Introduction of Kashmir
Ancient region and princely state, bordered on the N by China and Afghanistan, partitioned 1949 into the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and a northern portion in Pakistan. Kashmir was part of the Mogul Empire, and the lovely Vale of Kashmir in the west was a favorite resort of the emperors. Later Kashmir came under the Afghans and then the Sikhs. The whole area has long been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan, leading to border fighting in 1965 and 1971. In the late 1980s, Muslim resistance to Indian rule escalated, with some militants supporting independence and others union with Pakistan. A rigged election in 1987 sparked violence, and the Kashmiri legislature was suspended. In 1990 direct presidential rule was imposed in the state. Plans to hold elections in 1995 were aband oned following the burning of an important Muslim shrine and its surrounding town and riots in Srinagar. Fighting again erupted in May 1999, when India launched air strikes and then ground action against infiltrators from Pakistan. After heavy losses on both sides, a cease-fire was reached in mid-July 1999. Kashmiri legislation restoring the state’s pre–1953 autonomy and negotiations between India and one of the Muslim militant groups proved short-lived in 2000. Kashmir guerrilla attacks in 2002 threatened to spark a broader conflict between India and Pakistan. Despite such attacks, credible elections were held in October 2002 leading to a new government that favored negotiating with the separatists. In 2005 a powerful earthquake rocked this region of Pakistan, killing over 70,000 people.