- India Pakistan Dispute over Kashmir (4-5 day lesson plan) Illustration

Lesson Plan

India / Pakistan
Dispute Over Kashmir

Multi-Unit Debate

Specific Topic: Students will debate the India/Pakistan dispute over Kashmir. Students will attempt to resolve the problem addressing all known areas.
Time Frame: 4-5 days,
90 minute periods
Written for Grade 9, can easily be adapted for grades 6-12

Background on the Conflict

Goals of the Debate/Roadblocks

Handout: Rules of Debate

Handout: Information Folders

Lesson One: Intro to Debate Challenge

Lesson Two: Sharing Information

Lesson Three: Preparing Position Papers

Lesson Four: Debate

Background on the Conflict Over Kashmir

For Students & Teachers

The Problem: Both India and Pakistan wish to control Kashmir.

Why do both India and Pakistan believe control of Kashmir is so important? The people of Kashmir are still tribal in nature. The geography is mostly rural, with fierce mountains, deserts, and valleys. Industry is undeveloped. If this region has natural resources such as oil or gold or silver in any quantity, this has not yet been discovered. Why the fuss?

  1. Control of the Indus River. The headwaters of the Indus River are located in Kashmir. Whomever controls the headwaters, controls the river. The Indus is vital. It brings green fertile life wherever it flows. The Indus begins in Kashmir, then flows through Pakistan, then flows into mainland India. If India chose, since Kashmir is part of India, they could dam the Indus and change the flow of the river. Without fertile land to grow crops, Pakistan would become a desert and its people would starve. Pakistan does not trust India, nor does India trust Pakistan. They will not share control of the Indus. They both want total control.

  2. Religious Sites. Both Pakistan and India have sites in Kashmir that are important to their respective religions.
    * Pakistan is predominately Muslim. Kashmir is predominately Muslim.
    * India is predominately Hindu.

  3. Strategic Location. For India, Kashmir acts as a buffer. For Pakistan, Kashmir offers a fertile roadway into India for possible invasion.

Who controls Kashmir today, and why? Approximately sixty years ago, Kashmir was offered a choice by the UN of becoming part of India, part of Pakistan, or becoming independent. To secure Kashmir for Pakistan, in what Muslim forces perceived to be a holy war, Pakistan invaded Kashmir. The ruler of Kashmir fled to India and agreed to place Kashmir under Indian rule if India would protect Kashmir from invasion. If there had been a vote in Kashmir, a vote by the people, the majority probably would have voted to become part of Pakistan for religious reasons. Since there was no vote, Pakistan has never accepted India's control of Kashmir. Pakistan believed then and still believes today that Kashmir should be part of Pakistan. However, for many years now, Kashmir has been part of India, just as Hawaii and California and Alaska are part of the United States.

The people of Kashmir have the same rights as any citizen in India. They have excellent schools. They have television. They have computer access just like the rest of India. Kashmir is predominately Muslim. Muslims only believe in Islamic learnings. Thus, although the people of Kashmir do not always use the benefits available to them, they are available.

War & Terrorism: Both India and Pakistan are convinced that they are right and that they will prevail if they continue their fight as they are doing, although this plan has not worked in six decades. In the past 60 years, Pakistan and India have fought three wars over ownership of Kashmir. India won all three. Today, the fight continues with acts of terrorism. The people of Kashmir are probably wondering why the UN won't help them and why the US won't help them. Why must they live with war and terror and what can be done?

Why doesn't the US lend a helping hand with the Kashmir conflict? The US wants to be friends with both Pakistan and India. That makes US involvement in this problem very difficult. On one hand, we have a treaty with Pakistan that says if they go to war with anyone, we will help them. We will honor that treaty. Pakistan shares a border with Afganistan. In our fight on terrorism, that border is most important, and Pakistan's help is critical. On the other hand, we don't want India mad at us. We do a great deal of trade with India that is mutually advantageous. But mostly, India is our friend. If Pakistan goes to war with India, we would have a really tough time with that. So, we try very hard not to get involved. We couldn't win.

Teacher Notes: Goal of the Debate

The goal of this debate is to show your students, given the positions of all parties involved, that debate can not solve this problem. With the teacher's help, nothing will be accomplished at the debate. However, the students will attempt to come up with solutions and they will try to successfully solve this problem and end the debate. You, as the teacher, must throw in roadblocks to prevent this from happening.

