“Disempowering” people of Kashmir


Ali Anwar

Modi’s only quantifiable achievement has been splitting India across political, religious, cultural, and sectarian lines like never before

Regional People’s Democratic Party (PDP) President and former chief minister of Occupied Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, only confirmed what Pakistan had been warning about all along when she said that the Indian government was creating proxy political parties in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The purpose, which has dawned on her only too late, is clearly to make the unconstitutional decisions of August 5, 2019, constitutional in the assembly.
She probably hasn’t realised yet or had and hasn’t expressed it so far that this drive to legitimise the disenfranchisement of Kashmiris through the assembly is also the first of many steps, which aim to completely change the demographics of the valley. Soon, she and many like her will notice large groups of Hindu pandits relocating to Kashmir in a bid to change the religious balance of the region in the long run and deprive the Muslims of their majority, on which stands their entire claim of siding with Pakistan.
Mufti has been upset about Delhi’s actions since August 2019. Just like others like her who once gladly batted for the Indian government, she was shocked at being ditched without the slightest hint because the BJP government had run out of cards and this was the one sure way for it to rally its ranks once again. Yet her anger, and now her warnings, only prove that Pakistan’s apprehensions were spot on.
Sadly the Modi government can do all this right under the nose of the international community, which never tires of claiming to protect the rights of downtrodden citizens across the world, because of India’s large and lucrative market that blinds the rich and powerful countries from sorting it out. Even as evidence of Pakistan’s correct analysis of the situation mounts, and Indian allies in Kashmir accept this fact, there is still no sign about any sort of international pressure bearing down on Delhi anytime soon.
For its part, Pakistan has been doing the right thing all along. It has exposed India’s excesses, both before and after the abrogation of Article 370, at all important international forums. And when push came to shove and there was a dogfight between the air forces of the two countries in the skies over Kashmir in early 2019, it was the Pakistani side that taught the Indian side a lesson it won’t soon forget. Pakistan could easily have rubbed salt into India’s wounds by detaining their downed pilot – squeezing information out of him and parading him in chains for the world to see – but it chose to be the bigger party in the conflict and promptly released the captured pilot as a gesture of goodwill. The idea, of course, was to make India realise that despite the leverage to take the fight to an uglier level, Pakistan was taking the first bigger step towards peace. Any other country would have returned the gesture by returning to the negotiating table. But the Indian government, ably aided by its savage media, chose to spin even that incident around to fuel fires of hatred among its pro-Hindutva adherents.
Despite all these clever moves, signs are emerging that show that Modi did not think his Kashmir strategy through to its end. The first sign that confirms this belief is people like Mufti, who once sat in the lap of Delhi, have admitted that they’ve been conned and have started speaking out about it. This shows that the Modi government’s plans of creating proxy parties and fiddling with the demographics of the region are going to meet very stiff resistance. Even in parliament in New Delhi, the opposition Congress party has not accepted the way the Kashmir strategy is playing out. And while it has no problems with the way the BJP is a thorn in Pakistan’s side, it hasn’t quite swallowed the way Article 370 was revoked and plans to put up a stiff fight whenever and wherever possible.
So far, Modi’s only quantifiable achievement has been splitting India across political, religious, cultural, and sectarian lines like never before. And even the one point on which the entire country agreed, more because of the friction with Pakistan than anything else, has now also become a bone of contention. Slowly, this problem will grow with Pakistan reminding the world at each step that it had warned about all this long ago, and Kashmir’s freedom struggle will reach Delhi itself.
The Kashmir issue has remained on the burner for far too long. But now, it is very slowly becoming clear that India’s August 2019 step, which it took for a game-changing charge, was an overstep that has already begun backfiring. There’s no doubt that the Kashmiri people will never be deterred by these antics and their fight will continue till freedom is won. There can also be no doubt whatsoever that the government and people of Pakistan will stand by them every step of the way.
Mehbooba Mufti’s grievances are only the first of many setbacks that the Modi administration must now prepare for.