Sultan M Hali
IN a desperate bid to further its diabolical Kashmir Plan, India has revoked the special status enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir provided by Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, scrapping Article 35-A and splitting the State into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh. In the past two weeks, a sinister move was imminent since 38,000 additional troops had been deployed in J&K, unprecedented shelling across the Line of Control and the use of Cluster Bombs to slaughter innocent Kashmiris. Brute force against a just struggle is in direct contravention to the Geneva Convention but India is known to have no respect for human rights organizations. During Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Washington, President Trump said that the Indian Prime Minister Modi had asked him to mediate on Kashmir. After Prime Minister Imran Khan’s highly successful visit to Washington, China and Turkey also supported Pakistan on Kashmir issue. Both the countries said that Kashmir is a longstanding dispute in this region and should be resolved on priority.
China especially backed US President Donald Trump’s recent offer of mediation between Pakistan and India in the Kashmir issue. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a statement that “We support the international community, the US included, in playing a constructive role in improving Pakistan-India relations through dialogue”. She further said that Pakistan and India can peacefully settle the Kashmir issue and other bilateral disputes through dialogue and make concerted efforts to safeguard peace and stability in South Asia. Similarly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also telephoned Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss bilateral ties as well as developments in the region, including the Indian-occupied Kashmir and ongoing efforts for Afghan peace. The support by China and Turkey is seen as another diplomatic victory for Pakistan.
Rattled by this expression of solidarity by Pakistan’s traditional friends – China and Turkey -and the unprecedented offer of mediation by the President of the United States, India expedited its vicious Kashmir Plan. When Modi ascended to power in 2014, he had a one-point agenda regarding Kashmir: its annexation to India. Two impediments blocked him, Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution. The former grants special status to the residents of Kashmir. Article 370 was a solemn commitment of the Government of India to the Kashmiris and it arose out of the special circumstances that confronted the Constituent Assembly as it wrote the Indian Constitution in 1948. One-third of the State had been liberated by Pakistan, and the United Nations Security Council had passed a resolution suggesting that accession of the State to the Indian Union needed to be ratified through a plebiscite. So, the Constituent Assembly incorporated Article 370 conferring special status to the state. This meant the inclusion of a provision limiting the jurisdiction of the Union Government over the state.
Article 35-A, which was promulgated by India’s first President, Rajendra Prasad, on May 14, 1954, in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 370. It prohibits ownership of land in Kashmir by non-residents. It is worth noting that several Indian states prohibit land ownership by “outsiders”. Himachal Pradesh does not allow non-Himachalis to buy agricultural land. Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland etc., disallow land ownership by non-residents. On assumption of the Prime Minister’s mantle, Modi had a three-pronged plan. Firstly, to win the state elections in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014 and with a majority, repudiate Article 35-A. Change the demographics of Occupied Kashmir, resettling Hindus to change the majority of the Muslims into minority so that if a plebiscite does take place, the majority will vote for accession to India.
The first part of the plan called 44plus since this was the number of seats required by BJP to win a majority, failed because Kashmiris turned up in droves to renounce Modi’s heinous agenda and a majority in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly. BJP formed a coalition government with Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP but soon fell out, giving rise to Governor’s Rule. In order to punish the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, on 8 July 2016, popular youth leader Burhan Wani was brutally murdered. When Kashmiri youth came out in the streets to protest the assassination, Indian forces wreaked havoc on the demonstrators firing pellet guns, which have to date martyred 500 youth and permanently blinded 3,600. In part two of the diabolical plan, Modi turned to resettling Hindus into the Valley but was barred by Article 35-A. Part three constituted launching false flag operations, blaming Pakistan for the dastardly attacks to divert international attention from India’s ghoulish acts of brutality against the Kashmiris.
Time was running out for Modi, since international leaders of the ilk of Donald Trump, Xi Jinping and Recep Tayyip Erdogan were calling for a resolution of the Kashmir issue. Modi, taking a leaf out of the Israeli book on atrocities against the Palestinians, acted hastily. Indian President signed a Bill revoking the Articles on J&K, while the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament ratified the Bill with 2/3rd majority and Lok Sabha too followed suit. The move is a gamble since the people of the Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) were not consulted. Currently IOK is virtually paralyzed by a curfew, social media and internet facilities are blocked and all Kashmiri leaders are incarcerated. Modi believes that he will get away with the move since the world is too preoccupied by their own problems. It is up to Pakistan to raise the issue internationally and awaken the conscience of the world to counter India’s diabolical plan, which has been set in motion.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.