Ever since the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution, which outlined the special status of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, India has started adopting a drastically different approach towards that particular region. This new approach aims to challenge the old one that is usually centred around the question of containing militancy and insurgency against India’s presence to that of existing total control over the entire of Kashmir, including across Line of Control. India’s political leadership including Home Minister, Amit Shah, External Affairs Minister, Subramanyam Jaishankar have alluded to the desire of exercising physical jurisdiction over Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistan Administered Jammu and Kashmir). Even India’s military also thinks along these lines.

And the newly appointed 28th Indian Army Chief, General Manoj Mukund Narvane speaking with the press has also stated, “If parliament desires that area (Pakistan administered Kashmir) to also become our part at some point and if we receive any orders to this effect then action will definitely be taken.” This again sits broadly in consonance with India’s existing political and military leadership of a militarised and completely territorial view of a disputed territory.

This shift in approach is now beginning to reflect in strategic thought of India’s military leadership, which appears comfortable with annexation and occupation of Azad Jammu and Kashmir by force. This approach itself reflects a wrong attitude of looking at a problem of a political issue as one that of a purely and solely of a territorial dispute. Perhaps, a key lesson is being ignored that people in Gilgit Baltistan had engaged in an insurrection against the Dogra rule (immediately after Independence of both Pakistan and India) to achieve independence over their political affairs and decided to cede with Pakistan. Furthermore, history demonstrates that adopting a misleading perspective towards political issues involving the question of self-determination has only concluded in futile outcomes. The emergence of South Sudan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and East Timor, itself demonstrate that military means are not the source of addressing the complicated political question.

The most pertinent question to ask is what could such an approach lead to? BJP has demonstrated little to almost no reluctance in meeting its often controversial or contentious electoral promises. Some of these promises have run diametrically contrary to traditional values often attributed to India. BJP through parliament or political leadership has remained unwilling to subscribe to such ideas and remains convinced to following an unorthodox approach devoid of restraint. The question that is worth asking is this: will BJP also extend this approach to adopting a dynamic and militarised approach to Jammu and Kashmir dispute? If BJP’s elected leadership considers the militarised approach as a means of altering the status quo regarding Jammu and Kashmir dispute status, it is likely to bring out highly concerning outcomes.

The Simla Agreement 1972 formalised the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan over the disputed Jammu and Kashmir. It brought Line of Control into force until the dispute’s resolution. India’s unwillingness to reconcile a bilateral and multilateral intervention to resolve or initiate a dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan could lead to a manifestation of actions resulting in total collapse. One of such activities could be under pretext of counter-terror operations or security to undertake military initiatives or actions, which could lead to altering the current status of Line of Control. Consequently, rendering it vulnerable to military action from India and Pakistan and if India decides to change its status, then the 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan can be in peril and complete tatters.

If India decides to undertake military action across LoC for the purpose of annexing territory, it will undoubtedly engulf India and Pakistan into an entrenched crisis. One it will change the status of Simla Agreement 1972; second, it will alter the nature of Jammu and Kashmir dispute through means of military might. Third, it will ignore the choice of Kashmiri people through resort to military means instead of taking the path of plebiscite and referendum. Finally, it holds the recipe of embroiling Pakistan and India into a generalised conflict. The perils of such an approach stress the point for keeping the people of Jammu and Kashmir at the centre of settling the dispute, through a plebiscite.