On October 17, 1949, the Indian Constituent Assembly adopted Article 370 of the Constitution, ensuring special status and internal autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir with Indian jurisdiction in Kashmir limited to the three areas agreed in the Instrument of Accession (IOA); namely defense, foreign affairs, and communications. Five years passed without a referendum, and in 1954 the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir ratified the accession to India. The legal authority of the Constituent Assembly and the ratification of the accession remained questionable. On October 30, 1956 the state constituent assembly adopted a constitution for the state declaring it a part of India. But soon, on January 14, 1957, the United Nations passed another resolution stating that such actions would not constitute a final disposition of the state. India’s Home Minister G. B Pant during his visit to Kashmir, for the first time, declared Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India shattering all the promises which the Indian Union and Pandit Nehru had made with Kashmiri people.
By 1961, the conflict resumed and the second Indo-Pak war was fought. After three weeks, the war ended with a UN facilitated ceasefire, and both the countries signed an agreement—the Tashkent Agreement. Both nations agreed to return to the status-quo ceasefire-line negotiated previously, and pledged to refrain from the use of force to resolve the dispute. After the Tashkent Agreement, both India and Pakistan signed the Shimla Agreement in 1972, which was not primarily concerned with the Kashmir dispute, but was nonetheless important. It stated that both the countries would resolve all the outstanding issues bilaterally, including that of Kashmir. From July 1972 onwards, the Shimla Agreement became the cornerstone of Indo-Pakistan relations though both have tended to give different interpretations to the Agreement at times.
After a few years of relative quiet, a widespread armed insurgency started in Kashmir with the controversial rigging of the 1987 election. Since 1987, the Kashmir dispute has claimed thousands of lives, mostly of innocent civilian Kashmiris. In the due course of time, both countries have attained the status of nuclear powers. The dialogue between the two stopped after 1987, as India took a different direction, saying that Pakistan should stop cross-border terrorism, while Pakistan denied that it is involved in any such activities. The hostilities between the two South Asian neighbors have left Kashmiri people to suffer. The dialogue between India and Pakistan resumed in 1999. The Indian Prime minister A.B. Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif signed the Lahore Accord in February 1999. The Accord reaffirmed the desire of both countries to settle the dispute on the Kashmir issue. However, the Lahore Accord held only until May 1997, both countries fought a small-scale war in Kargil between May and July 1997 and all the dialogues came to a halt. Shortly after the Kargil war, General Pervez Musharraf toppled the Nawaz government and became the military ruler of Pakistan. Musharraf and the Indian Prime Minister A.B.Vajpayee met at Agra in July 2001, but failed to produce any agreement on Kashmir dispute.
On July 24, 2000, the Hizbul Mujahideen, largest militant outfit operating in Kashmir, announced a unilateral ceasefire and publicly expressed a willingness to initiate talks with the Government of India. The Government of India responded positively to the offer. The people of Jammu and Kashmir enthusiastically welcomed the development. But soon after a few days, on August 9, 2000, Hizbul Mujahideen announced its withdraw from the ceasefire. The reason for withdrawal, according to the group, was unwillingness on India’s part to involve Pakistan in the talks. Majid Dar, a leader of Hizbul Mujahideen in Srinagar, had made the offer of ceasefire. Syed Salahuddin, supreme commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, in Islamabad withdrew it.
On April 18, 2003, in Srinagar, Prime Minister Vajpayee made his own overture to Musharraf. By May, India had agreed to re-establish diplomatic ties with Islamabad, and by October, some road and rail links were resumed between the two countries. India also made an important concession by agreeing to open a line of dialogue with the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, whereas talks with Kashmiri groups had previously been denied outright. On November 26, a ceasefire offered by Pakistan to India went into effect in Kashmir territory. The year 2004 began with renewed dialogue between Musharraf and Vajpayee at a summit meeting of the South Asian nations. The then Indian National Security Advisor, Brajesh Mishra, in an interview said, “It is a victory for peace and prosperity for the people of India and Pakistan and South Asia. In my view, it’s a win-win situation for all of us.”
In 2004, the Government of India for the first time invited the Hurriyat Conference for a roundtable discussion on the Kashmir issue. However, the Hurriyat Geelani group (G) refused to enter into any summit until India accepted Kashmir as a disputed territory and not its integral part. But the other faction, the Hurriyat Mirwaiz group (M), accepted to enter into the dialogue. Hurriyat leaders went to Delhi for talks with the Government of India to resolve Kashmir issue. The first round of talks was held on January 22, and the second on March 27. However, both the sessions produced little more than photo shoots. Critics in Kashmir lampooned the talks as encounters between a shopkeeper who had no desire to sell and a customer who had no money to spend. After two rounds of discussions were held, the Hurriyat stopped pursuing the dialogue process with India without going into the third round, questioning the sincerity of India in the processes.
In May 2006, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh invited the Hurriyat Conference for talks on the Kashmir dispute. The Prime Minister and the Hurriyat agreed to establish a system to discuss solutions to the dispute over Kashmir dating from the partition of the Indian subcontinent in the late 1940s. Hurriyat (M) came up with a list of preconditions for the resumption of talks between the two sides that India rejected. In a statement to the press, Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “I am hopeful that a process will restart and yield results fast if India releases prisoners, gradually withdraws troops and repeals the black laws,” referring to draconian laws giving security forces expanded powers against insurrection.
However, the Hurriyat boycotted the May 2006 round table conference in Srinagar, which pro-India leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, and the Prime Minister of India attended.
In between these years back-channel political discussions were going on between India and Pakistan. However, none of them has been fruitful. The New Yorker on March 2, 2009 reported that for several years, special envoys from Pakistan and India had been holding talks in hotel rooms in Bangkok, Dubai, and London. Musharraf and Manmohan Singh had encouraged the negotiators to seek what some involved called a “paradigm shift” in relations between the two nations. The agenda included a search for an end to the long fight over Kashmir, a contest that is often described by Western military analysts as a potential trigger for atomic war.
On May 2, 2009, Dr. Manmohan Singh revealed that, “Gen Musharraf and I had nearly reached an agreement, a non-territorial solution to all problems but then Gen Musharraf got into many difficulties with the chief justice and other forces and therefore the whole process came to a halt”. Pervez Musharraf proposed a four-point plan to resolve the Kashmir problem. In an hour-long interview over Pakistan Television, he said that the first stage should involve a dialogue at the highest level between the two countries and that the process of his invitation to Agra should be maintained with similar talks. The second stage required an agreement on the centrality of Kashmir as the main issue between India and Pakistan. In the third step, both sides would have to eliminate all the formulas not acceptable to each other. The last step is the discussion on the actual solution. In June 2009, Musharraf said he had convinced the entire leadership in Kashmir, except hardliner Ali Shah Gilani, about his four-point formula that envisaged demilitarization and joint control of the region.