Students have read about the cultural geography of south Asia and the dispute between India and Pakistan over the territory of Kashmir. In this lesson they will study more in-depth the issues surrounding the Kashmir conflict.
Students will use information from the Flashpoint Kashmir: Special Report Web site of BBC News to learn more about the Kashmir conflict. They will read about the various factions involved in the dispute, the impact that terrain and climate have on the conflict, and the role of religion in shaping the issues. Students will answer four questions and will then use what they have learned to write an essay about the disputed territory of Kashmir.
- Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the issues surrounding the conflict in Kashmir.
- Students will use what they have learned to write an essay about the disputed territory of Kashmir.
Applied Content Standards
Standard 6: The geographically informed person knows and understands how culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.
Standard 10: The geographically informed person knows and understands the characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.
Standard 13: The geographically informed person knows and understands how the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's surface.
Standard 15: The geographically informed person knows and understands how physical systems affect human systems.
Student Web Activity Answers
- The Line of Control (LOC) is a demarcation line established in 1949 as a cease-fire line. It was reestablished in 1972. The line runs through mountainous terrain at an altitude of about 16,405 feet (5,000 m). The climate conditions are so extreme that the bitter cold claims more lives that the fighting.
- The Siachen glacier is located north of the Line of Control, at an altitude of 19,686 feet (6,000 m). The glacier is the highest battlefield on Earth. The air is so thin that the trajectory of artillery shells is unpredictable. Like conditions along the LOC, the bitter cold claims more lives than the fighting. Supplying troops on such a remote and inaccessible battlefield can be ruinously expensive for two developing countries. For example, only special helicopters can operate at the high altitude. Avalanches, altitude sickness, and hidden crevasses pose constant dangers to the soldiers.
In earlier negotiations, neither India nor Pakistan pressed for an agreement on a border demarcating the glacier. Some analysts say the lack of interest in establishing a border may have been because neither country thought the glacier's harsh inhospitable terrain was worth occupying. Others suggest the issue was avoided because it would have meant drawing a line to a part of Kashmir administered by China but claimed by India.
- Religion is an important aspect of the dispute. Pakistan is a Muslim country, a religion practiced by the majority of the Kashmir people. This common faith underpins Pakistan's claim to the entire Kashmir territory. The population of the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir (the state of Jammu and Kashmir) is over 60 percent Muslim, making it the only Indian state with a Muslim majority. There have been incidents of sectarian violence.
- Approximately two thirds of the Kashmir territory is controlled by India in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. About one third of the territory is administered by Pakistan, which refers to their area as "Azad" (Free) Kashmir. The population of Jammu and Kashmir is around 9 million inhabitants, while Azad Kashmir has about 3 million people.
- Students should discuss the three main factions in the conflict (the Indian government, the pro-Pakistan insurgents, and the pro-independence movement) and the various groups belonging to each faction. Proposals discussed on the site (such as a vote by the Kashmiri people to decide status, international mediation, and adopting the LOC as an international border) as well as any original solutions from the students should be addressed in the essay.
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