More than seven decades after gaining independence from the British, the Kashmir Dispute is showing signs of watering down. After the 1971 War, India and Pakistan both resorted to the indirect approach to fight their wars in the disputed state. It was because, in May 1974, India conducted its first nuclear test which changed the dynamics of power in the Sub-Continent. Bhutto understood its implications for Pakistan’s security.
When he said that a nuclear bomb is an instrument of deterrence, not meant to be used, he fully grasped the nature of the Indian challenge – henceforth India would use the indirect approach to nibble at Pakistan, using nuclear blackmail to settle its scores. He prepared to meet the blackmail head-on. Pakistan responded to India’s challenge in May 1998 by conducting five nuclear tests. With both countries becoming nuclear weapon states, a full-scale war was no longer an active option, hence the resort to the indirect approach.
Read more: Kashmir: The Counter Narrative
According to the Indian defense analyst Pravin Sawhney
” A full-scale war is not an active option. While it desires strategic space in Kashmir, Pakistan knows that territorial gains are only possible by supporting the insurgents in Kashmir.”
The center of gravity in Kashmir is the people’s support. Nehru understood this truism and cultivated a personal equation with Sheikh Abdullah, the firebrand Kashmiri leader who gravitated towards the Congress party’s secular philosophy. Abdullah was popular among the Kashmiri masses, and therefore a priceless asset that Nehru used to occupy the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir.
After the controversial accession of Jammu& Kashmir into the Indian Union, Abdullah played a very significant role in molding the Kashmiri public’s opinion in favor of India. During all the operations launched by the Indian Army against Pakistan-supported freedom fighters, National Conference volunteers, particularly in the Valley, acted as guides, spies, and political commissars for the Indian Army. They would sneak into the villages, motivate the villagers to support the Indians, and tie up the logistics for the projected operations. On the heels of every major Indian attack followed Sheikh Abdullah, Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad, D.P. Dhar, and other National Conference stalwarts to give pep talks to the inhabitants of the villages secured by the Indians.
Abdullah fell out with Nehru soon after the UN-brokered ceasefire between India and Pakistan in Jammu & Kashmir. As a result, he was incarcerated in Indian jails for long years. Abdullah had grudgingly accepted Indian suzerainty. He nurtured the ambition of an independent Kashmir. During the 1980s, Kashmiris were fed up with the corruption rampant in IHK under successive puppet governments.
Conditions for a fresh uprising were thus being created in the Valley
The simmering Kashmiri unrest found open expression in Valley in 1993 when the Kashmiris stood up for their rights. Thereafter, a long-drawn-out insurgency has gripped various parts of the IHK in the last three decades. In 2018, India revoked Article 370 and Article 35A of its constitution which provided a semblance of autonomy to its people. What was Modi up to? He wanted to fragment the IHK and annex each fragment with a contiguous Indian state. This, he thought, will scatter the Kashmiris to the four winds, break their cohesive national identity, and render them unable to unify for a common cause and struggle. It appears Modi has, at least partially, achieved his objectives.
Whereas all the Pakistani governments, since 1947, have used the Jammu &Kashmir dispute as a stunt to perpetuate their rule, India has worked doggedly to integrate IHK into the Indian mainstream. During all these years, and particularly since the creation of the so-called Kashmir Committee of Pakistan’s National Assembly, successive Pakistani governments have misled public opinion into believing that the people in IHK are dying to join Pakistan. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who chaired the Kashmir Committee till 2018, heads a party that doesn’t believe in Pakistan.
He has close links with Jamiat ul Ulema e Hind and even brokered a deal between the Indian government and the Jamiat when the relationship between the two was marred by political differences. All Maulana did during his tenure was to visit the world capitals at the taxpayer’s expense, without any tangible results. He even went to Cambodia- famous for its massage parlors.
The post-August 5,2019 situation in Indian Held Kashmir can be summarized as:
1)Indian attempts to change the demography of the IIOJK.
2) Redraw the constituencies in the held state to create an artificial Hindu majority in the presently defunct puppet state legislative assembly.
3)Thereafter, restore the pre-August 5, 2019 status of Jammu &Kashmir state.
4)Hold fraudulent elections in the state to elect a Hindu CM who would then ask the Indian parliament to abrogate the contentious Article 370 which gave the held state a special status in the Indian constitution.
This, according to Modi, will close the Kashmir Dispute forever
An important element that has remained elusive till now is the role Saudi Arabia and UAE are playing to facilitate India in her plans about IIOJK. It will be a South Asian “Deal of the Century”, similar to Trump’s “Deal of the Century” which he had devised to snuff out any prospects for a future Palestinian state. Trump’s deal, which was rejected by the Palestinians, also leaned heavily on UAE and Saudi support. Reportedly, UAE and Saudi Arabia plan to invest USD 100 billion in J&K if Pakistan agrees to declare the LoC as a permanent border between Pakistan and India. By doing so, Saudi Arabia and UAE aim at enhancing their geostrategic reach.
In another development, India will be hosting the 2023 meetings of G20 in IHK. G-20 is an influential grouping that brings together the world’s major economies. During the international summit (in UAE) last year, there was a lot of interest in Jammu and Kashmir. Encouraged by international business houses showing keen interest to invest in Jammu and Kashmir, New Delhi planned to hold the G-20 summit in the held state.
If the G-20 summit goes ahead as per the plan, it will be for the first time that a major international summit is held in Jammu and Kashmir which has opened for business and investment from outsiders after the abrogation of the erstwhile state’s special status under Article 370.
By choosing Jammu and Kashmir as the venue for the G20 summit, New Delhi has sent a clear and loud message to Pakistan that its claim on the Himalayan region has no locus- stand at the international level. If the summit goes ahead, it will be a major diplomatic victory for New Delhi and a setback to Islamabad.
Saleem Akhtar Malik is a Pakistan Army veteran who writes on national and international affairs, defense, military history, and military technology. He Tweets at @saleemakhtar53. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.