What is Article 370?

By Nasir Mahmood

In 1947 British Colonial rule came to an end in the Subcontinent. Two separate nations were formed Pakistan & India. The partition as it is known was based on principle that all Muslim majority areas will be part of Pakistan and Hindu majority areas will become part of India. However, British left the issue of Kashmir unresolved. It was a Muslim dominated princely state ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh. The Maharaja decided to join India against the will of his people and the principles of the partition. He then negotiated a special provision which was added to India’s constitution providing autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. Article 370 as it is known allows the state of Kashmir to have its own constitution, flag and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defence and communications. One more provision later added under Article 370 was 35A. The 35A provides special privileges to original and permanent residents, including state government jobs and the exclusive right to own property in Kashmir. It was protecting the state’s distinct demographic character as the only Muslim-majority state in India.

It is pertinent to further research that India is the only country in South Asia which has border disputes with majority of its neighbours including China, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar and irregular border issues with Bhutan, India is the only country in South Asia which has sent its forces in neighbouring countries including Sri Lanka 1987 to 1990, East Pakistan now Bangladesh 1970-1971. Indian army invaded and occupied Kashmir in 1949. In Bhutan making it effectively a ‘protectorate’ of India. It has history of illegal interference in internal matters of Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

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