Called as Azad Kashmir in Pakistan, the PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) has been a bone of contention between the two neighboring countries since 1947. The region is referred by United Nations and other international organizations, as “Pakistani-controlled Kashmir” (or Pakistan Administered Kashmir) and it was re-named as Pakistan-Occupied Jammu-Kashmir by the Modi government. The 13,297 square kilometers region which has an estimated population of about four million has added fuel to the burning enmity between India and Pakistan.
India has never given up its claim on the region, though Pakistan has the administration control over PoK. Through decades all the efforts of resolving the issue has seen failure over and over again. Neither people from Pakistan, India or the world know the true story behind PoK and why the issue cannot be resolved peacefully.Let us have a look at 17 lesser known facts about Pakistan Occupied Kashmir which has kept the fire burning since 1947.
17. Not ruled by the British
Jammu and Kashmir never came under the direct British rule during their colonization of the Indian subcontinent. It remained under the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh.
16. The Kohala Bridge Episode
It is lesser known fact that Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, a Kashmiri Pundit was stopped at the Kohala Bridge in 1946, and refused entry into the state. He and his companions were arrested by Maharaja Hari Singh when they entered the state anyway.
15. Independent State
At the time of Partition, Jammu and Kashmir was given the status of an independent state. It had option of either joining India or Pakistan at its will. MaharajaHari Singh decided to keep Kashmir and independent state.
14. Instrument of Accession
Though India celebrated its independence on August 15, 1947, Maharajah Hari Singh agreed to accede to the Dominion of India only on 26th October 1947. By the time the invasion of Kashmir by the pathan tribesmen supported by Pakistan had gone beyond control.
13. Pathan Tribesmen
Initially the invasion into the independent state of Jammu and Kashmir came from the Pathan Tribesmen, who plundered and looted their way up to Srinagar. Pakistan denied its role in this invasion though the evidence suggested something else.
12. Role of Mountbatten
Maharaja Hari Singh sent a letter to Lord Mountbatten asking for his help when the Pathan’s were at his doorstep. Lord Mountbatten threw in a remark “It is my Government’s wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Jammu and Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people” which led to the unending dispute between India and Pakistan.
11. Accession Day
Accession Day is a holiday celebrated in Jammu and Kashmir, commemorating 26 October 1947, when Maharaja Hari Singh signed of the Instrument of Accession to India. Festivities on the Indian side of the state include holding rallies, bursting of firecrackers, singing India’s national anthem, and raising the flag of India.
10. Black Day
The Accession Day is considered as a black day by the Kashmiri separatists, who do not approve of the Indian Army’s presence in their land.
9. Dispute regarding the date
To this day, there is ongoing dispute regarding the exact date when Maharaja Hari Singh signed the accession document. Though it is accepted that it was signed on 26th October, Prem Shankar Jha, Indian historian says it was signed on 25th October whereas the British researcher, Andrew Whitehead claims the accurate date to be 27th October. Nothing about the Kashmir comes without dispute attached to it.
The state claims to have a self-governing legislative assembly though it is known fact that it is under the control of Pakistan. The present president of the state is Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan and Chaudhry Abdul Majid is its current Prime Minister.
7. Ceding Part of PoK to China
While India has been claiming the region to be its territory, Pakistan conveniently signed Sino-Pakistan Agreement and ceded over hundreds of square kilometers of land in Northern Kashmir and Ladakh to China in 1963.
6. Wrong decision by Nehru
Many political researchers consider the move of Nehru government to approach the U.N for settling the matter is what left the dispute unresolved.
5. Political suicide
Neither the Pakistani nor Indian Government dare go soft on the Kashmir dispute, because that would mean a political suicide for the party. Though the territory has no economical value for either country, it has now become the symbol of national identities for both the countries.
4. Warring Zone
Apart from the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, all the other disputes between India and Pakistan are either directly or indirectly related to the PoK issue.
3. Tank Battle
The five month war (April 1965- September 1965) between India and Pakistan in 1965 witnessed the largest tank battle to place since the World War II. There were thousands of casualties for both the nations, though India had gained upper hand by the time ceasefire was declared with the intervention of USA and USSR. A western official assessing the consequences of this conflict quoted, ‘Now it’s apparent to everybody that India is going to emerge as an Asian power in its own right’ which throws light on the result.
Though U.N had ordered ceasefire between India and Pakistan in 1948, the plebiscite demanded by the U.N. could not move forward because they left many issues unresolved. It only increased the friction between India and Pakistan.
1. Danger of Nuclear War
Since both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, there are chances of nuclear war breaking out between the two nations over the PoK conflict. In such milieu everyone is going to be a loser. The disturbing stalemate situation hence continues with no visible sign of an end.