Cardinal question for the moment is: Will Narendra Modi’s premediated triggering of crisis in India-Occupied Kashmir (IoK) snowball enough to incite and invoke US led intervention by the UN to throw up a win-win solution for one of the oldest disputes on the UN agenda? Presumably, Modi initiated the process on side-lines of recent G-20 summit, when he asked the US President Donald Trump to mediate for resolving Kashmir dispute. He may have also proposed a roadmap to Trump who’s ever excited twitter is mum, on the issue, since the annexation of IoK. Another question is: Was Trump aware that Modi was about to act this way prior to his summit with Prime Minister Imran Khan, [circumstantial evidence suggests that he did], if so, whom was he fooling? Or Did Modi hoodwink Trump and used him as a joker in his broader plan? If so, Trump will hit back soon and ponce on Modi, like an injured Loin. Let’s wait and see: ‘Who used Whom?’
India has had a long trail of going back on its commitments to the Kashmiri people that they would be allowed to democratically decide whether they would join Pakistan or India. Over the years, Indian occupation forces have killed tens of thousands of Kashmiri people, used pellet guns to blind them and subjected them to cluster bombs. Yet, India has not been able to legitimize its occupation of Kashmir; and it will never be able to do so.
Its earlier grand move to legitimize occupation was rejected by the world community when in 1957 the UN Security Council (UNSC), through a Resolution declared that the Srinagar Kegislative Assembly did not have the power to legitimize Indian claim over Kashmir (Resolution 122 of January 24, 1957). This Resolution pointed out that any elections in occupied Kashmir could not substitute plebiscite that had been promised to the Kashmiri people. Indian claim that princely ruler of Kashmir had acceded his state to India had earlier been rejected by the UN Security Council. But even that dubious accession deed was based on full internal autonomy of the state, except defence, foreign affairs and communications. This arrangement was formalised through Articles 370 and 35A of Indian Constitution which Modi abrogated post haste, on August 05, 2019. Accession deed is now void; we are back to August 14, 1947 status. If the Kashmir Legislative Assembly did not have power to decide fate of Kashmir, how the Indian Parliament can claim such power. India does not tire by referring to Simla Agreement but on August 05, it chose to trample its provisions that neither India nor Pakistan will change status quo in Kashmir till final settlement of the dispute.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on India “to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir”. On August 07, Prime Minister Imran Khan called upon the international community to not to watch on as bystanders to the genocide in IoK at the hands of Indian government. “Will we watch another appeasement of fascism, this time in the garb of BJP government?” he tweeted. He asked the world to have the moral courage to stop the genocide from taking place. The United States said on August 08 that it supports direct dialogue between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue and called for calm and restraint.
PM Imran has said war was not an option but Pakistan needed to tell the world about what was happening in occupied Kashmir. “We were heard for the first time after Pulwama and now the world has started to understand the gravity of this issue,” he noted. “Modi has actually committed a blunder and it will give fresh impetus to the indigenous freedom struggle, leading to the liberation of Kashmir”, he added.
China is gravely concerned about situation in occupied Kashmir, senior diplomat Wang Yi said on August 09, following a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Wang added that China would continue to support Pakistan to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests at the UNSC. China has urged India and Pakistan to avoid unilateral actions, and seek a new path of peaceful coexistence. Amnesty International India has criticised the revocation of the special status of the IOK. Amnesty International India chief Aakar Patel said the additional deployment of “thousands of security forces”, a blanket blockade of telephone and internet services and restrictions on peaceful assembly already “pushed the people of IOK to the edge.” “To make matters worse, key political stakeholders have been placed under house arrest,” he added.
So far, Pakistan’s reaction has been natural, timely and measured, instead of severing diplomatic ties, it only downgraded it just by one step, stopping the trade does not have any worthwhile impact on either economy. Decision of closing the airspace would have pained India, but Pakistan has still not given effect to this option. Pakistan has announced that it would review bilateral arrangements with India. Pakistan and India have a number of bilateral arrangements. At this stage, there is no clarity which bilateral agreements Pakistan intends to review with India.
Pakistan’s government is under tremendous domestic pressure for tangible actions. It will have to act sooner or later; however, earlier the better. Pakistan has many viable options. No P-5 country is likely to veto a UNSC resolution asking India for reversing its recent steps, Pakistan is also likely to accrue a favourable ruling by ICJ, even if India boycotts the court proceedings. Verdict by the Indian Supreme Court, however remains unpredictable due to track record of sectarian polarization amongst its judges on some earlier decisions impacting Muslims as a community.
—The writer is a freelance columnist based in Islamabad.