India’s New Kashmir Diplomacy

 By Sajjad ShaukatIndo-pak dialogue

Although since partition of the sub-continent, India has been employing various tactics to deprive the people of the Indian-held Kashmir of their legitimate right of self-determination which was afterwards also recognized by the UNO, yet as part of anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan approach, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi is implementing new Kashmir diplomacy.

In this regard, BJP and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have forged a coalition government on March 1, this year after inconclusive elections in Kashmir. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the head of the PDP who was sworn in as chief minister of the Indian-occupied Kashmir, enthusiastically embraced Modi, during the ceremony.

Earlier, negotiations between BJP and PDP on forming the government were tantalizing and aimed at robbing the mandate of the Kashmiri people who posed confidence in PDP for their betterment. However, PDP’s wooing of BJP is grave act of betrayal to its voters. The general public of the Indian-controlled Kashmir is a sensitive link for PDP and the weakest one of BJP especially in the Valley.

Modi and Sayeed finally agreed on a common agenda to jointly rule the State without any reference to scrapping a constitutional provision which allows Indian-held Kashmir to make its own laws and demands by the PDP to scrap the draconian laws which give Indian forces sweeping search and shoot-on-sight powers there—which are seen as a cover for human rights abuses.

In this respect, besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out grave human rights violations in the Indian-controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security forces. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act, security forces personnel have extraordinary powers to shoot suspected persons.”

A recent report disclosed that in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, since 1989, there have been deaths of 93,274 innocent Kashmiris, 6,969 custodial killings, 117,345 arrests and 105,861 destructions of houses. Indian brutal security forces have orphaned over 107, 351 children, widowed 22,728 women and gang raped 9,920 women.

However, as part of new Kashmir diplomacy, Modi hurriedly decided to forcibly annex disputed territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), uncovering its intentions to wrap up the article 370 of the Indian constitution which ensures a special status to J&K. Therefore, United Nations Military Observer Group India and Pakistan in New Delhi was asked to vacate official accommodation.

In this context, on the one hand, BJP government gave a green signal to the Indian security forces to continue various forms of state terrorism on the innocent kashmiris, while on the other, it has also been cajoling them through positive measures in order to divide them. In this connection, on January 15, 2015, during the Indian Army Day, Indian Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh ordered a day’s pay contribution by the entire Army to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to help flood-affected people in the Indian-held Kashmir—totaling an amount of Rs. 100 crore. The announcement was objected by few senior officers (Colonels), terming the decision to be non-voluntarily. They contended that why such contribution were not announced for natural calamities elsewhere in India. They objected on the order received from the Indian Army HQ. In fact, contribution for such cases is purely voluntary. And, the event reflects resentment of Indian officer cadre towards top Army leadership. It also highlights that Indian Army officers have a high degree of prejudice towards the people of Kashmir.

Nevertheless, Kashmiris and their sympathizers related to print, electronic and social media must expose this conspiracy by pointing out that both BJP and PDP are compromising on main issues such as article 370, AFSPA, trifurcation, rehabilitation of Pandits and West Pakistan Refugees issue.

Besides, continued incidents of violations by the Indian security forces at Working Boundary and Line of Control across Pak-Indian border were pressure tactics by BJP to coerce PDP which succumbed to form coalition government. While Kashmiri people have come to know that PDP through opportunistic posture aims at political gains at the cost of war of liberation which continues by the Kashmiris unabated.

Analysts warned that the coming together of two ideologically different parties could fuel discontent among Hindus in Jammu as well as Muslims in the Kashmir valley.

It is also mentionable that recently, New Delhi has agreed to send its Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to Pakistan who would visit Islamabad on March 3, under the Saarc Yatra, and would talk to Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry. In this regard, Indian External Affairs Ministry had stated, “We stand ready to talk with Pakistan on all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.”

Last year, India postponed the Secretary level talks with Pakistan; under the pretext that during his Indian visit Pakistan’s prime minister’s special advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz met Kashmiri leaders. In fact, as part of delaying tactics, India is not serious to resolve any issue with Pakistan, especially the core dispute of Kashmir. Indian rulers availed various crises to suspend the process of Pak-India talks. For example, in 2002, under the pretension of terrorist attack on the Indian parliament, New Delhi postponed the process of dialogue. Again, in 2008, India suspended the ‘composite dialogue’ under the pretext of Mumbai terror attacks.

Recently, Modi was raising baseless issue like Mumbai mayhem and terrorism as pre-conditions to advance the Pak-India dialogue. But, he ignored the fact that on July 19, 2013, Indian ex-investigating officer Satish Verma revealed that terror-attacks in Mumbai in November 26, 2008 and assault on Indian Parliament in January 12, 2001 were carried out by the Indian government to strengthen anti-terrorism laws.

Nonetheless, India’s new Kashmir diplomacy will fail; because, despite the employment of contradictory tactics, the war of liberation by the Kashmiri people will continue untill they get their legitimate right of self-determination.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations



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