AS THEY say when Nature wishes to destroy someone, it deprives him of his marbles. That is perhaps why Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has started talking openly about India’s clandestine designs to create unrest in Pakistan, especially in Gilgit-Baltistan and the already troubled province of Balochistan.
Modi had won the 2014 general elections by contesting it on an unusually hateful anti-Pakistan platform. Next, he fought the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) polls later the same year purely on religious basis missing the majority by only three seats with PDP of Mufti Saeed capturing 28 seats and Modi’s BJP 25. He was, therefore, forced to enter into a PDP-led coalition government on the condition that he would not try to upset the existing constitutional arrangement between IHK and India through the backdoor (i.e. by forcibly converting the Muslim majority Valley into a Hindu majority region).
But being what he is and what he had already decided to do, he did try rather blatantly to facilitate a demographic change in the Valley by encouraging the Pandits of Jammu and other non-Muslim Kashmiris who had migrated to India over the last several years to return and settle in the Valley by purchasing property in the Muslim majority part of IHK.
This was what had actually triggered the current Intifada in the IHK which has now turned into a strident cry for independence as New Delhi continued to punish the IHK Muslim majority by depriving it economically, especially denying its youth gainful employment, for what Modi calls as its ‘intransigence’. The barefaced killing of the youthful freedom fighter Burhan Wani had only served as the last straw on the camel’s back.
What is happening in the IHK today is a classic case of the failure of India’s so-called democracy. No true democracy would have failed to win over a handful of people seeking their fundamental right to self-determine their political, economic and social fate.
Instead of letting the IHK people self-determine how they would like to live, New Delhi in fact has kept on depriving them by degrees the level of independence India’s Constitution had granted them under Article 370. Today the IHK is being treated by New Delhi as its colony forcibly occupied by armed- to- teeth Indian troops numbering perhaps nearly 700,000.
During the cold war, it was the veto of the now defunct Soviet Union that had enabled India to escape implementation of the relevant UN resolution for letting the people of Kashmir to self-determine their political fate. And now using the advantage of having a huge market New Delhi seems to have neutralized the US—the self -proclaimed champions of democracy.
So, with the rich world eating out of its hands and a Pakistan seemingly sliding fast into isolation India perhaps seems to have decided it was time to come out in the open about its regional intentions which simply put amount to destroying Pakistan from inside.
But by openly discussing his covert intentions in Balochistan and GB Modi is actually conceding that he is engaged in a losing battle in the IHK. He is in panic and his latest outburst on August 15, India’s 70th independence anniversary amounts to nothing more than what is called whistling in the dark. He is terrified; otherwise he would not have used an august occasion to make public an immoral and evil scheme that India has unleashed to harm neighboring Pakistan.
But this outburst or for that matter his public pronouncements about what he intends to do to meet the challenge he is facing in IHK are not going to solve his problems. His National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval has already made public India’s spying plans for Pakistan. Also, Pakistan never had any illusions about India. What Ajit disclosed last year or what his PM has done this year we already knew and we have been meeting this challenge head on since a long time.
What had actually made our task seemingly not so successful in this regard was the resounding success of India in making it appear to the world that the ‘insurgency’ in IHK was not an indigenous movement but was being fomented by Pakistan using a combination to its premier intelligence agency, the Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) agency, its regular troops and its non-state actors called the Jihadi groups. And the Kargil misadventure by the dim-witted General Musharraf had all but proved India’s case as we publicly ordered our troops to withdraw from the Kargil heights.
However, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since Kargil and now; India is finding it increasingly impossible to make its accusation stick. And perhaps that is why in panic Modi has exposed his hand for the entire world to see.
Like in the past when finding no way out of the IHK jam the past governments in New Delhi were forced to come to Pakistan seeking an equitable resolution of Kashmir issue Modi is also likely to do the same when he realizes, sooner than later, that on his own he would not be able to stop the bloodshed in the IHK.
In the past when former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee tried to seek Pakistan’s help in resolving the issue once when he undertook the bus yatra to Lahore and next when he invited President Musharraf to Agra for a summit, it was Pakistan which caused the opportunity to slip out of hands as on both occasions it was the dim-witted Pakistani President General Musharraf who sabotaged the attempts.
The third time when things appeared to be moving in the right direction it was India’s foot-dragging that caused it to be aborted with Musharraf and Manmohan Singh losing their respective offices—the former was forced to resign in 2008 and the latter lost the 2014 general elections.
The two were working on what is called the Manmohan-Musharraf four-stage formula. According to claims of Manmohan’s special envoy, Satinder Lambah the former Indian Prime Minister had consistently advocated a solution that did not seek to redraw the border or amend the Constitution, but one that made the boundary irrelevant, enabled commerce, communication, contacts and development of the Kashmiri people on both sides and that ends the cycle of violence.
The vision that Mr Lambah outlined for a solution are clearly recognisable as the contours of the Manmohan-Musharraf four-step formula.
The points that the formula highlights are: it is important that military forces on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) are kept to the minimum, especially in populated areas; it is imperative that the people of Jammu and Kashmir on either side of the LoC should be able to move freely from one side to the other; it is important to ensure self-governance for internal management in all areas on the same basis on both sides of the LoC, and Jammu and Kashmir can, with the active encouragement of the governments of India and Pakistan, work out a cooperative and consultative mechanism to maximise the gains of cooperation in solving problems of social and economic development of the region. It should be possible to do so to enable it to look into socio-economic issues like tourism, travel, pilgrimages to shrines, trade, health, education and culture.
This vision could form the basis of talks for which the PM’s advisor on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz has already extended invitation to the Indian government and the foreign secretary following up has written a letter to his Indian counterpart.
It is hoped that India would not let this opportunity too to slip out of hand just because it does not suit the politics of Mr Modi. Indeed, there is no future for the kind of politics Modi wants to pursue. Pakistan has also learnt its lessons the hard way and its leadership, both political and security knows that there is no future in the politics of perpetual confrontation.