Kashmir May Be an Old Crisis at the UN, but the World Is Now Riveted

7 min readAug 19, 2019

by Barbara Crossette. This article originally appeared on PassBlue.

A familiar refrain often heard when the burgeoning crisis in Kashmir rises to the top of the news is that this is an old story from long ago; we have moved on. The United Nations is discovering, however, that there is less tolerance for indifference since India’s decrees on Aug. 5–6 to singlehandedly remake the politics and geography of a region still disputed internationally.

Imran Khan, Pakistan Prime Minister, addresses a crowd
In Parliament on Aug. 6, 2019, Imran Khan, Pakistan’s leader, called the move by Narendra Modi of India to end the special status of Kashmir “racist.” The UN Security Council met on Aug. 16 to debate the crisis.

Attitudes have changed as the world has changed. For the first time in more than seven decades, the issue has returned to the UN emphatically.

In 1947, when independent India and Pakistan were created out of colonial British India, China was on the verge of an earth-shaking Communist victory. Russia was emerging from a catastrophic war that killed an estimated 26 million soldiers and civilians. The UN was just two years old, still debating and writing the international rules.

In South Asia, the towering leaders of the Indian independence movement were beginning to frame a democratic constitution committed to secularism and equality under the law, while Pakistan was struggling to build a nation on the military frontier of the disintegrating British empire.

In 2019, more than 70 years later, the Eurasian landscape is very different: China, holding immense international power and influence, is facing a pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong that has brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets.

In Russia, where Vladimir Putin has been attempting to re-create an imperial age, the government has been arresting hundreds of protesting citizens who have a different vision for their future.

Despite these challenges, China and Russia have entered the UN debates over Kashmir but on divergent sides of the issue.

The two largest South Asian nations, India and Pakistan, have moved in new political directions that have not been fully tested or judged. The crisis in Kashmir, where at least four million people, mostly Muslims and some Sikhs, have been living under a suffocating Indian military occupation, has turned an international spotlight on a Hindu nationalist government willing to defy…


Independent Coverage the United Nations. A project of The New School’s Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs, supported by the Carnegie Corporation.