Aug 29, 2019, 12.53 PM
Ever since the Union government decided to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and to divide the state into two Union territories – Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, all efforts have been made to restore full normalcy in Kashmir.
In turn, no major incident of mass protest or loss of life and property has so far been reported in the Valley. However, China and Pakistan have unsuccessfully tried to internationalise the issue.
True, Kashmir has been a major bone of contention between India and Pakistan since the Partition. But it is also a fact that the erstwhile state, including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), has been an undisputed part of India since 1947 when Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession, following the attack by Pakistan-sponsored tribesman.
Subsequently, the purpose of inserting temporary Articles 370 and 35 (A) was to expedite the process of integration of the state with the rest of India.
Sadly, over the last 70 years, these provisions, coupled with vested interests of regional political parties and separatist groups, the era of coalition politics and the Congress party’s half-hearted approach to address the Kashmir problem, have chocked developmental activities in Jammu & Kashmir.
While the Modi government’s decision has received overwhelming support in Parliament and outside, Pakistan is trying hard to project an alarming picture of Kashmir before the international community.
In doing so, the Imran Khan government has downgraded diplomatic ties with India by expelling Ajay Bisaria, India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan. Islamabad has also stopped bilateral trade and the Samjhauta Express, among other unilateral steps.
However, the fact remains that the international community’s reaction to the recent changes concerning Jammu & Kashmir has largely been in India’s favour.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, refused to intervene in the Kashmir matter, invoking the Shimla Agreement of 1972 that does not allow third-party mediation in this issue.
Russia has also endorsed the Modi government’s move, saying the abrogation of Article 370 is an internal affair of India. The US has said that both India and Pakistan should maintain restraint and hold direct talks to resolve the Kashmir issue while South Asian countries, including Bangladesh and Maldives, have backed India.
In a surprise development, the Taliban strongly criticised Pakistan for linking the increased tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi with the situation in Afghanistan. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahed said, “The issue of Afghanistan is not related to Kashmir,” and urged India and Pakistan not to turn Afghanistan into the “theatre of competition between other countries.”
The Taliban’s statement is very important for India: First, it shows the outfit’s desire to hold talks with New Delhi and second, the Taliban does not want to be seen as a puppet of Pakistan.
This, in turn, will help India protect its interests in Afghanistan, given the fact that over the years, New Delhi has invested over $3 billion in development activities in this country.
China is the only major country that has criticised India’s recent decision concerning Jammu & Kashmir. The reason for China’s criticism emerges from the fact that it enjoys a close relationship with Pakistan. Additionally, the Union territory of Ladakh also includes Aksai Chin, which is currently under China’s control.
In turn, India has re-emphasised its claim over this area. New Delhi would also be in a better position to effectively deal with any Pakistani and Chinese design, especially since the CPEC passes through this region.
With the Security Council refusing to interfere in the Kashmir issue, efforts towards accelerating development activities and strengthening democratic institutions should be a major priority for the government.
It will ensure that the people of Kashmir do not again fall into the trap of separatist groups and other vested interests in the Valley.
Author is Research Fellow, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata
While the Narendra Modi government’s decision has received overwhelming support in Parliament and outside, Pakistan is trying hard to project an alarming picture of Kashmir before the international community.