I just got this from the Preface of a book I begun to read, " Kashmir in Conflict" by Virginia Schofield (decide to update my understanding)
What distinguishes the Kashmir conflict from other regional disputes is that, in order to effect the ceasefire, in 1948 the Indian government made a formal complaint to the Security Council of the United Nations against Pakistan’s ‘aggression’. The complaint against Pakistan in an international forum turned a dispute between two countries into an issue which demanded international attention. The recommendations of the United Nations, formulated into three resolutions passed in 1948 and 1949, also formalised the presence of a third party into the debate: the wishes of the people who lived in the land over which India and Pakistan were fighting. All three resolutions recommended that India and Pakistan should proceed with holding a plebiscite, as already agreed by the Governments of India and Pakistan, so that the people themselves could decide their future.
That the plebiscite was never held should perhaps be no surprise. Firstly as a prerequisite, Pakistan was required to withdraw its forces from the territory which they had occupied. Secondly, it was clear that the Indian government only agreed to hold a plebiscite at a time when it was confident that the majority would confirm union with India. In the event, Pakistan’s reluctance to vacate the territory it had occupied gave India the excuse to renege on its commitment to hold a plebiscite; the de facto divison of the state which India
and Pakistan had achieved militarily was therefore neither reversed nor confirmed. But although successive Indian governments may have regretted the fact that an international body was ever involved in discussing the future of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the UN resolutions remain on the agenda. Whatever India or Pakistan may have subsequently agreed between themselves at later summits – Tashkent in 1966, Simla in 1972 and Lahore in 1999 – the
tripartite nature of the issue, with the plebiscite as a means of determining the political allegiance of the inhabitants of the state, was already confirmed by the United Nations in 1948.
But, as Sir Owen Dixon, UN representative for India and Pakistan, noted in 1950, the difficulty of resolving the future of the state was compounded by the fact that it was ‘not really a unit geographically, demographically or economically’ but ‘an agglomeration of territories brought under the political power of One Maharaja.’ On the Pakistani-administered side of the ceasefire line, the peoples of the Northern Areas, including the former kingdoms of Hunza, Nagar, Gilgit and Baltistan, are culturally distinct not only from each other, but from the inhabitants in the rest of the state; so too are the people of
Azad Jammu and Kashmir, centred on the districts of Kotli, Poonch, Mirpur and Muzaffarabad. All are Muslim, but whereas Shia Muslims predominate in the Northern Areas, Sunnis are in the majority in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. In the two-thirds of the territory administered by India, the majority of the valley’s inhabitants are Kashmiri Muslims, with a small percentage of Hindus and Sikhs. In Jammu approximately two-thirds of the population are Hindu,
one-third Muslims, who live primarily in the Doda and Rajauri areas bordering Pakistani-administered AJK. Ladakh is sparsely populated. Over half its population are Buddhist, less than half are Shia Muslim with a small percentae of Hindus. What Owen Dixon noticed from the outset was that with peoples of such diverse origins nominally united under one political authority, whatever the outcome of a unitary plebiscite, there was bound to be disappointment from amongst the minority. He therefore suggested, as have future commentators, that a regional plebiscite might provide a more equitable outcome, even though it would undoubtedly lead to the division of the state. As the Indian writer, Sumantra Bose, has recognised, the challenge was always to find a middle ground between ‘communal compartmentalisation and the chimera of a non-existent oneness’