Aneela Shahzad// Based on similar physiognomy between Kashmiris and Jews and many similar names and toponyms, Jewish descent of the Kashmiri people is also claimed. Yet at the accumulation of their long historical evolution, they chose Islam as their way of life.
Like the great Hindu Kush, the Karakoram and Himalayas, the world’s three most complex mountain ranges, meet at their extremities in Kashmir – they separate at their feet, three distinct cultures, Islam, Hinduism and Communism. Three cultures that are just as well-grounded as the Karakoram, as stanch as the Hindu Kush and as definite as the Himalayas, and that have proven to be unsurmountable by the other.
As of the Kashmiri people themselves, the prevalent theory is that they were of Aryan descent, their language being an Indo-Aryan Dardic one. Based on similar physiognomy between Kashmiris and Jews and many similar names and toponyms, Jewish descent of the Kashmiri people is also claimed. Yet at the accumulation of their long historical evolution, they chose Islam as their way of life.
The Greater Kashmir that is disputed between Pakistan and India includes Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract (Shaksgam Valley).
War broke out between India and Pakistan in 1948 over the enticed accession of Kashmir to India. As a result Pakistan was able to liberate Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan from Indian occupation, while Jammu, Ladakh and the Kashmir Vale remains under Indian occupation to this day.
Aksai Chin is a large swath of land controlled by China, bordering both Gilgit-Baltistan and Indian Occupied Kashmir. Aksai Chin is vital for China as it connects the remote provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet. In 1962, China and India fought a war over Aksai Chin; in 1996, the two countries signed agreements to respect the Line of Actual Control. In 2014 China made a build-up of troops in Aksai Chin that made incursions into Ladakh causing a stand-off between the two countries. This is in addition to the Arunachal Pradesh tension, which China claims to be a part of its province Tibet.
Gilgit-Baltistan, the cradle of the Hindu Kush Mountains, was not a part of Kashmir when the British sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh, founder of the Dogra Dynasty, in 1846, after they had defeated the Sikhs in the First Anglo-Sikh War. But later the Dogra waged a number of battles to occupy Gilgit-Baltistan. The Dogras incorporated Gilgit-Baltistan into Kashmir even though the people had more cultural affinity to the people of Ladakh. As of post-partition, the population of Gilgit-Baltistan wants to be merged into Pakistan as a separate fifth province and is opposed to integration with Indian-held Kashmir. But the Pakistani government has to pend the Gilgit-Baltistani calls for integration with Pakistan on the grounds that this would jeopardize the resolution of the Whole-Kashmir Issue according to UN resolutions.
The article was first published here.