First, when the Debate stalls, which it will, ask: What are you willing to give up? The answer to that, really, is nothing. Neither country will give up their religion. They can't give up their water.

When your students come up with any or all of the following solutions, here are some roadblocks you can use.

  • Student Suggestion: Maybe Pakistan could buy Kashmir.
    Teacher Response: It's not about money, although perhaps it's about something money could buy - food. India has the 2nd largest population in the world. They are very crowded. Kashmir has fertile valleys that could produce a lot of food. At the moment they're not producing a lot of food, but they could. India's planners see this potential and want it to feed their population. India is not about to sell or to give away Kashmir. They need it.

  • Student Suggestion: Maybe all the Muslims could move to Pakistan or the Hindus and Sikhs could move to mainland India.
    Teacher Response: People don't want to give up the homes they have lived in for thousands of years. Their life is there. If you try to make them move, you'll start a rein of terror instead of ending one.

  • Student Suggestion: How about a shared government?
    Teacher Response: Pakistan, of course, wants to protect their country and their people. But India refuses to share control of the Indus or of Kashmir.

  • Student Suggestion: How about an Independent Kashmir? Or better yet, let the people decide.
    Teacher Response: Great. Let's ask the people of Kashmir what they want. (Teacher represents the people of Kashmir.) You would probably start a civil war, whatever the outcome of the vote. And if the US helped to set up a vote, the US would risk insulting our good friend India and our good friend Pakistan, which is something the US is not eager to do. But it's a mute point. India is not about to give up Kashmir.

At this point, your students will probably be pretty much convinced that the problem is India. India is not willing to share, thus they are the culprit. When your students say so, which they will, then bring up examples of what the US government has and would do in similar situations in the US.

  • Say: The US fought a Civil War (Northern War of Aggression, War Between the States) when the south wanted to set up their own country. The south had the food. The north had the industry. You need both to be strong. The US did not allow the south to leave, just as India will not allow Kashmir to leave.

  • Ask: What if Canada announced that they wanted Alaska to be part of Canada because they wanted to control the oil Alaska produces? Would the US say - look at the geography. That's so sensible. (No way.)

  • Ask: What if the residents of San Diego, a major seaport in California, voted to become part of Mexico by an overwhelming 80% majority? Would the US government say okay? (No way.)

CLOSE THE DEBATE: Say: Given the attitudes of the leaders of India, Pakistan, and Kashmir, if you could get these leaders to the debate table today, do you believe a debate would accomplish anything? (The answer, of course, is unfortunately no.)

Lesson One: Introduction to Debate Challenge

  • Students will understand the rules of a debate (as they apply to middle and/or high school)

  • Students will identify some core items that contribute to the main problem

  • Students will compile notes on one aspect of the India/Pakistan conflict.

Daily Question: Students will enter the room to a question posted "What is a debate?". After allowing a short period of time for students to come up with an answer, the teacher will lead the class in a discussion about what a debate is (approximately 5-10 minutes.)

Handout Rules of Debate (for high school): Once the class has reached a consensus, the teacher will hand out a copy of the debate rules for high school and ask the class to read these rules aloud. As the rules are read, the teacher will ensure that they are understood by asking clarifying questions (approximately 15 minutes.) Click here for Rule of Debate.

Handout Information Folders: The teacher will then divide the class up into 5 small groups with 5-6 students in each group. Each group will be given a folder with one of the following titles: Conflicts, Military, Demographics, Treaties/Peace Plans, Government. Each of these folders will contain collected information about that specific topic for each country. Each folder will have in it an essential question for that area of expertise. Click here for a list of essential questions.

Begin Research: Students will be instructed to answer these questions for each country (India and Pakistan) from the information they already possess, the information in the folders, information in their textbook, and from any other source available to them.

They will be informed that they will be briefing the rest of the class on their area of expertise. Each student will be briefing a different small group on the following class day (allowing the rest of the class period for research.)

Lesson Two: Sharing Information

  • Students will present in a small group setting sharing information that they have compiled.

  • Students will transcribe this information and compile notes on the conflict.

  • Students will integrate the information with information already in their possession into a picture of the entire problem.

Daily Question: Students will enter class to the posted question "Why does the U.S.A. care if India and Pakistan fight over Kashmir?" Allow a couple of minutes for students to answer, and then discuss this question.

