The conflict in Kashmir dates to the partition of India in 1947. The State of Jammu & Kashmir was at this time majority Muslim but with a Hindu ruler, and it was unclear whether it would accede to Pakistan or India. Its eventual accession to India became a matter of dispute between the two countries, with both India and Pakistan claiming ownership of Kashmir. After a brief war in 1947-48, Kashmir was divided between Pakistan and India administered territories. A ceasefire line was agreed under UN supervision, which has since been renamed the ‘Line of Control’. Around one third of the territory has since been administered by Pakistan, with the remainder administered by India, including Kashmir Valley, which has a strong Muslim majority.
Further wars have broken out between India and Pakistan in Kashmir in 1965 and 1999, whilst there is also a Kashmir separatist movement. To further complicate matters in the region, the border with China is also disputed. India does not recognise the border established after war between India and China in 1962. China has traditionally diplomatically favoured Pakistan though relations with India have improved in recent years.
Given the apparently irreconcilable territorial claims in Kashmir, there is no immediate end in sight to this conflict. Now that both India and Pakistan are in possession of nuclear weapons, the stakes in this conflict are of global significance. In this difficult context, local peacebuilders work to diffuse tensions. This work is vital when the potential for local violence to spark larger conflicts carries such huge dangers.