The region of Kashmir has been a volatile flashpoint between nuclear armed India and Pakistan for over six decades.

In 1846 the princely state of Kashmir was created. It is a region in the Himalayas contested in its entirety by both Pakistan and India. It is bordered by India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China.

Britain gained control of Muslim majority Kashmir in the mid 1800s and granted power to the Hindu Dogra dynasty.

This decision was made without consulting the Kashmiri people who ended up being a majority Muslim population ruled by Hindu rulers. The Dogras were repressive towards the Muslim population who faced forced labour and were heavily taxed.

About a hundred years later in 1947 the two dominions of India and Pakistan were established. Another catastrophic event would affect the Kashmiri people – Partition. During partition, Hindu and Sikh majority areas acceded to India and Muslim majority areas acceded to Pakistan.

Kashmir however was in a unique situation as the population was majority Muslim but was ruled by the Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh who had the decision whether to join Pakistan or India or to remain independent.

He initially wanted independence but there was a Muslim uprising as they wanted to join Pakistan because they were worried the Dogra ruler would attempt to join India. The uprising was brutally quashed.

However with the arrival of Tribesmen from Pakistan, who intended to fight for Kashmir and the signing by the Maharaja of a treaty of accession to India, the Indian army came into Kashmir and the first Indo-Pak war over Kashmir was fought.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir should have acceded to Pakistan because of its Muslim majority population and geographical location, but due to the war, India took control of two thirds of the state and Pakistan was left with a third of the region.

Jammu and Kashmir is about 60 percent Muslim, making it the only state in India where Muslims are in the majority.

The 70 year Kashmir dispute has been an intractable one between the nuclear armed neighbours. They have fought three wars over it in 1948, 1965, and 1999 and smaller conflicts but have not been able to come to a resolution.

The United Nations Security Council has tried to resolve the dispute by declaring that the joining of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through democratic means such as a vote or referendum.

Indian Kashmiris want independence or a union with Pakistan. Indian controlled Kashmir is the most militarised zone in the world as an armed revolt has been waged against Indian rule in the region for three decades, claiming tens of thousands of lives.

The blame for this conflict lies squarely on the shoulders of imperial Great Britain that did not have the foresight to realise the consequence of appointing Hindu rulers over a Muslim majority population.

This conflict has continued for so long due to the Indian and Pakistani aim of possessing the abundant natural and economic resources of Kashmir.

As neighbouring nations with nuclear capabilities the stability of South Asia if not the world centres around reaching a political resolution to this conflict.

In 2019 the Indian government rescinded Jammu and Kashmir of the special status that gave it some autonomy. This is disastrous.

Like many other flashpoints in the world such as Palestine, Britain’s bloody legacy is one of injustice and oppression.