In the wake of an attack on an Indian army camp by armed militants near Jammu which killed seven people including the attackers in a day-long battle, India lost no time in accusing Pakistan of being behind the attack and the Indian defence minister Nirmala Sithraman said that India would make Pakistan pay for the attack. The minister said that the attackers belonging to Jaish-e-Muhammad had their handlers in Pakistan and India had credible evidence to that effect, although she did not unravel the evidence that she claimed they had.
The Indians adopted the same tactics after the Uri attack in 2016 when they almost created war hysteria and even unfurled the hoax of surgical strike on Pakistani territory to assuage the public opinion at home. Nevertheless they have kept the LOC hot without any let up with Pakistani forces rendering befitting responses to the aggression of the Indian security forces.
Going by the past experience India can be expected to take this bellicose blustering to still higher levels and also increase the intensity of attacks along the LOC without carrying out the threat of making Pakistan to paying for the alleged sponsoring of the attack because it knew that Pakistan had the will and the capability to respond in the same coin.
Realistically and logically speaking it makes sense to believe that the attacks on the Indian military camps were carried out by the Kashmiri militants who were waging a freedom struggle against India since 1989 and had chosen to launch retaliatory attacks against the Indian security forces for the atrocities that they were perpetrating on the people of Kashmir while attempting to quell the resurgent freedom struggle in the backdrop of the killing of Burhan Wani.
India instead of adopting a realistic approach to the Kashmir dispute and trying to resolve it in line with the UN resolutions is persisting with its hostile posture against Pakistan. It has a number of objectives including deflecting the attentions of the world community from the blatant violations of human rights in IHK, portraying the freedom struggle as Pakistani sponsored terrorism and isolating Pakistan globally for which it has been making relentless efforts at all the available international forums.
The Indian government under Modi is actually trying to consign the region to permanent instability not realizing the fact that it could prove counter-productive and also undermine its own interests in the long run. The permeating situation demands that sanity must replace bellicose blustering and hostility. Perhaps it would be in the fitness of things that the role of the United Nation Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan was expanded to monitor the violations of the ceasefire along the LOC and also to establish the authenticity of the claims surrounding the blame-game, as rightly demanded by the permanent representative of Pakistan at the UN Maleeha Lodhi while speaking in the UN Special Committee on Peace Keeping Operations on Monday.
It is indeed deplorable that the world powers and UN are showing criminal indifference to the plight of the people of Kashmir. The US and its western allies are trying to prop up India as a counter-weight to the burgeoning Chinese influence in the region and beyond. They are rewarding India for doing their bidding by turning their backs on the plight of the people of Kashmir and buying the Indian narrative on the obtaining situation blinded by their commercial and strategic interests in the region.
Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of the partition. The dispute over Kashmir has remained unresolved due to the Indian somersaults on its commitments to settle the question of accession of the state through a UN sponsored plebiscite and calling IHK as integral part of India on the basis of a resolution by the constituent assembly of the state in 1957 notwithstanding the fact that the UN though its resolutions number 91 and 122 had unequivocally repudiated the Indian stance by saying that the question of accession of the state could not be settled by any way other than a plebiscite held under the auspices of the UN. It is pertinent to note that Indian in spite of its claims of IHK being integral part of India had recognized Kahmir as a disputed territory in the Simla Agreement signed between the two countries.
Article 370 of the Indian constitution also grants special autonomous status to Jummu and Kashmir under part XXI of the Indian constitution. The BJP in its election manifesto for Indian General Elections 2014 made a pledge to integrate the State of Jummu and Kashmir into the Union of India and accordingly a move was initiated by BJP in connivance with RSS to have the Article 370 of the Indian constitution repealed. That attempt was effectively blocked by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir in a land mark judgment in 2015 saying that article 370 of the article of the Indian constitution was a permanent provision and could not be abrogated, repealed or even amended. It further ruled that J&K retained limited sovereignty and did not merge with the Dominion of India after partition in 1947.
It was a very significant development that not only negated the Indian claims of Kashmir being an integral part of India but reconfirmed the status of the state as a disputed territory. The existence of article 370 also was an affirmation of the fact that Kashmir was not part of the Indian union like other states. Another very pertinent point to be noted is that J&K has its own constitution and India has its own. You cannot have two constitutions in a single state, therefore, in legal and constitutional terms India and J&K are two separate entities
As is evident from the foregoing facts Indian stance on Kashmir has no moral and legal basis. The Indian leadership must realize that acting like a war-like state would undermine the security and stability of the entire region. They should stop thinking that Pakistan could be cowed down or brow-beaten by hollow threats or even through the fatal indiscretion of provoking a military confrontation with her. Pakistan like India is a nuclear power and despite its innate desire to resolve disputes with India through peaceful means was adequately equipped to give a befitting answer to any military misadventure.
Peace, security and shared economic prosperity in our region is inextricably linked to the bonhomie between India and Pakistan, achieved through resolution of the Kashmir dispute. As soon as this reality sinks in the minds of the Indian leadership the better it would be for the entire region.
n The writer is a freelance columnist.
Indian stance on Kashmir has no moral and legal basis. The Indian leadership must realize that
acting like a war-like state would undermine the security and stability of the entire region.