Destabilizing speculation

Hints of thaw in disputed Kashmir

(MENAFN – Asia Times) PESHAWAR – New developments are diverting Pakistan’s attention from the Afghan chessboard to the contested Himalayan state of Kashmir, where India says it will soon make “critically important” administrative changes “, without giving more details.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest move to call an ‘all-party’ meeting of Kashmiri leaders in the last week of June in New Delhi has raised speculation that the region is on the cusp of new waves of instability or a new era of reconciliation.

Some saw hope for the latter during Modi’s first meeting with the rulers of Kashmir, which overshadowed his previously stated plan to “tighten the noose around the disbelievers” to create problems for the Indian government in Kashmir. .

Others were less certain following reports of a meeting involving Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Manoj Sinha with Union Home Secretary Amit Shah at the week last in New Delhi. Kashmiri rulers, tweeting on social media, vaguely claimed that India was planning “something important vis-à-vis Kashmir”.

Despite the recent reaffirmation of a ceasefire in 2003, the mountainous region of Kashmir bordering Pakistan and India is still a hot spot between nuclear neighbors, who have waged three wars for possession of the valley since. the 1947 partition of British India.

Pakistan currently controls one-third and India two-thirds of the contested mountainous region.

The 2003 ceasefire had in fact failed in any way to stop hostilities. The Indian government says Pakistan violated the ceasefire at least 5,133 times last year, killing 22 civilians and 24 security personnel.

Pakistan, for its part, claims India violated the ceasefire at least 3,097 times in 2020, killing 28 civilians and injuring 257 others.

Recent Indian troop movements, including the deployment of 200 companies of paramilitary forces to Kashmir, have rekindled memories of 2019, when India stepped up security in the valley in anticipation of a large-scale public response to the New Delhi’s repeal of Article 370, which controversially stripped the princely state of its autonomous status.

Since then, Islamabad has tried unsuccessfully to step up international pressure against New Delhi to reverse the trend, which has resulted in rising tensions and a severe security crackdown that shut down the internet, among other restrictive measures.

Today, however, some analysts believe that backdoor diplomacy has worked over time and that India is preparing to reinstate Article 370, potentially paving the way for the restoration of the former autonomous status of the country. Cashmere.

Article 370 granted Kashmir the autonomy of its affairs, with the exception of communications, defense, finance and foreign affairs. It also gave the state the ability to develop its own constitution and legislation, albeit in conference with the Indian government.

If Modi follows through and reinstates the repealed article, it could have far-reaching implications for stability across the region.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech to supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at a pre-election mega-rally in West Bengal, on the outskirts of Calcutta on April 12, 2021. Photo: Sonali Pal Chaudhury / NurPhoto via AFP

Any move in this direction, analysts say, could be driven in part by rapid events in Afghanistan, which some analysts say is drifting into lawlessness and civil war as the US and NATO withdraw troops. .

India, like Russia and China, is interested in stability in Afghanistan, which has in the past been a hotbed for Islamic militancy and terrorism under the Taliban regime. The Taliban are on the verge of either ceasing control of Kabul or entering into a power-sharing deal with the national government of incumbent President Ashraf Ghani.

Jan Achakzai, former adviser to the Pakistani provincial government in Balochistan, told Asia Times that Pakistan’s various and recent approaches to the UN Secretary-General and the UN Security Council on repealing the article 370 by India had had no effect on New Delhi.

“Modi will restore the state of Kashmir with the start of an electoral process in the disputed region,” he predicted, saying that non-governmental, informal and unofficial activities have all helped to melt the ice cream.

The backchannel activities that have been going on for some time have produced the desired results. It is important to note that all politicians at J&K have been invited to a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, which shows the seriousness of Indian leaders to end this impasse, ” Achakzai argued.

Yet uncertainty as to what exactly India has in mind regarding new administrative changes in Kashmir and the build-up of troops in New Delhi in apparent anticipation of the move has given Pakistani military strategists restless nights.

Indian forces on alert in Srinagar, Kashmir, in a file photo. Photo: Muzamil Mattoo / NurPhoto via AFP

Since 2019, India has taken steps to end what it sees as an “infiltration of terrorists” into the valley of neighboring Pakistan, where New Delhi claims powerful security and espionage agencies in Islamabad built training camps to equip and train militants determined to destabilize the region.

Indeed, Pakistani officials are not entirely convinced that India’s next move will necessarily be conciliatory. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi this month sent letters to the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Secretary-General expressing his preemptive concerns over India’s new undisclosed action. in Kashmir.

Echoing previous complaints, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said India’s proposed “demographic changes” in the disputed region were an “instrument of occupation, which will have no legal effect” in Kashmir.

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