No more than a cry over spilled milk
Time and again, Narendra Modi has proved his penchant for unpopular decisions. The RSS follower, despite his fanatic ideals, has attracted the majority of the 1.3 billion Indian population to vote for him, second time more vehemently than the first time. Using Hindutva and anti-Pakistan sentiments to his advantage in the religiously divisive social structure of India, Modi has effectively put the lives of millions in jeopardy for the second time in one year alone.
Earlier, the motive was clear; the stakes for the BJP were high as it faced criticism for its economic policies during its tenure, and the alleged scam in the Rafale deal with France in the wake of the general elections. What conspired for India’s hasty abrogation of the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is unclear, despite it being one of Modi’s election promises.
In July, during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the United States, President Donald Trump clearly stated that he had been requested by the Indian premier to mediate on the Kashmir issue. The timeline Trump referred to was from the meeting ofthe heads of states in Osaka during the G-20 summit. New Delhi was quick in issuing a denial of any such request, stressing that Kashmir was a bilateral issue and would be discussed between the two countries only. But the developments that followed suggest that Trump’s statement was not out of the blue, and New Delhi was clear in its motives, and probably certain that in such a case, the USA would support the Indian side of the argument.
Did India anticipate the warmth with which Khan was received in Washington? Does the Pakistani leadership’s welcome in the US have anything to do with the hasty revocation of Kashmir’s special status? That is another question that might not remain unanswered for long.
Suppose, India did not expect Pakistan to regain its status in the region; in that case, another theory could be India’s frustration with the way things unfolded in the past few weeks. Pakistan has, time and again, presented undeniable evidences of Indian involvement in creating instability in Balochistan. India, for decades, has provided moral and financial support to Baloch separatist movements. With the USA declaring the Baloch Liberation Army-one of India’s major proxies in the region-a terrorist organisation, Pakistan successfully merging the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and conducting elections there, flushing away another Afghan and Indian propaganda of a ‘greater Pukhtoonistan’, the frustration level would sure be high.
To add to that, Pakistan being given the role of mediator in Afghan peace process in the wake of USA’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is a blow for India. India, through its efficient lobbying and astute diplomacy, had convinced the USA that it was the only force to counter China’s rising influence in the region, and hence should be supported in its endeavours in Afghanistan against China’s ally, Pakistan. The USA, seeking support from Pakistan on a matter as close to the pulse of India as Afghanistan, is a huge setback for India. It was crucial that the attention be diverted from the issue, and Pakistan be engaged on another front to tone down its enthusiasm on Afghan peace process.
Pakistan’s failure to come with a clear and timely line of action forecasting India’s intentions is what will haunt the current civilian and military leadership in the days to come
Trump’s offer of mediating on the Kashmir issue in the current scenario can also be utilised to derive sureties that India’s interests in Afghanistan remain secure amid Pakistan’s increased role in the process. On the other hand, the USA can pressurise Pakistan to cooperate beyond its means in exchange for a vague assurance of mediating on Kashmir, as has been the history.
However, what remains the most baffling aspect of the whole fiasco is the unpreparedness of Pakistan for the development despite the nature of the reports coming from Kashmir since the beginning of August. Local and international media was abuzz with Modi government’s intentions of abrogating the special status for Kashmir. Speculating that, Pakistan having a claim to the state should have been proactive in taking into confidence the Organisation of Islamic Countries, major Muslim powers such as the Gulf countries, Turkey and Malaysia, and regional powers, Russia and China, to warn India against any unilateral moves regarding the fate of the state.
Despite India’s insistence on portraying Kashmir as an internal issue or to have a partial agreement to solve it through bilateral negotiations, it was India who took the matter to the United Nations Security Council, which has since passed several resolutions in order to find peaceful solutions to the issue. Pakistan displayed a lack of commitment in taking any preemptive measures to bring the issue in the notice of the UNSC. It was rather disappointing to find Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshistating that the government was not prepared for what appears to be a hasty decision on India’s part, only a day after the National Security Council’s meeting centred around India’s aggression on the Line of Control.
Pakistan’s failure to come with a clear and timely line of action forecasting India’s intentions is what will haunt the current civilian and military leadership in the days to come, while Narendra Modi celebrates his victory over the blood of hundreds and thousands of Kashmiris. The claim that India can never win the hearts of Kashmiris sounds hollow as it remains a fact that Pakistan’s unpreparedness has cost Kashmiris not just their land but also the soul their generations have laid their lives to save for the past seven decades.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.