Up until 1947, India and Pakistan were one nation and the Hindu and Muslim communities, despite their differences, shared the same struggle for freedom. However, with the implementation of the Indian Independence Act, the country was partitioned and the new state of Pakistan was formed with the Muslim majority provinces of Sind, Baluchistan, North-Western Frontier Province and West Punjab and East Bengal- if the Legislative Assemblies ruled in Pakistan’s favour. The Indian Union was thus formed with the rest of British India, East Punjab and West Bengal. The hasty partition was a time of great troubles which created aggressive relations between the two newly formed nations. Since the time of independence, the two countries have shared a very hostile, rocky relationship, which has not improved over the years.
India and Pakistan have had their fair share of disagreements, but their longest standing problems are territorial in nature. While there have been numerous territorial disputes among the two countries, Kashmir remains the most disputed territory since the partition of India.
Kashmir’s importance to India and Pakistan lies mainly in its strategic geographic location and water resources. Kashmir provides direct access to China in the northeast, Afghanistan and Turkestan in the northwest, and both India and Pakistan in the south. Kashmir also holds the headwaters of Pakistan’s major rivers and is crisscrossed with canal systems, so the loss of Azad (Pakistani) Kashmir to India would give India control over much of Pakistan’s water supply. This is especially dangerous for Pakistan because it has three times as much irrigation-dependent acreage as India. Kashmir’s location and natural resources, thus, make it a diplomatic and agricultural asset to India and Pakistan.
As history has shown, the Kashmir Conflict is the biggest dispute between India and Pakistan and with the current resurgence of militant activity, it continues to be so.