This one is complex. There is no way I can see an essay being written on the topic without the embracing of different viewpoints on an issue that has been the crux of modern Indian and Pakistani development. Kashmir is a region of India whose roots reflected the heterogeneous nature of India. It is an area where Buddhists and Hindus call their spiritual home. The Kashmiri region is where the Buddhist seat of learning is located, and holds much relevance in terms of significance for Hindu pandits and sages. At the same time, the region had been under Muslim rule, a setting where the prevailing Sufi vision of Islam had complemented Hindu worship in a setting of penultimate tolerance and acceptance. While this might simplify the extraordinarily complex history of the region, for the most part, there was a sense of religious tolerance and intercultural mix within its setting:
The Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu (as it was then called) was constituted between 1820 and 1858 and was "somewhat artificial in composition and it did not develop a fully coherent identity, partly as a result of its disparate origins and partly as a result of the autocratic rule which it experienced on the fringes of Empire.
Such as with many territorial issues between India and Pakistan, this one revolves around Partition. The concept of Partition was driven by the belief (mistaken, some might say) of political leaders that the Indian subcontinent could be easily and arbitrarily divided with Hindu majorities residing in India and the Muslim majorities living in a new nation called Pakistan. With the diverse nature of Kashmir, this was going to pose problems, and it did. The princely rulers of Kashmir were given the option to decide where they would have their nation go. This decision proved to be as equally disastrous as the decision to partition the subcontinent up in such a mathematical manner:
As parties to the partition process, both countries had agreed that the rulers of princely states would be given the right to opt for either Pakistan or India or—in special cases—to remain independent. Kashmir's population was overall 77 per cent Muslim but with internal areas of non-Muslim majority. It shared a boundary with both India and Pakistan. Pakistan anticipated that the Maharajah would accede to Pakistan, when the British paramountcy ended on 14-15 August. When he hesitated to do this, Pakistan launched a guerrilla infiltration meant to frighten its ruler into submission.
The appeal to Lord Mountbatten resulted in Indian forces driving out the Pakistani insurgents. Yet, the political legacy was that Muslims were perceived as the problem, making the regional declaration of Kashmir one fraught with political thorns and complexity. Indians were convinced that Pakistani terrorists were being housed in Kashmir, resulting in some of the most gruesome human rights violations. The citizens of Pakistan were outraged that fellow Muslims were being "held hostage" by a Hindu nation. The continual challenge of where Jammu and Kashmir will go, if anywhere, is clouded with charges of terror campaigns being obscured by the claims of a fight for freedom and sovereignty. In the end, neither nation has been able to assert a political and humanitarian case of Kashmir, leaving this once cradle of Indian civilization and home of the Gods to utter chaos and ruptured bonds.