Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 October 2012
India and Pakistan were long-time colonies of Great Britain. In 1947, British rule ended and the territories of the empire were partitioned into the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan based largely on the religious characteristics of the population in the territories. While most Muslim territories were quickly incorporated into Pakistan, the maharajah of Kashmir, Hari Singh, hesitated instead of joining the new state, even though his territory was 77 percent Muslim. Pakistani forces immediately tried to force the maharajah into accession with guerrilla violence. Singh then appealed to Louis Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India for the British, and he agreed to assist, so long as the Kashmiri territory became part of India. Singh agreed, and Indian forces pushed the Pakistani irregulars from the area (Stein and Arnold 2010). The war that followed lasted into the next year and claimed thousands of lives. Unresolved, the dispute recurred multiple times, resulting in deadly wars between Pakistan and India in 1965 and 1999. They fought a related war in 1971, and China and India actually fought over territory in the area in 1962. The sensitivity of the region is one reason why the floodlights along the border can be seen from space at night, as the photo on the book jacket shows.
Why does it really matter to both India and Pakistan which state Kashmir joined in 1947? The land itself, though breathtakingly beautiful, provides little in the way of resources or raw materials for manufacturing.