On Aug. 5, using a presidential order, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the special constitutional status of its portion of Kashmir granted by Article 370 of the constitution, ending the 70-year autonomy of the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir State.
New Delhi sent tens of thousands of soldiers to the Kashmir Valley, cutting off the phone and network in the area and imposing a curfew to prevent protests and resistance from the local populace.
On Aug. 16, the United Nations Security Council held its first formal meeting of the past 50 years on the situation in Kashmir.
Exclusive domain claimed by China, India and Pakistan
Bordered by nuclear-armed China, India and Pakistan, Kashmir is a spectacularly scenic region of snow-capped peaks, vast valleys and barren plateaus.
Modi’s change of Kashmir’s status was strongly opposed by China and its ally Pakistan. The Kashmir border division led to the Sino-Indian border war in 1962. Since then, the disputed borders between India and China have been the subject of fruitless talks. Beijing was particularly critical of India’s decision this time to turn Kashmir’s mostly Buddhist region of Ladakh into an administrative territory directly ruled by New Delhi.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Both India and Pakistan claim sovereignty over the entire Kashmir region, although the two countries only control parts of the region: India controls the bulk of the state, while Pakistan administers about a third. China claims a portion of its Himalayan plateau.
“Status quo” of “one country, two systems”
Kashmir is arguably the worst legacy of the fratricidal partition of British India in 1947. India (mainly Hindu) and Pakistan (mostly Muslim) gained independence in 1947 when the British colonialists left the subcontinent. The following year, India and Pakistan fought for control of Kashmir, with its Muslim majority population. After the war, Pakistan controlled part of Kashmir, while India amended its constitution and granted special rights to the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. According to Article 370, the state of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed complete autonomy and the state legislature was free to draft its own laws except in the areas of communications, defense, finance, and foreign affairs, while Indian citizens were prohibited from purchasing land in the state.
Over the past 70 years, most special rights have been whittled away, but they remained symbolically powerful across Indian-controlled Kashmir, where most people want independence from India or a merger with Pakistan.
“An integral part of the country”
The Indian authorities have argued that Kashmir’s special status had cultivated a sense of separatism that was easy for Pakistan to exploit and was holding back the region’s economic development.
India says Kashmir is an integral part of the country, a sentiment that has broad support across political lines in India.
The UN recommended holding a referendum to let Kashmiris decide their fate, but that never happened.
After the UN Security Council meeting on Aug. 16, the Indian representative to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin, strongly criticized the international intervention in this disputed area, saying that Article 370 is internal matter of India, and “we don’t need international busybodies to try to tell us how to run our lives.”
(Lin Lee-kai, Taipei Times)
1. Please indicate the location of Kashmir on the map.
2. On the map, between China, India and Pakistan, are there any dotted lines that indicate undecided borders?
3. Please describe the development of the Indian subcontinent after its departure from British colonialism in 1947.
4. Compare the situation in Kashmir with Taiwan, and give their similarities and differences.
5. What other countries or regions in the world face problems similar to that of Kashmir?
(Lin Lee-kai, Taipei Times)
1. constitution n.
憲法 (xian4 fa3)
2. autonomy n.
自治 (zi4 zhi4)
3. curfew n.
宵禁 (xiao1 jin4)
4. United Nations Security Council phr.
聯合國安理會 (lian2 he2 guo2 an1 li3 hui4)
5. border n.
邊界 (bian1 jie4)
6. claim sovereignty over phr.
聲稱對（某地）擁有主權 (sheng1 cheng1 dui4 [mo3 di4] yong2 you2 zhu3 quan2)
7. independence n.
獨立 (du2 li4)
8. merger n.
合併 (he2 bing4)
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