India’s ulterior motive in IIOK
Kashmir has been a highly contentious dispute between India and Pakistan. Kashmir holds great importance for India’s national security, geography and resources. India has maintained its claims to Kashmir since its independence.
In retrospect, India’s Kashmir strategy has evolved into a pragmatic Kashmir policy that assists India to maintain control over most of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
In the past, India made various attempts to achieve its goal of refusing to acknowledge Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. For instance, to persuade the Maharaja to join India when he was under pressure due to the unrest in Poonch.
India is demonstrating to the world that Kashmir is a vital part, the Atoot Ang, of its identity. India also asserts that Pakistan is wrongly claiming Indian territory and that India owns Kashmir in its entirety.
In addition, it regards Maharaja Hari Singh’s document of accession as having legal force, which led to Kashmir being legitimately and fairly handed to India.
The Narendra Modi-led Indian government revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution in 2019. The purpose of Article 370 was to temporarily provide the State of Jammu and Kashmir with a special status since it was a disputed region.
The Indian Administration defended the decision by claiming that since Article 370 was obstructing Kashmir’s development, modifications had to be made. Furthermore, India changed the laws regarding State Subjects (domicile) of IIOK.
The new domicile regulations have made it possible for non-Kashmiri Hindus to get a Kashmiri domicile under a variety of pretexts.
The Adaptation of State Laws Order-2022 eliminated the Kashmiri identity (Kashmiriyat) and their statehood which is a radical conduct and a serious breach of the Geneva Convention and international law. No occupation force or authority can operate in such a manner on its own.
This law attempted to implement the long-awaited Indian agenda in IIOJK by bringing about demographic changes.
There is little doubt that the BJP wanted to abolish Articles 370 and 35-A and then alter the IIOK’s demographics so that Muslims would not dominate in their region.
The BJP planned the demographic changes in IIOK to impede the referendum and the realization of the right to self-determination.
The central issue that the BJP Administration has intensified in occupied Kashmir reflects its hegemonic aspirations to advance “Hindutva” as a superior long-term strategic goal.
The Indian government’s new policy, which emphasizes political and military objectives to defeat Pakistan strategically, is quite clear.
Hindutva is regarded as an ideological movement by Indian politicians as a means of re-establishing and reclaiming the Hindu power base.
To undermine the strategy, narrative and influence of the world community and prevent any significant activities by the international media from spotlighting the current Kashmir situation, Narendra Modi is playing his cards carefully at every international forum.
There is little incentive for India to withdraw from this conflict. For India, Kashmir is incredibly vital. The hidden interest of India on which it can’t compromise is the importance of Kashmir as its trade routes and sound commercial ties.
Kashmir connects South Asia with Central Asia. It is the sole straight route from India to Central Asia and from there to Europe. The availability of natural resources and upcoming hydroelectric power plans make this possible.
Additionally, the Kashmiri conflict has not had a significant negative impact on India’s economy or politics. Given the existing circumstances, it is thus highly improbable that India would modify its position on Kashmir soon.
On the other hand, India appears to be advancing toward fully integrating Kashmir into itself. The claim made by India that this action would allow it to develop the underdeveloped regions of IIOJK is an attempt to deceive the international community, the UN, and, most importantly, Indian intellectuals.
India benefited greatly from increased backing from the international community on its stance on Kashmir. India gained popularity as a trading partner and ally owing to its swift economic and military development.
The change of Article 370 serves as an illustration of this. We may assume that this international assistance will keep coming. India is waging its latest hybrid conflict against Pakistan. The potential for direct Indian engagement in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir might be disastrous for both nuclear neighbours.
However, it appears that foreign actors are still neglecting the sensitivity of the situation despite the UN Security Council meeting on Kashmir. Even though the UN Security Council has adopted many resolutions that exclusively address the “right to self-determination of Kashmiris,” there is still no clear solution to the Kashmir dispute.
By taking serious efforts to end this conflict, the international community and other regional organizations should consider the constantly changing security situation in Indian occupied Kashmir.
[The writer is currently working as Research Associate with the Institute of Peace and Contemporary Affairs, Islamabad.]