Removal of Article 370 and reorganization of J&K State into the Union Territories of J&K (with legislature) and Ladakh (without legislature) is a historic step by the Modi Government, which was long awaited. Executing it in one go makes it all the more remarkable, including abrogation of Article 370, correcting the wrong done by Nehru without consultation of his Home Minister and later stating it was only “temporary”.
Executing it in one go makes it all the more remarkable, including abrogation of Article 370, correcting the wrong done by Nehru without consultation of his Home Minister and later stating it was only “temporary”
The statements by Governor J&K on August 3 that nothing was happening with respect to Articles 35A and 370 was part of the subterfuge needed for the surprise announcement. Induction of additional 35-38000 troops in view of forthcoming elections by the end of the year (if these are not postponed) was hardly excessive. After all five out of 22 districts of J&K are radicalized, taking J&K and the Centre for a ride.
When Abdullahs and Mehbooba were crying about excessive troop induction, they should have known that in a state like Chhattisgarh there are some 65 battalions of CAPF deployed normally, which are built up to about 135 battalions during the elections because of the Maoists insurgency. If elections are to be held in J&K during September-October before the snows set in, induction of this quantum of additional troops is normal.
Meeting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Washington on July 22 this year, US President Donald Trump claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate on Kashmir. This was denied by India. But on August 2, Trump raised the Kashmir mediation offer again while replying to a reporter by saying, “If they wanted somebody to intervene and I spoke to Pakistan about that… I spoke frankly with India about it… if they wanted me to I would certainly intervene.” This confirms Trump was lying in claiming Modi asked him to mediate on the issue. Trump may have offered to mediate on Kashmir, which Imran would have lapped up, but not agreed to by Modi.
Raising the issue of Kashmir time and again, Trump appears panicky for his next presidential bid. North Korea and Iran have shown him two fingers and he needs theatrics to attract votes. That is why the Pentagon chief is also now talking of deploying missiles in Asia to counter China.
For Pakistan, Trump’s offer of mediation on Kashmir and Beijing also reiterating that third party mediation is needed, has not worked out. India also called Pakistan’s bluff offering to grant consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav the very next day, in presence of Pakistani officials, that too at specific time of 3.30 pm as if the ISI has too full a schedule or Imran and army chief Bajwa were to take off for the moon shortly thereafter on board a Chinese spacecraft. So Pakistan increased cross-border firing even using cluster bombs against civilian targets, increased infiltration attempts and BAT actions comprising regulars-terrorists mix; seven of them were gunned down by Indian Army closed to the LoC in Keran Sector. Pakistan’s aim to increase terror attacks possibly aimed at inviting punitive action by India that would help internationalize the Kashmir issue more, with increased pressure from US and China to mediate.
After the July 22 Trump-Imran meet, Pakistan’s fake news brigade went into overdrive, assisted by J&K politicians and agents our side of the border.
It is this reason why Pakistan is linking Kashmir with the situation in Afghanistan – indirect signal to US that helping US exit Afghanistan would be proportional to US help in resolution on Kashmir.
After the July 22 Trump-Imran meet, Pakistan’s fake news brigade went into overdrive, assisted by J&K politicians and agents our side of the border. Rumour mongering included:
• Pakistan has captured at least five Indian posts in Tangdhar Sector (sic), Kargil-type intrusion which Modi can’t afford to disclose – idiots don’t’ even know how to fake it; saying militants took these posts aided by Chinese Army and this is reported in Russian media.
• Yasin Malik is dead and additional troops are inducted before announcement can be made.
• India wants to see Afghanistan peace talks fail.
• Pakistan is hyping up international media on use of cluster bombs by India on Twitter war and hashtag #IndiaUsingClusterBombs.
• India is building up force in J&K to change Kashmir’s Constitutional Status.
• J&K State Police has been disarmed.
• India has again undertaken two cross-border raids on terror launch pads in POK – whereas only Indian artillery is hitting these terrorist-enemy locations with Bofors guns.
The abrupt cancellation of Amarnath Yatra, looked like India was chickening out. Just a week back we were patting our backs that infiltration was almost stopped and terrorists were being gunned down every day, terrorist leadership was in disarray and there is none to lead. Then came intelligence inputs of five Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists having infiltrated from POK; they could attack Indian security forces or carry out major terrorist attacks in the Valley.
As Pakistan’s nuclear bluff was called with the Balakot airstrikes on September 27, Pakistan-supported terror, separatists and indigenous jihadi bluff needed to be called off in one go…
Reports of recovery of sophisticated arms and ammunition with POF markings emerged. The Srinagar-based Corps Commander held a press conference showing a weapon recovered with a telescope. A mine with POF marking was also shown. Some scholars resorted justified the government move in saying lone wolf attacks can be expected, but that too was nothing new. Calling off the Yatra gave the impression that few terrorists with whatever arsenal can hold India to ransom.
But with the announcement in Parliament on August 5, everything fell into place; calling off the Amarnath Yatra, exodus of tourists, induction of additional troops, house arrest of Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, Sajjad Lone etc. Not only the government wanted to make these historic changes before next Independence Day, it also perhaps wanted to cater for sudden US announcement of pulling out from Afghanistan, which would enable Pakistan focus more across its eastern borders. Incremental changes by India, would have made it all the more difficult to handle.
As Pakistan’s nuclear bluff was called with the Balakot airstrikes on September 27, Pakistan-supported terror, separatists and indigenous jihadi bluff needed to be called off in one go, which has been remarkably achieved in one stroke. Those politicians and individuals who want to now pick up the gun will help identify them easily, which in turn will help sorting them out.
Pakistan will continue terrorism against India, aim at creating war hysteria and frenzy, energizing rumour engines to create and sustain the desired level of instability. But as far as Pakistani cries of India changing Constitutional Status of Kashmir go, J&K is integral part of India and only POK is disputed. Our counters must target Pakistan’s lies, deceit and deception more proactively. The most significant part of the government announcement is that Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh are now under the Constitution of India, and erstwhile special status of J&K has evaporated in thin air. Armed Forces are now eligible to vote in next J&K elections, and their franchise must be ensured.
Government’s follow up action should include the following in addition to rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits (KPs), which may be resisted:
Hoping Pakistan will mend its ways is utopian. Ironically, successive India government have failed to address the adverse sub-conventional asymmetry India has vis-à-vis Pakistan and China.
• Politicians involved in terror financing, supporting terrorists and amassing money must be prosecuted swiftly without exception.
• Speaking for Pakistan or terrorists organization like ISIS, and displaying such posters, attire or flags must be declared treason and acted upon.
• Inquiry of ethnic cleansing of KP’s must be instituted by the government and action taken against those responsible. It was pathetic that PIL for the same was refused to be entertained by Supreme Court under pretext the case was too old. The Government-instituted inquiry should also interrogate those SC judges who refused to entertain the said PIL.
• Yasin Malik who boasted to Tim Sebastian on ‘Hard Talk’, BBC few years back that he had killed four IAF personnel must be hanged. It is pathetic that this case has been lingering and the rat has been out on bail off and on, and on bail has also been visiting Pakistan to hobnob with ISI and terrorist organizations.
Hoping Pakistan will mend its ways is utopian. Ironically, successive India government have failed to address the adverse sub-conventional asymmetry India has vis-à-vis Pakistan and China. It is for this very reason we do not have requisite clout in Afghanistan, Trump is soft on Pakistan, and we cannot punish Pakistan in the right measure. Our political hierarchy believes there would be no war but fail to acknowledge the sub-conventional war we have been fighting and will continue to fight till we develop credible deterrence at the same sub-conventional level.