A current map of the world shows that Kashmir within India's borders. However some parts of Kashmir are claimed by Pakistan.
What historical claims do Pakistan and India make to Kashmir?
There was no country called India when the colonialists arrived. The regions was a network of independent states. While the British ruled directly in some places, in other parts of India rulership was by local kings (Maharajas) under British oversight. The region of rule was approximately that currently occupied by India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
In 1947 it was hoped by many people that India could achieve independence as a single nation. This turned out not to be possible, and the region was split largely along religious and ethnic lines. The predominantly Muslim parts became Pakistan and the predominantly Hindu parts became India. (Pakistan later split into what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh).
For those regions still under semi-independent rule, they got to choose which they belonged to. Kashmir was one of those. It was right on the border between the two areas, with a mainly Muslim population but a Hindu ruler. Pakistan assumed Kashmir would join them, but the ruler prevaricated. Pakistani militants started a guerilla war to take it over, and the ruler appealed to the British Indian authorities for support, and opted to join India in response.
Both sides therefore claimed the region should be part of their country. Several wars have been fought over the region, and there are ongoing border tensions which occasionally flare up into conflict.
This is a burning issue recently. I will try to cover all bases here.
The region of Jammu & Kashmir is a Muslim-dominated state with a sizeable minority population. Its last Hindu king chose to join India in 1947 as the British left India. The newly created Pakistan wanted the region as it was Muslim dominated. Since then both nations have used force to make their point clear. As both nations want it equally badly, both nations nuclear powered and the state is a rich source of water & strategic advantage, there is a stalemate.
In 1947 at the dawn of freedom from Britain, India was split to provide a new nation for the Muslims - Pakistan. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the movement, wanted every Muslim-majority region in India to be a part of his new country. At that time 75% of the Kashmir region was Muslim and thus Jinnah wanted this to be a part of his new nation.
The British Viceroy(Mountbatten?) who handled the partition gave the individual kings the right to decide between joining either India or Pakistan. Instrument of Accession (Jammu and Kashmir) The greedy Dogra king wanted neither & planned to keep the kingdom separate from either. That was impractical given the geography & history, but then, the king wasn't exactly known for sound reason.
As the king vacillated for months, the newly created Pakistan sent a troop of raiders to force the king to submission. Kashmir conflict The king fled to India and agreed to join India in return for protecting his region from the Pakistani raiders. Soon, India and Pakistan were involved in the war: Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and the Pakistanis were pushed back to the dotted line in the map below.
India believes that the region belongs to her because the king had signed the instrument of accession to join India. It believes Culturally, Kashmir is similar to the rest of India.
Pakistan claims the region as Three-fourths of its population was Muslim at the time of Partition in 1947.
Now, why is this such a major issue when both the countries could sit at a table and discuss this out? The answer is water! The main water-supply for irrigation in Pakistan and some of the Western states in India is the Indus river. It passes through Kashmir. And controlling the state gives the country a strategic advantage in the region.
There are few facts we need to keep in mind before finding an answer to this question.
Does history of India start form 1947?
The history of India (or Bharat) does not start from end of British Colonial era or earlier with the arrival of Mughals. It dates back to thousands of years and we can only approximate the date on the basis of the dating of Vedas and the unearthing of Indus Valley Civilization.
Though it must be older as there was a long prevailing tradition of oral transmission of knowledge from one generation to another much before it was jotted down in Vedas and other texts. This tradition can still be experienced in the state of Kerala in present India.
Why Pakistan was created?
The reasons of the creation of Pakistan were more political than practical. Just believing that since one particular area has major Muslim population caused the creation of Pakistan is being very naive. The present number of Muslims in India is almost equal to the Population of today's Pakistan (source). Should India be divided again on this basis?
The actual reason of the creation of Pakistan was the political aspirations of Mohd. Ali Jinnah who wanted to rule an independent nation.
Now, The Story of Kashmir
It's true that at the time of independence, there were many small Kingdoms present in India and their unification was not cakewalk. The kingdoms were given three options; to be with India, join Pakistan or stay independent.
