UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The decision of the Indian government to abolish the special status of Kashmir was approved by the chambers of the Indian Parliament on August 5 and 6.
The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, used the provision of Article 370 for this. To do this, he needed to obtain the consent of the State Assembly. However, given that it is in limbo, all powers are concentrated in the hands of the appointed Governor of New Delhi.
The consent of the latter was enough to fulfill the presidential decree. Covind’s decision was made on the recommendation of the cabinet. He stated that all the provisions of the Indian Constitution will now apply to Kashmir. Ironically, the provision of Article 370, which was used in this process, nullified the meaning of the whole article.
Observers expected Kashmir to lose its special status for various reasons. First, the Hindu nationalist party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was about to take this step almost since its inception in April 1980. The BJP was always disgusted by its special status under Article 370, even if only on paper to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which was dominated by the Muslim population. Pakistan opposed this state being annexed to India.
Therefore, the accession and, therefore, the application of Article 370th led to three wars in 1947-1948, 1965 and 1999, between two neighbors. When the BJP was in power from 1998 to 2004, it could not change the special status of Kashmir, because it was part of a coalition whose members were against such actions,
Secondly, Article 370, which was to guarantee the regional autonomy of Kashmir, has now become only a shadow of its original self. It was undermined by the constant encroachment of the federal government of India and the inaction of the politicians of Kashmir, which allowed to weaken the powers of this state. The disintegration process began in 1953, when Sheikh Abdullah, the greatest leader of the Kashmir freedom movement, was removed from the post of Prime Minister of Kashmir.
The Nehru government suspended him, believing that he was fueling separatist sentiments. And the party of the Indian National Congress, which today sheds crocodile tears due to the abolition of the special status of Kashmir, bore the main responsibility for reducing state autonomy, having been in power for 60 years.
Even when Sheikh Abdullah returned to power in 1975, agreeing to a softened version of autonomy under Article 370, Kashmir’s special status was more a myth than a reality. Now, Article 370 has lost its main meaning, over the years becoming just a kind of symbol of Kashmir’s autonomy, which does not carry any semantic load.
The New Delhi intervention in Kashmir was much tougher than in any other state. The BJP government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president Amit Shah, simply demolished Kashmir’s special status, destroying the myth that the only Indian state with a predominantly Muslim population enjoys greater support from the Center compared to other states.
The abolition of Kashmir’s special status is intended not so much to change the governance structure of Kashmir as to reassure Hindu BDP nationalists in the rest of India who advocated its elimination.
First of all, the party’s base should have understood that the BJP government is fulfilling the promise made to its ideological supporters. It can also be a signal that those who are not residents of the state will now be able to buy property in Kashmir and settle there.
Thus, the demographic balance between religious communities in the state begins to change, as the Muslim majority in the state will be diluted, if not completely destroyed.
Many observers feel that the decision-making time, the rush, and the secrecy with which these processes go is due to the recent statement by President Trump that he is ready to mediate in the conflict between India and Pakistan, and the fact that Prime Minister Modi asked him about this one.
True, the last part of the statement was refuted by New Delhi, which does not allow third parties to intervene in this dispute. In bilateral negotiations, the advantage will be on the side of a stronger player, in this case, on the side of India. Thus, the abolition of Kashmir’s special status may be a warning to Trump’s attempt to intervene in this situation.
As expected, Pakistan reacted quite sharply to this step of India. Islamabad condemned India for its “illegal” and “one-sided” step to abolish the special autonomous status of Kashmir. Prime Minister Imran Khan said he will refer the matter to the UN Security Council, and asked for support from close friends of Pakistan: China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Pakistan also severed minor trade ties with India, and sent the Indian ambassador from Islamabad. An atmosphere of tension has developed between the two countries.
However, Khan is careful not to allow Pakistan’s response to escalate into a full-fledged conflict. He has to go for it, given the volatile nature of Pakistan’s economy, dependent on international bailouts. Also, one should not forget about the relative indifference of the major powers, including the United States and the United Kingdom, to the process in India. Close friends of Islamabad, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, also refused to take the side of Pakistan in this matter.
The latter made it clear that this is an internal issue of India. First of all, the military command of Pakistan is well aware that the imbalance between the military and industrial potential of India and Pakistan will have a great influence on the outcome of the conflict, especially in the event of a protracted war. No one wants to risk the territorial integrity of Pakistan for Kashmir.
Consequently, Imran Khan tried to weaken public fervor over the confrontation, eliminating the attack on India. He made this clear in his statement in response to a demand from an opposition leader in parliament for a tougher stance against New Delhi. He warned India that its actions could lead to new attacks. Many in New Delhi took this as Pakistan’s willingness to increase the penetration of ISIS-sponsored terrorists through the control line into Jammu and Kashmir and organize terrorist attacks in mainland India.
However, Pakistan also suffers from severe restrictions. The international community, especially the United States, warned Islamabad that it should not support terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Kashmir. It also threatened serious consequences if he continued to do so. In addition, Islamabad is afraid that he will be blacklisted and denied access to international financial markets when he urgently needs loans to keep the economy afloat.
The intergovernmental body, the Financial Action Task Force, is scheduled to meet in October to determine whether Pakistan has fulfilled its obligations to destroy terrorist groups in order to remove it from the gray list of countries supporting terrorism.
Therefore, any escalation of terrorism in Kashmir, supported by Pakistan, at this stage is not productive from the point of view of Islamabad. Because if the Financial Action Task Force blacklisted Pakistan, it would lose access to international financial markets and funding agencies. This is practically economic suicide.
Ironically, Pakistan’s reaction to the abolition of Kashmir’s autonomous status could play into New Delhi’s hands if the Indian political elite can skillfully take advantage of it. By sharply criticizing India on this issue, Pakistan unwittingly endorsed the validity of Article 370, under which Kashmir’s accession to India was necessary.
This is music for New Delhi’s ears, since Kashmir’s autonomous status in India means that Islamabad recognizes the legitimacy of the state joining India, albeit on certain conditions. Such recognition of Pakistan, even if it is unintentional, will work in the hands of India in the propaganda war for Kashmir.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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