Finish Research: Break the students back into small groups to finish research. Allow about 10-15 minutes for students to finish up.

Group Activity: Rearrange small groups so that one member of each original small group is in the new small group. Have each person within the group brief the rest of the group on their area of expertise. Allow 25-30 minutes for this activity. (Each student has 5 minutes to brief the group.)

Class Activity: Bring the class back into one large group. Ask if there are any questions remaining. Allow students to answer all questions.

Lesson Three: Preparing Position Papers

Daily Question: Students will enter class to the posted question "What is so important about Kashmir?" Allow students time to discuss and answer question (5-10 minutes.)

Group Activity: First, break the class into two large groups. Designate one group India and the other Pakistan.

Then, within each group, break them into three smaller groups. Designate each of the smaller groups "Position Paper", "Questions/Options", and "Solutions". These small groups will interact, advising and helping as needed to support their country, and will have the following jobs:

Position Paper Group will write a position paper for their country. This position paper will be read aloud at the opening of the debate and will address these questions:

a. What does your country want?

b. What are you doing to get it?

c. Where are you willing to compromise?

Question/Options Group will prepare a paper with options that are available to their own country. They will also develop several questions that they would like to ask the other country.

Research Group will meet with the research group from the other country and try to find ways to solve the problem. Their research group will get options from the options group, present them to the other country and get an answer. If an agreement is reached, each will turn to their respective position group to see if that agreement meets their country's position, and then write a position paper for their country.

Lesson Four: Debate

The teacher will have the classroom arranged so that the two large groups are facing each other.

Teacher and class will go over the rules for debate again. (Click here for Rules of Debate)

Teacher will advise the class that their assignment is to reach a negotiated solution to the conflict.

  • Each country group will first read their prepared position statement.

  • Each group will then be allowed (alternating) to ask questions of the other group.

  • Each group will be expected to answer these questions in a realistic and polite manner.

  • Suggestions and proposals will then be submitted to the group, looking for a consensus from all involved parties.

Close the Debate: Say: Given the attitudes of the leaders of India, Pakistan, and Kashmir, if you could get these leaders to the debate table, do you believe a debate would accomplish anything?

Handout: Information Folders
(The teacher will need to prepare 5 folders.)

Each group will be given a folder with one of the following titles: Conflicts, Military, Demographics, Treaties/Peace Plans, Government. Each folder will have in it an essential question for that area of expertise. Folders will contain collected information about that specific topic (folders have different information) or general information including information on these five specific topics for each country (all folders have the same information.) It is each group's job to sort through the information available to them to find the answer to their respective essential question.

Essential Questions

  1. Conflicts: How have these two countries resolved conflicts and what are some of their previous conflicts?

  2. Military: What influence does the military hold in each country and does the military want a peaceful solution?

  3. Demographics: What pressure does population demographics put on these respective governments?

  4. Treaties/Peace Plans: Why have previous treaties/peace plans failed?

  5. Government: How does each government view the other and how do they view Kashmir?

Handout: Rules of Debate

Instruction: Provide each group with your rules for debate. You can use Rules of Formal Debate if you wish or personalize rules to fit your kids. The Rules listed below are the rules I gave my kids. You will probably receive quite a few questions on this handout. Students need to understand that whether or not they are in agreement with the side on which they placed, they must debate for their side, and not be sidetracked by their personal opinion, pro or con.

Rules of This Debate:

  1. This will be a formal debate.

  2. You may not be in personal agreement with the position you are defending. Your job is to defend it anyway.

  3. There will be no name calling, insults, rudeness or disrespect. Any of the proceeding will result in an automatic disqualification for that team.

  4. The teacher (or other authority figure) will be the judge giving points for
    Significant and relevant points raised in the argument.
    Strong, direct & relevant points raised in the rebuttal.

  5. Rebuttals must be based on fact, you cannot say to your opponent that they are "wrong". You must say things like:
    * The Representative from India makes a good point. However ....
    * Your argument about (whatever) does not agree with the facts. (State the fact to which you are referring.)

  6. Each country group will first read their prepared position statement.

  7. Each group will then be allowed (alternating) to ask questions of the other group. Each group will be expected to answer these questions in a realistic and polite manner.

  8. Suggestions and proposals will then be submitted to the group, looking for a consensus from all involved parties.

For units and learning modules on other debates
and debating, see Debates

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