Kashmir's King was Raja Hari Singh. Like many kings, he initially wanted to be independent but yet was taking his time to decide. Meanwhile, Jinnah played it dirty and sent unofficial attackers (Kabayli) to occupy Kashmir. Initially King Hari Singh tried to fight them but when the attackers reached close to Srinagar, the King asked India's help and showed his willingness to join Indian Union. India (Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel and Louis Mountbatten) asked him to sign the 'Instrument of Accession' officially. After he did that, India sent its troops to Kashmir and defeated the attackers.
At that time (1947), British Commanders were still supervising Indian troops. When Jinnah asked his commander to officially send troops to Kashmir, they refused by saying Kashmir was now a part of India, as declared by its king.
Then why is there a fuss over it yet?
When the king already made a decision to join India and when the people of Kashmir were also of the same view, there was no question of Kashmir's association with Pakistan. But probably, Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel did not strongly object the question of referendum raised by Governor Mountbatten. Even Jinnah did not agree for referendum when Mountbatten proposed it to him.
Helpful info: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBKn6TFDVxQ
The historical claims for both India and Pakistan are quite weak in fact. Kashmir could well have become independent, sort of like Nepal. Kashmir is quite remote from the rest of the subcontinent, tucked in in the midst of Himalayas, and it followed its own independent line of historical development.
Kashmir was conquered by Emperor Akbar in 1586 and it was part of the Mugal Empire until it fell apart. If we think of the present day India-Pakistan as historical successors to the Mughal Empire (intervened by the British for 200 years), then I suppose Kashmir is part of their combine (which is not the case for Nepal).
Probably more important is what happened during British Indian Empire. Kashmir started "liberalising" at the beginning ofthe 20th century. Most of the later day political elites went to study in either Lahore or Aligarh. Those that went to study in Lahore (e.g., Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas) might have thought of Kashmir as going along with Pakistan and those that went to Aligarh (e.g., Sheikh Abdullah) might have thought of it as going along with India. There were divided loyalties in 1947. Secondly, there were also divided ideologies, those that subscribed to the two nation theory (that Muslims and Hindus were separate nations) and those that didn't subscribe to it.
On the whole it was a messy situation, and it would have been best for India and Pakistan to leave it alone. It seems that India was willing to do so, but Pakistan wasn't. They thought of Kashmir as being an essential part of their new nation. Once they invaded, things got even messier.
What historical claims do Pakistan and India make to Kashmir?
India doesn't have any historical claim on Kashmir.
60% Kashmiris are Muslims, and they want to separate from India to join Pakistan. So, Kashmir conflict is all about Kashmiri Muslims' ongoing freedom struggle against the Republic of India.
The following is the map of India in 200 BC.
The following map shows the extent of India during British Empire,
They definitely show Kashmir was part of India. Then, how about Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Myanmar, and Pakistan? According to that map, all those countries should be parts of India.
Is that even a distant possibility?
If we consider that the history of India starts from 1947, even though 60% Kashmiris are Muslims, the ruler of Kashmir in 1947 was a Hindu who decided to join the union of India which drew a statewide protest among Muslims in the first place which is still being continued today.
A current map of the world shows that Kashmir within Indian borders.
A blatant lie.
UNO Map shows Kashmir as a disputed territory,
Google Map shows Kashmir as a disputed territory using dotted lines.
CIA World Map shows Kashmir as a disputed territory,
However, some parts of Kashmir is claimed by Pakistan.
There were Pakistani invasions and Chinese claim of Kashmir in 1947 which split Kashmir into three parts.
Now let us address some concerns of some commenters,
Which ongoing conflict are you talking about? I have not heard of one even though I live in India.There is regular insurgency from paks side and offensive from indian side.Sometimes(rarely) Indian soldiers use AAG to attack pak bunkers.that's all.no war is ongoing currently. – Registered User Mar 8 '14 at 9:07
Which part of India does this guy live in?
I think @RegisteredUser makes a legitimate point: "border tensions" ≠ "ongoing conflict" at least in the way most people would interpret it. It makes it sound like there is a war between the two countries. – The Pompitous of Love May 22 '16 at 19:05