Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States and the champion of the Emancipation Proclamation, in his most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address delivered  on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863 crafted the famous line: '...Government of the people, by the people, for the people...'. This iconic line finds its roots in the oratory skills of the most prominent and influential Greek statesman, orator and general of Athens, Pericles who used similar terms in his annual funeral oration for the dead in the Peloponnesian wars.

Lincoln reiterated the single most important aspect of democracy and state – the will of the people or "popular sovereignty" – the principle that the authority of a state and its government is created and sustained by the consent of its people, through their elected representatives (Rule by the People), who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with social contract philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The people have the final say in government decisions. Benjamin Franklin expressed the concept when he wrote: "In free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns".

Popular sovereignty in its modern sense, is an idea that dates to the social contracts school (mid-17th to mid-18th centuries), represented by Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), John Locke (1632-1704), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), author of The Social Contract, a prominent political work that clearly highlighted the ideals of "general will" and further matured the idea of popular sovereignty. The central tenet is that the legitimacy of rule or of law is based on the consent of the governed. Popular sovereignty is thus a basic tenet of most Republics. Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau were the most influential thinkers of this school, all postulating that individuals choose to enter into a social contract with one another, thus voluntarily giving up some of their natural freedom in return for protection from dangers derived from the freedom of others. Whether men were seen as naturally more prone to violence and rapine (Hobbes) or cooperation and kindness (Rousseau), the idea that a legitimate social order emerges only when the liberties and duties are equal among citizens binds the social contract thinkers to the concept of popular sovereignty.

Republics and popular monarchies are theoretically based on popular sovereignty. In fact, however, "the will of the people" is a legal and political fiction. Real people do have real desires and real values. And when the state ignores them and oppresses them, that oppression is real too. Christopher Snedden's book ‘Kashmir: The Unwritten History’ documents such oppression of the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir with special emphasis on the Pakistan-administered Kashmir, popularly known as Azad Kashmir. Snedden, an Australian politico-strategic analyst, author and academic specializing in South Asia, provides an alternative history to the Kashmir dispute, locating its origins not in the invasion of Pukhtoon tribesmen from Pakistan, as India and Pakistan have consistently claimed, but in protests in Poonch and Mirpur by people long disenchanted with Maharaja Hari Singh’s brutal rule. The people of Poonch and Mirpur eventually ‘liberated’ themselves from the Maharaja’s accuracy and despotism and formed the government of Azad Kashmir in October, before the king acceded to India in 1947.

Now, this definitely shifts focus in the Kashmir dispute from the popular narrative about 'Pakhtun marauders who bolted east after Partition to try to secure more land for the Pakistani state'. In Jacob Steiner's Dawn article of 4 August 2013, reviewing Snedden's book, he states quoting Snedden that "...Unable to fend off India's accusations, Pakistan acquiesced in India's tactic of defining all troublemakers in J&K as raiders and blaming all of J&K's internal problems on them." According to Snedden, Pakistan did so by "failing to do three things." Among them was not publicising the Muslim uprising in Poonch and the anti-Muslim violence in occupied Kashmir. Chiefly, however, "Pakistan failed to grant de jure recognition to the Azad Kashmir government. As it lacked legitimacy in Pakistani eyes, the new government's ability to promote itself as the only true representative of the people of J&K was severely hindered. […] J&K was part of the strategic game Pakistan was playing with India in 1947-48 to obtain the three contested princely states of J&K, Junagadh and Hyderabad. Karachi did not want to jeopardise its position on J&K by supporting an unelected government in a part, while conversely seeking a plebiscite for all of J&K [and having already] rejected the unelected pro-Indian Provisional Government [in Junagadh]."

It was from this initial political impotence that Azad Kashmir developed and remains to this date in an extraordinary position, being de facto part of the Pakistani state, but officially a 'state' – that is, azad – in its own right, with its own government.

One thing stands out clearly: the will of the Poonch and Mirpur people had been throttled by brutality and they wanted out, hence the uprising. This long hidden and obscure fact in the Kashmir imbroglio emerges out of the painstaking research and underlines the consequences of ignoring and neglecting the real values and desires of real people and oppressing them. The Kashmiris, a non-martial people, resorted to violent means to be heard forty years later in the uprising of the late 80s. Snedden's observations are indeed wise – that India and Pakistan should devolve the dispute to the third party, who is actually the first party, because they instigated the dispute, and secondly because the dispute is over their lands and they should allow the people of Jammu and Kashmir to get together and talk, and determine what they want.

As Lincoln's speech reiterated: '...of the people, by the people, for the people...'