with coconut trees. One of the few landmarks of the island is a tall lighthouse.
    The locals, the Malikun, call their island “Maliku,” as do the Maldivians, while it is called “Minikkoy” in Malayalam.
    On the southern side of the main island lies the uninhabited islet of Viringili where formerly the lepers of Minicoy were banished.
    This atoll is administered by India under the Indian Union Territory of Lakshadweep. However, the closest island to Minicoy is Thuraakunu in the Republic of Maldives.

  10. @aymen sir
    Under the Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi Islands (Laws) Regulations, 1967 of the Government of India, the following people may enter Minicoy (Maliku):
    Persons who had taken up permanent residence in Minicoy at any time before 1967 and members of the families of such persons.Member of the Armed Forces of India entering Minicoy on duty.Persons serving in connection with the administration of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep proceeding to Minicoy on official duty and members of their families.Officials and non-officials sponsored by any of the Ministries or Departments of the Government of India or the Administrator of Lakshadweep.Indian Tourists permitted by the Administrator of Lakshadweep.Non-Indian nationals permitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India for visits for such periods as may be specified by the Ministry, or the Administrator of Lakshadweep.Employees of the Indian federal and state governments, Indian public sector undertakings and bona fide domestic servants and cooks permitted by the Administrator of Lakshadweep.Maldive nationals permitted by the High Commissioner of India to the Maldives to visit specifically Minicoy for the period not exceeding fifteen days. Such persons may not disembark on any other Lakshadweep island unless permitted as per point 6 above.The High Commissioner of India in Malé shall intimate the names of the persons whose visits are permitted and the period of their stay to the Administrator of Lakshadweep sufficiently in advance. The Administrator may, on valid grounds, extend the period of stay of Maldive nationals.

  11. Stop this ‘Sir’ business.

    I still dont figure out the ‘conflict’. Maldives has never questioned India’s sovereignty over Minicoy, has it?

  12. There is no disput whatsoever regarding Sovereignty issues of Minicoy right now though our ever so friendly neighbor pakistan claims that India swallowed Minicoy Islands (forgotten by the British) without any negotiation with the other dominion (pakistan).
    On December 18, 1790 Minicoy was surrendered to the Court of Directors of the English East India Company by the Ali Raja of Cannanore, Ali-Adi Raja Bibi II. The Ali Raja was allowed to administer Minicoy in return for a tribute to the East India Company. She continued to dispute the transfer of sovereignty but in 1824, her successor, Mariambe Ali-Adi Raja Bibi made a formal written recognition of the suzerainty of the East India Company. She and her successors, however, continued the tributary arrangement.In 27 July 1795, the Governor General of the Presidency of Madras under whose jurisdiction Minicoy was, abolished Junumabe Ali Adi-Raja Bibi’s coir monopoly. This was the beginning of the end of the Ali Raja’s real control over Minicoy.In 1857, suzerainty over Minicoy transferred from the East India Company to the Indian Empire when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress.In 1905 under the heavy burden of debts to the Empire, Mohamed Ali-Adi Raja agreed to surrender sovereignty and control over Minicoy. He died before the formal transfer. After an attempt to back track, his successor Imbicchi Ali-Adi Raja Bibi finally signed over Minicoy to the Emperor Edward VII on 9 February 1909, back dated to 1 July 1905. Following this, Minicoy was annexed to the District of Malabar.In August 1947 the possessions of the Emperor of India passed to either the Indian Union or Pakistan according to an agreed demarcation line. The rulers of the independent countries that were vassals of the Emperor had the choice of acceding to either India or Pakistan.While Minicoy was a sovereign possession of the Emperor and not that of an independent country such as Cannanore, Kashmir or Hyderabad, it is unclear why India felt it necessary to hold a plebiscite in Minicoy in 1956 to determine whether or not the people of Minicoy wished to join the Indian Union.On 1 November 1956, India formally annexed Minicoy and incorporated it into the Union Territory of Laccadive Minicoy and Amindivi Islands, renamed Lakshadweep in 1973

  13. For the kishanganga project issue go thru this link : http://www.barandbench.com/brief/2/697/kishanganga-project-pakistan-to-approach-ica-against-india-hires-legal-expert
    And yes i see aymen talking about the FAO fiasco , well indeed they showed J&K , Arunachal as different states so to say(it also included askai chin) , The names are there in annexure five of the 2010 FAO report to assess greenhouse gas emissions from the dairy sector ! But the FAO representative in India issued a clarification just a day after that , the intention was to show them as disputed territories as against seperate countries , and thus FAO dropped the references to Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as “independent entities” in its 2010 report and has initiated a review of system for designating countries and territories.

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