Home South Asia India Indo-Pak Quagmire: Kashmir the Unfinished Agenda

Indo-Pak Quagmire: Kashmir the Unfinished Agenda

With the abrogation of article 370 and 35A and PM Khan’s stance against it, begs the questions whether there will be a war and if so, can Pakistan or India afford it? And if not, what is the best possible step for Pakistan to combat such an atrocity.

Kashmir

Ousama Khurshid |

September 1949 was a key moment in South Asian history. The constitution of India came into effect and India truly became a republic on its feet free from any British puppeteering. A startling incident from those days, that’s far too often snubbed, is the intense 3-day debate that occurred on its first article, i.e. the official name of the country.

The Vallabhbhai Patel-led more conservative Congress members and demanded the ancient name “Bharat” while Nehru and his side supported the modern “India”. In the end, a compromise was reached and both names became part of the legislature, which reads “India, that is Bharat”. At the time, it seemed like a mere clerical sideshow. However, as the past few days have shown, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Power of the Pen

From Sheikh Abdullah’s pledge of loyalty to the Indian state to the 2014 BJP manifesto of finally “integrating” Kashmir, the Indian narrative seemed a consistent blend of should-haves and will haves. However, as the past few days have shown, BJP means business this time.

A startling incident from those days, that’s far too often snubbed, is the intense 3-day debate that occurred on its first article, i.e. the official name of the country.

On 5th August 2019, with a single stroke of his pen, the President of India promulgated the essential clauses in the Indian constitution that afforded the regions of Jammu & Kashmir and its peoples a special status. The whole fiasco reeks of the infamous “Lebensraum” rhetoric adopted by the Nazis in the late 30s.

Several BJP members, including state ministers, have suggested this to be a moment of rejoice to their supporters, citing the possibilities of marriage to fair-skinned Kashmiri women or the prime and inexpensive Kashmiri real estate. This is fascism that’s beginning to plunge its sharp teeth into Kashmir and the Kashmiris.

Read more: Article 35-A: Court’s move could be problematic for Indo-Pak relations

Neither Pakistan or India can afford War

While this might feel like a seismic event in India-Pakistan relations, it is essentially a waypoint. Both countries find themselves in different, yet consequential moments in their economic paths. While Pakistan aims to recover from an otherwise disappointing 2018-19 that saw its currency devalued, foreign reserves dry up and debt repayments threatening to bankrupt the state resulting in Zimbabwe-esque inflation, India has aimed to lead.

The constitution of India came into effect and India truly became a republic on its feet free from any British puppeteering.

Despite a decline in its growth rate, India is well on its way towards becoming one of the 3 largest economies in the world. For vastly different reasons, but neither India nor Pakistan can afford a war at this stage. At least not in the conventional sense. All of this begs the question, “What cards does Pakistan have?” From a military perspective, none.

As the recent meeting with Donald Trump indicated, Pakistan’s armed forces must prepare for an imminent departure of American forces from Afghanistan, which is witnessing a sharp upsurge in Taliban activity. It cannot afford an armed confrontation with India, strategically nor financially. That leaves it with diplomacy and goodwill.

Read more: In plain words: What are Articles 370 and 35-A?

Pakistan’s Best Strategy

On the diplomatic front, it has shifted into the 5th gear as the Prime Minister’s swift calls to leaders across the Muslim world, as well as China, indicated. How it will approach the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting on the 17th of September should indicate what route Pakistan intends to take when it comes to bringing the world’s attention to the plight of Kashmiris.

Pakistan’s armed forces must prepare for an imminent departure of American forces from Afghanistan, which is witnessing a sharp upsurge in Taliban activity.

Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly known as the Northern Areas, has been an essential weapon in terms of propaganda. A far cry from the Indian-administered region that is filled with images of 700,000 Indian troops enforcing a President’s rule since November 2008, Gilgit-Baltistan is quintessentially Pakistan’s tourism capital. It has its own system of governance as well as certain autonomous privileges that the constitution of Pakistan, as well as the Simla Agreement, guarantees.

As 2019 has shown, the Pakistani state has realized the potential of this tourism in terms of generating goodwill, both domestically and globally. And this might be Pakistan’s best strategy in terms of dealing with this new situation. Even though it might simply be a Kafkaesque task, a plebiscite in these areas supervised and observed by the UN and other international agencies would reiterate two points.

Read more: Mockery of Democracy: Indians Criticize Revocation of Article 370

First, the regions administered by the Pakistani side is to be hugely in favor of either becoming a part of the larger Pakistani federation or attaining a special status akin to the present AJ&K arrangement. Secondly, it would reinforce Pakistan’s stance since 1948 of resolving the Kashmir issue via a larger public plebiscite in the whole region.

A far-cry from the Indian-administered region that is filled with images of 700,000 Indian troops enforcing a President’s rule since November 2008, Gilgit-Baltistan is quintessentially Pakistan’s tourism capital.

A plebiscite of this nature would strengthen Pakistan’s commitment as well as give it a firm bargaining chip in front of the international community. The proverbial “ball” would then be in India’s court to come up with a civil and not a military solution.

Read more: Revocation of Article 370: Violation of UNSC, Indian Constitution & Victory for RSS Ideology?

Nehru’s Government

It is worth mentioning here that the India that Nehru governed was intended to be more secular and encompassing than the Bharat, the fanatics envisioned. Even though that squabble over the new country’s name was settled, Nehru ensured that “India” would be placed before “Bharat”. A vital piece of legislation that echoed this distinction has now been abrogated.

Today, at this critical juncture of claiming victories prematurely be more detrimental to the Kashmir cause and a big blow on both sides of Kashmir. Now again, a great diplomatic victory is being claimed or at least portrayed as the Kashmir issue will be discussed in UNSC during its Emergency Session, which is incorrect. Hopes of the nation have been raised and any unfavorable or even status quo-oriented decision will further demoralize a shell-shocked nation. When will we learn to be a bit more circumspect in state affairs? Today the Kashmir issue is fixed for “Consultation” which has very limited scope.

Ousama Khurshid Khan is Lecturer at Muslim Youth University. He completed his M.Phil in International Relations from NDU. Previously he served as Director Academics at CSCR. He can be reached on osamakhurshidkhan@gmail.com and he tweets @sam1992sam The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

Facebook Comments