Kashmir: the local expression of a global problem

Should we just allow each country to do as they please in their own backyard?

The conflict triggered by India revoking Kashmir’s status of autonomy is far from local, distant and exotic. It is the local expression of a global problem that affects us Catalans and, in this particular instance, it carries huge additional risks: it is set in a region disputed by three nuclear powers (India, Pakistan and China). Kashmir’s is an unusual case. When the British withdrew from India in 1947, two states were created: Pakistan, combining the Muslim-majority areas, and India, where the population is mostly Hindu.

Kashmir is a largely Muslim region within India that enjoys a considerable level of autonomy, which India has just revoked. This, let’s say, autonomous solution is not peaceful. The local population is split into three camps: those who support self-rule within India, those who advocate joining Pakistan, and supporters of creating a new independent country. They have had seventy years of violence and have risked all-out war between India and Pakistan. The suspension of Kashmir’s self-rule —prompted by Hindu nationalism— upsets a delicate compromise and lays down a dilemma for the international community: should we resolve these conflicts through the right to self-determination, or should we just allow each country to do as they please in their own backyard? The latter option would be catastrophic and there is chance it could get even worse.

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