Implications of the Developing Situation in Kashmir

Ever since the Indian government decided to end Jammu & Kashmir’s special status, the situation in the Kashmir valley and between India and Pakistan has been tense. Under the new changes, the state of Jammu & Kashmir has now been converted into two Union territories, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, which will be administrated directly by the Central government. The government has termed these measures strictly an internal affair of India, aimed mainly to improve governance and economic development. The government’s argument is that it will help in eliminating corruption and terrorism. Addressing the nation on India's 73rd Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that “different governments made efforts in 70 years to deal with Kashmir but it did not bear results; a new approach was needed”. 

Pakistan reacted angrily, accusing India of planning a ‘demographic change’ and the further suppression of Kashmiri people. It has downgraded diplomatic ties, and stopped trade as well as bus and train services between the two countries. Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has also accused India of planning military action in areas of Kashmir under Pakistan’s administration. 

The situation in the Kashmir valley is still not fully normal. There is a huge military and paramilitary presence and communications restrictions continue. The Indian government has promised these restrictions will be eased in the coming days. There have been some reports of sporadic protests but by and large, Kashmir has remained peaceful.

Kashmir: New Era of Possibilities, Development and Opportunities
Anirban Ganguly
Kashmir will never turn into a crisis spot. India is a matured democracy. The world community is increasingly perceiving India to be a responsible, democratic and strong power conscious of her strength.

It looks like the Indian government will be able to manage the situation in the short run. However, it has to put in place a well-thought-out strategy for the long run. For some time, Pakistan will wait for the restrictions to go and hope for large protests and violence so that it can exploit the situation at international forums. To Pakistan’s dismay, so far the international response, including from the UN Security Council, has largely been in favour of both countries resolving the issue through a bilateral dialogue. 

If the issue is not sufficiently ‘internationalized’ and large violent protests do not materialise in Kashmir, Pakistan's administration may be left with the limited choice of infiltrating trained militants in Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of India in the coming months. In fact, a large number of them may be available if a peace deal is worked out in Afghanistan.

There Are Moving Parts in the Afghan Scenario
M.K. Bhadrakumar
All indications are that the peace talks between the United States and Afghanistan's Taliban have reached their home stretch. The optimism in the most recent remarks by the US Special Representative on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad conveys the impression that an agreement is imminent. The Taliban spokesmen also voiced satisfaction that an understanding with the US has been reached.

However, Islamabad is also aware that a large-scale terrorist incident in Kashmir or anywhere else in India may provoke a strong reaction from the Indian government, including cross-border action. An act of terrorism leading to an Indian response which prompts further Pakistani reaction may place the Kashmir issue on the global agenda. Through this limited adventure, Pakistan may opt to approach the word community with the argument that because of the situation in Kashmir, two nuclear-armed nations are on the verge of war. Therefore, New Delhi not only has to control the political situation in Kashmir, but also remain on guard in order to thwart any major attack launched by Pakistan-trained militants. 

Even if India gets support from the major powers, including the P5, at the moment, their support in the medium-to-long run cannot be taken for granted. They may change their position depending on the developing situation. Moreover, they are also likely to make demands in exchange for supporting India. These could take the form of foreign arms imports (Russia, US, France), the opening of markets (US, European Union), and some support for large projects such as China's Belt and Road initiative.

Kashmir's Blood, Sweat and Tears
Alexei Kupriyanov
Although at first glance this step of India has led to escalation, it may well lead to a relaxation of the situation in Kashmir. The problem is that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was in limbo for a very long time and under the current conditions it is practically unsolvable.

With the easing of restrictions, if political developments are limited to sporadic peaceful protests in Kashmir, most vocal Muslim countries and organisations (e.g. Turkey, the OIC etc.) may not go beyond releasing a few statements. Most countries in the Middle-East, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and the UAE have strong economic, political and strategic ties with India, which they may not like to jeopardize. Therefore, Indian security forces have to be very careful in handling discontent in Kashmir in the coming weeks and months. Even a small mistake could lead to serious consequences. 

Pakistan will make all efforts to involve major powers in the developing situation of Jammu & Kashmir. However, if Indian security forces are alert in averting major terrorist incidents and are able to tackle immediate discontent in a sensitive manner, most nations will not be seriously concerned. Due to increasing economic and strategic convergence with India, major powers may not say anything openly but are not going to accept easily that changes in Kashmir are purely an ‘internal affair’ of India. They will try to push for India-Pakistan dialogue as well as their individual economic and/or arms export deals. This international price also needs to be calculated while evaluating recent changes in Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmir: Reorganisation and Reintegration
Nandan Unnikrishnan
On August 5, 2019, the government of India proposed the reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, claiming that depriving it of its privileges would end a local conflict that has been going on for thirty years. Nandan Unikrishnan, Vice President and Senior Fellow of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), discussed the reasons for this decision and its possible consequences in an interview with
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.