The Indian decision to change the status of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir has left the entire region in a political turmoil amid fears that it may lead to a military conflict if the world powers failed to play their role to ensure lasting peace and stability in the region. With entire Jammu and Kashmir placed under military siege with all communication services, including the internet and mobile phones, throttled, we are completely in the dark about what is happening there. But the world reaction to the Indian act seems nothing but ceremonial. A spokesperson for the US State Department, Ms Morgan Ortagus — though suggesting to India to engage in dialogue with the people affected by its (Monday’s) decision — said, “We note that the Indian government has described these actions as strictly an internal matter.” The reactions from the UN, the OIC and the Amnesty International were too timid to have any impact while Pakistan’s allies and friends in the Middle East and Gulf preferred to maintain silence. Even there is nothing so far from the EU, especially Britain, the original architect of the Kashmir tragedy.
However, reactions from India, in and outside its parliament, were even louder and more meaningful, with opposition leaders expressing their anguish and abhorrence about the uglier face of Indian democracy.
With a war ruled out, Pakistan is left with few options to take on India. It is showing utmost restraint and prudence in the face of provocations from India. The maximum it can do is to mobilise the world opinion through diplomatic channels to expose how India’s recent acts and deeds may destabilise the regional peace. Taking diplomatic initiative on Monday, PM Imran Khan spoke to Turkish President Tayyab Erdogan and Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad not only to garner their support but to apprise them of the dangerous consequences of the latest Indian decision to deprive Kashmir of its special constitutional status. However, what happened in Parliament on Tuesday must have sent a wrong message to the international community. The government and the opposition both failed to rise to the demands of the occasion and preferred to indulge in political point-scoring. A meaningful message came from the top brass of the Pakistan Army. A statement from the GHQ “fully supported the government’s rejection of Indian actions regarding Kashmir” and expressed the determination “to go to any extent to fulfil our obligations [to the Kashmiri people].” The Indian action has left Pakistan in a dilemma. Islamabad had since long opposed any constitutional mechanism to validate Indian sovereignty over Kashmir. Little did the opposition realise this intricacy when disputing the text of the joint resolution. However, the ISPR chief in a tweet said, “Pakistan never recognised the sham Indian efforts to legalise its occupation of Jammu and Kashmir through Article 370 or 35-A decades ago; efforts which have now been revoked by India itself.”
It is, however, rightly being feared that by doing away with the special status, the BJP intends to bring about a demographic change in J&K. In days to come, we may witness a Hindu population settling in the Valley depriving it of the Muslim-majority status. It would be a self-deception on the part of India that its latest constitutional manoeuverings with extensive military deployment could tame the fighting spirit of Kashmiri Muslims or it would bring peace to the territory in the near future. Bullets and guns have never been able to suppress the aspirations of people. You can kill people but not their dreams. More blood will spill in the freedom struggle that has seen hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris being killed during the last seven decades.
And finally with regard to Kashmir and its people, Modi needs to be reminded what Edmund Burke had once said: The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2019.