KASHMIR CONTINUES TO BE IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Since Aug 5, 2019, when the Govt of India announced its decision to do away with Article 370 and 35 A, the state of Jammu and Kashmir continues to hog the limelight at the national and international level; thanks to the United Nations General Assembly session that took place less than two months after the momentous decisions were taken.
Pakistan’s reaction right from the word go has been one of manufactured outrage, as if the announcements had in anyway altered the existing reality. The fact of the matter is that nothing had really happened that should have created an outrageous situation in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan went out of its way to incite its public through its jihadi organizations a massive public outcry at what was essentially an internal matter of India. It is quite surprising that Pakistan which, after annexing PoK by an unprovoked aggression on 22 Oct, 1947, had separated Northern Areas (now Gilgit-Baltistan) from the annexed territories and brought it directly under Rawalpindi’s rule. This territory has all along been governed from Pakistan’s federal capital, with the locals enjoying no political or legislative powers. Even the so called ‘Azad Kashmir’ did not have its Legislative Assembly till 1974. Even after establishing one, the legislature did not have any powers. Therefore, for Pakistan to cry foul, really makes no sense and is hypocrisy of the worst kind.
Article 370 should have been abrogated long back as it had been included in the ‘Temporary and Transient’ provisions of the Constitution by the founding fathers, who were convinced that this article was an aberration and went against the basic principles of people across the sovereign nation enjoying equal powers and privileges throughout its length and breadth . Besides, it was clear within the first decade of the State’s accession that Article 370 was creating a psychological barrier between the people of the state and rest of the country – a barrier which eventually gave rise to Pakistan’s deep involvement in Kashmir that eventually led to the Islamic uprising of 1989-90. But such had been Indian Politicians’ fixation with vote bank politics, that they refused to see the writing on the wall and projected the issue to mislead public opinion. In the process, they inflicted immense damaged on the politics and integrityof the nation. As far as the surreptitiously included article 35 A is concerned, it, in any case, stood on a weak wicket.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, the yester-year poster boy of fashion magazines and a flamboyant cricketer, and now a born-again Muslim, had gone to America to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly Session with a twin objective: to use this trip to America to project India as a villain in south Asia and in the absence of any intervention by a third party, to convince the world that constitutional changes brought about by India in J&K would lead to a nuclear war, which will have far-reaching consequences for the entire world. From day one of his arrival in America, he left no stone unturned to project India as having carried out a ‘genocide’ in Kashmir and ‘violated’ the human rights of 8 million Kashmiris. At the United Nations General Assembly, where he went on to speak for 50 minutes instead of the 15 minutes allotted, he indulged in a tirade against India that was unbecoming of a Prime Minister of a country. He threatened the world with the use of nuclear weapons if they were not willing to mediate in Kashmir. At other ‘Think Tanks’, foreign policy institutes, public platforms, etc., Imran Khan continued with the same refrain. His speeches were laced with jihadi rhetoric wherein he used the words like, ‘Kashmir, Modi, jihad, Muslim, nuclear, etc.,” so often that his speeches led to diminishing returns, as most of the media either ignored him or projected him as an alarmist. As far as the world was concerned, Imran himself accepted that Pakistan’s appeal had largely been ignored by the international community. Nevertheless, he announced on his return to Islamabad that he will launch ‘Jihad in Kashmir to please Allah’. India termed his conduct as ‘brinkmanship rather than statesmanship’.
Indian Prime Minister, Sh. Narendra Modi, on the other hand, while replying effectively to Imran Khan’s accusations, did not take the bait of confining himself to Kashmir and Pakistan. He spoke of issues which the world is grappling with for its very survival: environment, renewable energy, global warming, poverty alleviation, terrorism, international conflict resolution, trade, etc., etc. the icing on the cake of Modi’s visit, undoubtedly, was the Houston rally attended by nearly 60,000 Indian diaspora and many senators and Congressmen/women of America. The highlight of the Houston rally was that the President of America too was in attendance; something that happened for the first time in the history of Indo-American relations. It can safely be said that Pakistan lost the Diplomatic war and ended up projecting itself as an irresponsible nation. It must, however, be added that Turkey and Malaysia supported Pakistan on Kashmir issue, forcing Indian Prime Minister to have one-on-one meeting with Turkey’s rivals, Cyprus and Armenia. The fact is that Indian diplomatic offensive was in full gear while Narendra Modi was in the United States and India was able to convince the world that change brought about in the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir was purely an internal matter of India. India also succeeded in reinforcing its oft repeated stand on Kashmir, that it is a bi-lateral issue and India does not need any third-party intervention.
However, the Union Government faces huge challenges in Kashmir. Pakistan will try its best to execute a violent jihadi attack on a high-value target inside the state or in the rest of the country. It will also try its best to use the internet to have crowds collected for protests within the valley and egg them on to indulge in violence so that the security forces are forced to use their fire-arms, which in turn will enable Pakistan to project India in a bad light. India, therefore, has taken a decision to impose internet black out, so that the situation remains calm and Pakistan and its proxies in Kashmir do not get an opportunity to indulge in violent protest.
Under the circumstances, the next three to six months will be crucial as far as the post-370 abrogation situation in the valley is concerned.End