Indian leaders' standard line is that Kashmir is "an integral part" of India. InIndia and Pakistan fought their second of three major wars since over Kashmir. The United States was largely to blame for setting the stage for war. The cease-fire three weeks later was not substantial beyond a demand that both sides put down their arms and a pledge to send international observers to Kashmir. Pakistan renewed its call for a referendum by Kashmir's mostly Muslim population of 5 million to decide the region's future, in accordance with a UN resolution.

India continued to resist conducting such a plebiscite. The war, in sum, settled nothing and merely put off future conflicts. Read more about the Second Kashmir War. With the rise to power of Muhammad Zia ul Kashmir the dictator was president of Pakistan from toPakistan began its slump toward Islamism. Zia saw in Islamists a mean of consolidating and maintaining his power. By patronizing the cause of anti-Soviet Mujahideens in Afghanistan beginning inZia curried and won Washington's favor--and tapped into massive quantities of cash and weaponry the United States channeled through Zia to feed the Afghan insurgency.

Zia had insisted that he be the conduit of arms and weaponry. Washington conceded. Zia diverted large amounts of cash and weaponry to two pet projects: Pakistan's nuclear-weapons program, and developing an Islamist fighting force that would subcontract the fight against India in Kashmir.

Zia largely succeeded at both. He financed and protected armed camps in Afghanistan that trained militants who'd be used in Kashmir. And he supported the rise of a hard-core Islamist corps in Pakistani Madrassas and in Pakistan's tribal areas that would exert Pakistan's influence in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The corps' name: The Taliban.

Thus, the political and militant ramifications of recent Kashmiri history are intimately connected with the rise of Islamism in northern and western Pakistan, and in Afghanistan. Tensions over Kashmir rose dangerously in fallforcing then-Secretary of State Colin Powell to de-escalate tensions Kashmir person.

Throughout the rest of the 14th century and into subsequent times, Muslim dynasties and empires successfully controlled the Kashmir region. By the 19th century, though, Kashmir was passed to the Sikh armies that were conquering the area. Beginning in at the end of England's rule of India, the Kashmir region was given the choice to become a part of the new Union of India, the Dominion of Pakistan or to remain independent.

Around this same time, however, both Pakistan and India attempted to gain control of the area and the Indo-Pakistani War of began which lasted until when the region was partitioned. Two more wars over Kashmir took place in and Today, Kashmir is divided among Pakistan, India and China.

Pakistan controls the northwestern part, while India controls the central and southern portions and China controls its northeastern areas. India controls the largest portion of land at 39, square milessq km while Pakistan controls an area of 33, square miles 85, sq km and China 14, square miles 37, sq km. The Kashmir region has a total area of about 86, square milessq km and much of it is undeveloped and dominated by large mountain ranges such as the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges.

The Vale of Kashmir is located between mountain ranges and there are also several large rivers in the region. The most populated areas are Jammu and Azad Kashmir.

Kashmir has a varied climate but in its lower elevations, summers are hot, humid and dominated monsoonal weather patterns, while winters are cold and often wet. In the higher elevations, summers are cool and short, and winters are very long and very cold. Kashmir's economy is mostly made up of agriculture that takes place Kashmir its fertile valley areas. However, safety depends a lot on what tourists do and where they go, so whether you should visit Kashmir really depends upon your personal comfort level.

It is advised to make some local contacts before you get to Kashmir, such as with a reputable homestay or other accommodations where the owner or host is personally involved with guests. Tourists can Kashmir connect with a well-known local tour guide who only leads them to safe areas.

Scams in India include taxi drivers offering money to export jewels and carpets; refuse any offer. You may also receive invitations for cheap accommodation or transportation, extended taxi Kashmir, and unwanted tours. Beware of inauthentic tour guide services and train tickets, or ATMs that have been tweaked so thieves can copy your bank card details. Those traveling alone in Kashmir are advised to refrain Kashmir walking around at night and avoid the high-crime areas around the inner parts of the city where unrest takes place.

You should steer clear of secluded spots and unfamiliar surroundings. Exploring with travelers from your hotels or other accommodations can create a safer adventure as well. People from Kashmir are quite hospitable, so should an emergency occur, you could look to them to guide you to safety.

Foreign females are often stared at in India, and there is a growing risk of rape. Sexual aggression, serious assault, verbal abuse, and harassment also take place, as may groping. Avoid using public transportation, taxis, and auto-rickshaws when alone and especially at night.

Stay in populated and well-lit areas. If you feel unsafe, contact the local police. There is a helpline for women reached by dialing

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