Why the surprise?
Despite his fanatical ideas, Narendra Modi – with his RSS ideology – has attracted a majority of the one billion Indian population to vote for him, the second time more vehemently than the first. 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 the 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 for the state of Jammu & Kashmir is unclear, despite it being one of Modi’s election promises.
In July this year, during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the United States, US President Trump clearly stated that he has been requested by the Indian premier to mediate on the Kashmir issue. The timeline Trump referred to was from the meeting of the heads of states at Osaka during the G-20 summit. New Delhi was quick in issuing a denial of any such requests, stressing that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and will 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 US would support the Indian side of the argument. Did India anticipate the warmth with which Khan was received in Washington and does the Pakistani leadership’s welcome there have anything to do with the hasty revocation of Kashmir’s special status? This is another question which 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. Pakistan has also successfully merged the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and conducted elections there. To add to it, Pakistan being given the role of mediator in the Afghan peace process in the wake of the US’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is a blow for India.
India through its efficient lobbying and astute diplomacy had convinced the US 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 US seeking support from Pakistan on a matter as close to the pulse of India as Afghanistan is a huge setback for the country and it was crucial that attention be diverted from the issue and Pakistan be engaged on another front to tone down the country’s enthusiasm on the Afghan peace process.
Trump’s offer of mediating on Kashmir in the current scenario can also be utilized to derive sureties that India’s interests in Afghanistan remain secure amid Pakistan’s increased role in the process. On the other hand, the US can pressurize Pakistan to cooperate beyond its means in exchange for a vague assurance of mediating on Kashmir, as has been the history.
However, what remain the most baffling aspect of the whole fiasco is the unpreparedness of Pakistan 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. Reports have also been talking about how, Pakistan having a claim to the state, should have been proactive in taking the Organization of Islamic Countries or major Muslim powers – the Gulf countries, Turkey and Malaysia – and regional powers like Russia and China in confidence 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 partial agreement to solve it through bilateral negotiations, it was India which took the matter to the United Nation’s Security Council, which has since passed several resolutions in order to find peaceful solutions to the issue.
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