WINDOW ON SOUTH ASIA

Published:  12:07 AM, 16 August 2019

Dealing with J&K-related developments

Dealing with J&K-related developments

It was indeed a bold and unprecedented decision to revoke Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and turning the state into two Union Territories - J&K and Ladakh. It must have been a tough move on part of the Indian government doing something so drastic, fraught with serious repercussions, particularly chances of unleashing of terror linked violence emanating from Pakistan.

However, it would now seem that the contingency plans drawn up by Minister Modi and his crisis managers had the best of advices and subsequent implementation keeping J&K free from any major violence or reprisal causing dent to law and order problems. National Security Advisor (NSA), AK Doval moved to the scene very swiftly and took charge of the situation at the soonest as the Independence Day (August 15) draws to a close.

There was immediate action on ground in an apparent bid to give the healing touch to the local population, reeling under a spell of initial shock as to what's going to happen next? No doubt there has been a state of uncertainty but amid prohibitory orders, the NSA was seen interacting with the people on ground and by the body language of the images, it was evident that genuine efforts are on to explain the people about the prospects of good governance and an assured development that are expected to ensue in the near foreseeable future. And, this is no mean challenge.

Now that there is mention of Pakistan, it's role in the wake of Kashmir related developments merit critical elaboration. The country under Imran Khan seemed to vitiate its population by a slew of knee jerk reactions. It started with expulsion of Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad and downgrading of diplomatic relations with though India has asked Pakistan to refrain from such drastic action.

Then, Pakistan suspended trade with India and discontinued bus and train services including  Samjhauta express and Thar express linking Punjab and Rajasthan respectively. This unintelligent and thoughtless move on part of Pakistan is likely to severe people to people relations between the two countries amid prevailing of worst of bilateral tensions. This will also undo a lot of groundwork already done by India in the preceding years.

Ironically, Pakistan also has stepped up acrimonious anti India propaganda by trying to internationalise the whole development. It's Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, dashed to China seeking the latter's intervention though any problem between India and Pakistan merits resolution only bilaterally and in the spirit of the Shimla Agreement of 1972.

This is made amply clear by the US spokesperson on behalf of the State Department and Russia as well. However, Pakistan's friends like President Erdogan of Turkey and Mahatir Mohamed of Malaysia have called up Prime Minister Imran Khan expressing 'solidarity' on the Kashmir front.

Indian External Affairs Minister, S. Jai Shankar is now in Beijing and held talks with his Chinese counterpart in an attempt to convince that J&K and Ladakh are integral parts of India and any move by Pakistan or anyone will be taken as a blatant interference in the internal affairs of India.

Today, Indian diplomacy is also at its peak trying to tell the international community that the revocation of Article 370 and splitting J&K into two Union Territories are in the best interests of the local population dispelling apprehensions that they have any mala fide designs.

Within the J&K, there is a noticeable public cooperation to the authorities amid prohibitory orders which remain likely to continue to meet any law and order eventuality. Such measures seem imperative to neutralise any Pakistani nefarious intent to cause trouble as already archived in the annals of history whenever Pakistan triggered off undesirable happenings on the Indian soil.

Realistically, the challenges are multiple and very tough. The Indian establishment seems to be working overtime, internationally and internally, to deal with the development to the best of its ability and the tasks might multiply manifold as it's barely a week since this bold decision was taken.

The unfolding of further related developments need close watch with timely and effective intervention including a major responsibility of keeping the local Kashmiris on board so that all the stakeholders are in sync at this crucial juncture.


The writer is a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. The views expressed are personal.

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