IN attempting to illegally annex India-held Kashmir and then mocking its people with claims that it was for their own good, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has only ensured that the cycle of violence in IHK will intensify in the months and years to come. There are fears — mostly based on gross and vulgar utterances of saffron zealots, including the chief minister of Haryana — that IHK would now be turned into a Bantustan on the model of occupied Palestine. For decades, the Palestinians have suffered at the hands of their Israeli tormentors — just as the Kashmiri people have been subjected to an unspeakable ordeal with long spells of Indian military control over their lives. And just as the Palestinians have been let down by so many world leaders — including their own Arab brethren whom they trusted — the Kashmiris too have seen few actively support their cause.
Pakistan has always stood by them in their quest for azadi from the Indian yoke. China has also expressed its outrage at Mr Modi’s rash move. In fact, China’s officially patronised Global Times noted in an editorial on Monday that India is “too reckless on border issues” and keeps on breaking “status quo”, impacting the regional situation. It also said that India continued to challenge the surrounding countries’ interests, and expected them to “swallow the provocation and accept the new facts made by India”, and that it was unimaginable for Pakistan not to take “strong countermeasures”. But other than a few voices of protest, there has been a lukewarm response from the world community to India’s hubris and the recent events in the occupied region. As indicated in these columns earlier, the demands of realpolitik and global economics have taken precedence over human rights, justice and fair play. Unless Pakistan and other parties that have a feel for democracy step up their efforts to engage robustly with the diplomatic community on the issue, Mr Modi’s reckless act is unlikely to be challenged.
Meanwhile, the debate on the reasons for Mr Modi’s move continues. It could be that Mr Modi needs a distraction from the severe economic crisis looming over India. It is possible that he sees in IHK a potential to plunder virgin territory on behalf of high-profile tycoons who had shored up his candidature to become prime minister in 2014, and who financed his controversial re-election last May. Another obvious motivation for inflicting more pain on Kashmir is that it helps his party spread the virus of Hindu chauvinism by framing the issue as one concerning ‘Muslim terrorism’. Mr Modi may have calculated that that there are too many distractions in the world currently with its myriad problems of right-wing surge, ascendant racism and troubled economies for people to take notice of the perfidy in occupied Kashmir. It is unfortunate that the latter assumption may be correct.
Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2019