Contending Nationalisms: Kashmir and the Prospects for Peace

By Chenoy, Kamal | Harvard International Review, Fall 2006 | Go to article overview

Contending Nationalisms: Kashmir and the Prospects for Peace

Chenoy, Kamal, Harvard International Review

Since 1947 the Kashmir dispute has bedeviled relations between Pakistan and India. It has led to three separate wars, in 1947, 1965, and 1971, and a serious armed conflict in Kargil in 1999. In addition, because both countries are declared nuclear weapons states, Indo-Pak hostilities may have serious repercussions for South Asian relations in the future. Although attempts at regional cooperation--such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the South Asia Free Trade Agreement--have been made in the past, almost all of them have floundered without making any meaningful progress.


The roots of the Kashmir conflict lie beyond the controversial accession of Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir to India; the core tension between the two countries is the confrontation between their two nationalisms. Pakistani nationalism and the "two-nation theory" are founded upon the belief that Muslims would be oppressed under Hindu-majority rule; hence the need for a Muslim state that is separate from Hindu-majority India. And since Kashmir (shorthand for Jammu and Kashmir) is a Muslim-majority state and is part of the unfinished agenda of the 1947 Partition, it should therefore belong to Pakistan. On the other hand, Indian nationalism is secular and initially opposed the idea of Pakistan. It believes that Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, and Jews can live together under one unified nation as they have done for centuries. Kashmir is critical to Indian nationalism because ceding Kashmir would represent a defeat of Indian secularism in a Muslim-majority state. As a result, Kashmir has become hostage to these bitterly contending nationalisms.

Nationalist Struggles and Problems of Governance

India has always recognized the unique nature of Kashmir and, in 1949, incorporated it as such into the Indian Constitution. The special Article 370 granted most governing powers to the Kashmiris, except for some critical powers such as defense, foreign affairs, currency, and communications, which remained vested with the federal government. Kashmiris received their own constitution and flag, and the Kashmir Assembly was to decide which Indian laws, if any, would be permitted to apply to Kashmir. These concessions were quite remarkable for a constitution that was otherwise centralized and never once mentioned the word "federal."

The powers of the Kashmir Constitution, however, did not last long. By 1953 Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru could no longer stomach the popular Kashmiri Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah's assertions of Kashmir's autonomy or even independence from India. Sheikh Abdullah was summarily removed and placed under house arrest. Soon afterwards, Article 370 was systematically whittled down at the behest of the central government by pliant assemblies produced by rigged elections.

The growing Kashmiri tension did not become militarized until the 1987 elections, wherein opposition Muslim United Front candidates were robbed of a significant number of seats while counting agents and candidates were beaten and thrown out of counting centers. In response, large numbers of Kashmiri youth crossed over the border to Pakistan and were trained and armed. This led to the Kashmir insurgency, which by 1989 was backed by a wave of popular support within Kashmir and Pakistan.

Though Pakistan trained and armed the young Kashmiris who had crossed over to garner support for their "freedom struggle," the provocation arose primarily from India, not Pakistan. Henceforth, Pakistani-trained militants, most of whom were non-Kashmiri, have fought against the Indian security forces in Kashmir, marking a new stage in the dispute. The violence spread, and terrorist attacks were launched against innocent civilians throughout the rest of India, causing thousands of civilian deaths. In retaliation, sectarian Hindu parties have invoked the Kashmir struggle to identify Indian Muslims with Pakistan. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Contending Nationalisms: Kashmir and the Prospects for Peace


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.