Kashmir–fuel in the fire?

Kashmir–fuel in the fire?

India´s decision to abolish the autonomy status of Indian Kashmir has caused a heated debate in the West and abroad. First about the motives: Some expert think that this decision was another indicator for the Modi-BJP-goverment´s Hinduization policy against Muslims. The victory in the klast elections would have fuelled Hindunationalism. Other expert think that this decision originates from Pakistan´s support for Islamist and seperatist groups in Indian Kashmir, as well as because of the last terrorist attack which caused an Indian crossborder military attack and a paradigm shift towards a new muscular India. Dr. Seidt, former German ambassador to Afghanistan claims that the Kashmir decision was because Trump´s Afghanistan policy and the peace talks with the Taliban which in reality  would favour Pakistan and its policy of a strategic deep hinterland in Afghanistan and that the Kashmir decision was a revenge for that to counterbalance this geopolitical shift.

Inian former general Asthana declared on the Kashmir subject:

“ The time for abrogation of Article has nothing much to do with President Trump. It happened now because it was first time in last 20 years that ruling party was in a position to get more than Two third majority in both houses of Parliament. The ill effects were known to all governments, but they did not have such mandate except once in last 30 years, but that time ruling party had coalition with local parties, hence the political will was not strong enough. This time the majority of Indians voted for the ruling party with national security as most important agenda, and Abrogation of article in their manifesto. This was also the time when parliament was in session; hence it was done by following due constitutional and parliamentary process. Hong Kong is a coincidence. Mediation of anyone was never accepted irrespective of which Government was in power. This was also the time when Governor rule existed. So it was an ideal date. No boundary/Loc/LAC has been changed, and this law (Article 370) was made under Indian Constitution as temporary provision, hence its internal matter of India and India is under no obligation to pay heed to any other interpretation.In any case it is history now. “  

However, many expert doubt the wisdom of this decision. Most expert think that the abolishment of autonomy will spark and fuel conflicts in Kashmir and with Pakistan, be supportive to Islamism and seperatism, will cause more terrorist attacks and cross border reactions between the two nuclear nations and therefore is a negative and extremly dangerous decision. The abolishment of the autonomy status means also that Indians now can buy and own land in Kashmir. Some experts think that this will bring a similiar conflict to Kashmir as we witness with Israeli settlers to the West Jordanland. These Indian settlers will be perceived by the Kashmir people as occupiers and alien force which will be also targets of terrorist attacks which in return will bring more repression and violence to Kashmir and cross border conflicts, while India perceives Kashmir as an integral part of all Indians. Pakistan already tries to internationalize the Kashmir conflict.The Pakistan military and political hardliner as well as Islamists already talk about a war, while Pakistan´s prime minister Imran Khan tries to deescalate the conflict.

It will be interesting to see which position the USA, China, Russia and the EU will take in the conflict as India refuses an internationalization of the conflict and till now has rejected international mediators as it perceives Kashmir to be an internal affair of India. As India and Pakistan are also members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, it will be interesting if this regional security organization will be able to handle the conflict managment and act as an mediator or if this conflict will bring conflicts within the SCO as China is more supportive to Pakistan as Russia is more to India. Will Russia and China play a positive role as a mediator between the two parties?

Mainstream Indians claim that the historical decision was not because of external factors. Former Indian Generals Asthana wrote:

“ In one line I can say that it is an internal reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir aimed for better governance. It’s not a fallout of any recent external factor. It’s purely an internal matter, with steps taken as per democratic parliamentary procedure in consonance with the Indian Constitution. „

Hoewever, the mainstream Indian point of view and that of the Modi goverment is that the autonomy status did not ease terrorism and seperatist activities as it created illusions about a seperation and independence of Indian Kashmir. To abolish this status would also be the end of this illusion as Kashmir became another Indian state controlled by the central goverment and integrated in India. A clear cut–a „historical decision“as Modi said. Modi and his supporters think that of course there will be some riots and protests of Kashmiris and Pakistan, however Pakistan won´t start a war about Kashmir as both nations had nuclear weapons. Modi also claimed that he would start huge infrastructure buildings in Indian Kashmir, erase poverty and develop the state economically as it was one of the underdeveloped states in India.

Some experts even think that there exists an inofficial agreement between the Chinese and the Indian goverment. China wants to build its China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor as part of its New Silkroad via Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Therefore it is interested in stability in Kashmir and also between Pakistan and India and will therefore pressure Pakistan not to escalate the conflict or create instability. As Pakistan is in a debt trap with China and nearly bankrupt and dependent from foreign loans and aid as well as IMF programmes, it had a fundamental interest in economic development. Modi as the Chinese also think that a lot of the seperatism, terrorism and Islamism has social roots as poverty and that the best way is to develop these regions economically.

At the moment the Pakistan goverment under Imram Khan declared, that it is not interested in a war with India and that Pakistan will use diplomatic and economic means and the support of the international community and the UNO to protest against India´s new Kashmir law. That sounds moderate and hopefully hardliners in Pakistan politics, ISI and military can be moderated also by Chinese pressure. The best way was that Pakistan accepts that Indian Kashmir is a integral part of India, stop the border conflicts and abolish revanchist ambitions as Germany did when it accepted the Oder/Neisse frontier with Poland and Eastern Europe.

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