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What is the importance of Kashmir to India and Pakistan?

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Quick Answer

Pakistan considers Kashmir to be one of the most important territories in the country and believes that the ceding of it to India in 1947 was not fair to them. India regards Kashmir as its legal property and an important territory to the country.

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Full Answer

When Pakistan and India became independent from Britain in 1947, it was left up to the Maharaja of Kashmir to choose whether to become a part of India or Pakistan. He chose India in return for military aid and a referendum. Pakistan views the Maharaja as a tyrant who did not act in the interest of the people, however. Since the majority of Kashmir's population is Muslim and there was a longtime insurgency in the region, Pakistan believes that the will of the local people is to separate from India, while India believes the insurgency is propped up and funded by the Pakistani government. Both sides claim that human rights are being abused by the other.

Aside from territorial rights and questions of preferred government, the two countries also have disputes regarding the territory. Both countries rely on the Indus River for agriculture and electricity. As of 2014, three wars have been fought between the two countries over the territory, and there is a constant armed military presence.

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