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?

  • On the one hand, I've always wanted to know this, given that I really only understand the history behind one territorial dispute. On the other hand, might this not be suited for history.stackexchange.com better?
    – Publius
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 6:11
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    @Avi That's why I initially closed it - but as I thought about it more, I remembered that just because something fits better on another SE, doesn't mean it off-topic for the first. In general, I prefer not to migrate, unless I have too - and in this case, Kashmir is still a very active ongoing political question between two very, very large countries, making it fully on topic here. Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 15:09
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    Thank you. I thought it was very strange to close the question - I had assumed that it had been closed on the assumption that discussion on this topic is inevitably biased. Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 21:50

5 Answers 5


History provides the answer, such as it is. You can read a lot about it at Wikipedia on Kashmir and Kashmir Conflict.

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.

  • 4
    Which ongoing conflict are you talking about? I have not heard of one even though I live in India.There is regular insergency 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. Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 9:07
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    What you describe is exactly the ongoing conflict I was talking about. Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 15:53
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    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. Commented May 22, 2016 at 19:05

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.

enter image description here

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.

  • ... and the Pakistanis were pushed back to the dotted line in the map below. - is that correct? Gilgit and Baltistan were also part of Kashmir.
    – user4514
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 6:23
  • @anonymous is it not?
    – Sid
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 6:24
  • where did you find that Pakistanis were pushed back ... ?
    – user4514
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 6:25
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    @anonymous At the time ceasefire was agreed, that's how India and Pakistan controlled Kashmir (with Akshai Chin part of India which they then lost to China in the 1962 war). Considering, Pakistan had entered into the Poonch sector and then had to retreat, "pushed back" is a fair assessment in my opinion.
    – Sid
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 6:30
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    @anonymous That is just wrong. China accessed Aksai Chin after the 1962-War. Pakistan had entered into major parts of what is today known as India-Administered Kashmir. Parts like Poonch, Kargil, etc. were under Pakistani control. So, if Indian Army pushed them backwards, "push back" is a good term. Again, Pakistan grabbed only 1/3 of the total land. That is why it is agreed by independent observers that India won the 1948 war. Also, perhaps the Maharaja thought that he could still run a de-facto Government or something like that. I dunno. Maybe he realised the futility of his actions.
    – Sid
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 7:49

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.

Vedas at least 3500 years old (1500 BCE) - More info Indus valley civilization at least 5300 years old (3300 BCE) - More info.

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?

Two reasons:

  • Louis Mountbatten, who was then Governor General of India wanted to have a referendum in Kashmir after peace is established.
  • Nehru announced on radio that he is ready for a referendum after things become normal in the supervision of an International organisation. This was considered a biggest mistake or the reason why Pakistan still claims Kashmir.

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

  • 3
    This very well written, but even after reading it I don't know what the answer to the question is, or at least I'm not sure that I know. Are the claims historical (i.e. derived from the Indus River civilization), based upon Lord Mountbatten, or what? It seems like you have the information but I don't get it, just yet. Commented May 22, 2016 at 19:01
  • Interesting peace. Few nits to pick, If Jinnah wanted to rule an independent nation, why did he spend a lot of years campaigning for Hindu Muslim unity as a member of INC? What changed that? Something he observed or sensed?
    – NSNoob
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 15:00
  • When Cabinet Mission plan was presented, allowing internal autonomy to Muslim provinces and Hindu provinces while both staying in Indian union, why was it that Jinnah accepted the plan and Congress rejected it? A confederation is better than two federations right?
    – NSNoob
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 15:01
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    Downvoted for "when the people of Kashmir were also of the same view" You are defining the views of them without presenting any data. Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 6:43
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    @MohammadSakibArifin, that was Indian way of narrating things.
    – user4514
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 22:46

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.

If we consider that the history of India starts before 1947, there were no countries named the "Republic of India", and the "Islamic Republic of Pakistan".

The following is the map of India in 200 BC.

enter image description here

The following map shows the extent of India during British Empire,

enter image description here

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,

enter image description here

Google Map shows Kashmir as a disputed territory using dotted lines.

enter image description here

CIA World Map shows Kashmir as a disputed territory,

enter image description here

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.

  1. Pakistani administered Kashmir is known as Azad Kashmir(plus, Gilgit-Baltistan and part of Siachen Glacier)
  2. Chinese part of Kashmir is known as Aksai Chin (plus, Shaksgam Valley)
  3. Indian administered Kashmir is known as Jammu and Kashmir (plus, part of Siachen Glacier).

enter image description here


Now let us address some concerns of some commenters,

enter image description here

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?

  1. School Opens with Pakistani anthem & flags in India| Sep 2016
  2. CNN | Kashmir conflict timeline
  3. Wikipedia | Kashmir conflict timeline

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

  1. Kashmir border tension is between Pakistan and India.
  2. Kashmir freedom struggle is between Kashmiri Muslims and the government of India.
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    What a biased answer !!
    – ABcDexter
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 22:21

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