Modi is playing with fire!

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Mohammad Jamil

PAKISTAN on Monday condemned the Narendra Modi government’s move to repeal Article 370, which granted special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, saying no “unilateral step” could change the state’s disputed status. In a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan said J&K’s disputed status was enshrined in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions and no unilateral decision by India would be acceptable to the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan. “As the party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps. Pakistan reaffirms its abiding commitment to the Kashmir cause and its political, diplomatic and moral support to the people of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir for realisation of their inalienable right to self-determination”, the statement read. Pakistan held a joint session of Parliament on Tuesday and adopted a unanimous resolution condemning India’s illegal act, and expressed solidarity with Kashmiris.
Pakistan announced it was downgrading its diplomatic relations with India on Wednesday in response to India’s earlier revocation of a constitutional amendment that granted the disputed region of Kashmir special, semi-autonomous status. In a tweet, Pakistan government announced it would also be suspending bilateral trade with India and taking the issue of Kashmir to the United Nations Security Council. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the country would be expelling the Indian envoy from Islamabad and recalling their High Commissioner from New Delhi. Meanwhile, the Army top brass on Tuesday denounced Indian move to annex occupied Kashmir by ending its autonomous status and reaffirmed the support for the Kashmir cause. “Forum fully supported Government’s rejection of Indian actions regarding Kashmir, and will go to any extent to extend support the people of Kashmir”, the ISPR said after a meeting of the corps commanders.
In fact Article 370 was incorporated in Indian Constitution so as to guarantee significant autonomy to the Muslim-majority state. Former Chief Minister of India-occupied Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti, who is under house arrest in the state capital Srinagar, said the decision betrayed Kashmiris choice to align with India in 1947. She rued the earlier decision to give preference to India over Pakistan, which was flawed one. In fact, it was fraud committed by India by assuring Sheikh Abdullah and a few others that Article 370 allowed the state to have its own constitution, a separate flag and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defence and communications. Modi government is also moving to break up the state into two smaller, federally administered territories — one region will combine Muslim-majority Kashmir and Hindu-majority Jammu, and the other Buddhist-majority Ladakh, which is culturally and historically close to Tibet.
P Chidambaram, a senior leader in the opposition Congress Party described the decision as a catastrophic step and warned in Indian Parliament that it could have serious consequences. “You may think you have scored a victory, but you are wrong and history will prove you to be wrong. Future generations will realise what a grave mistake this House is making today,” he said. According to the constitution, Article 370 could only be modified with the agreement of the state government. But there hasn’t been a state government in Jammu and Kashmir for over a year now. In June last year, India imposed federal rule after the government of the then Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti lost majority due to BJP’s manoeuvring. India’s Home Minister Amit Shah had announced in Rajya Sabha about the decision to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution which granted special status to J&K.
Amit Shah’s announcement was followed by massive uproar in the Upper House with opposition MPs protesting vociferously. Back in the Valley, three of Jammu and Kashmir’s most prominent politicians — Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Sajjad Lone are under house arrest amid a massive security-built up in the state. Internet and mobile services have been suspended in several places and section 144 was imposed from midnight. The United Nations Human Rights spokesperson in a statement via a video on Twitter said that “what had already been observed to be a pattern was taken to a new level with the latest restrictions, which would exacerbate the human rights situation in the region”. UN Secretary General António Guterres on Thursday called on all parties to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir, which is recognised as a disputed territory by the United Nations and the Security Council.
In Pakistan, there are quite a few so-called liberal democrats who have not said a word of censure on India’s illegal act. SAFMA was set up to promote networking among the media community, improve professional standards, facilitate journalists’ exchanges, media trainings and undertake joint media productions. However, it was involved in Aman ki Asha, which was a campaign jointly started by two leading media houses — The Jang Group of Pakistan, and The Times of India. In social media, there had been allegations that SAFMA was India-funded organization. Recently, a statement/declaration was circulated by SAFMA among the intellectuals, writers, members of civil society apparently for upholding peoples’ rights, but in fact it was meant to denigrate Pakistan’s security institutions. On 05 August, India scraped Article 370 that gave special rights to the people of Kashmir; but SAFMA members are mute, and did not say a word of condemnation.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.