What Pakistan can do

THE Modi government’s move to
scuttle Article 370 and 35A was
anticipated. Yet when it happened, it
came as a shock.
Reaction by Pakistan has been sharp
while response internationally is so far
predictably muted. This reaction and
response will evolve with time especially
as the Kashmiri voices currently stifled
are heard and the youth uprising
gripping the Kashmir Valley revives
with the weakening of the unsustainable

Draconian military clampdown in India-
held Kashmir.

So what are the implications of the
move and what are the challenges and
options for Pakistan?
The immediate and far-reaching
consequence of the Indian move is
the rapture of diplomatic and political
interaction between Pakistan and India.
With formal Indian annexation of held
Kashmir, from Pakistan’s point of view,
the heart of any dialogue process for
normalisation has been removed. The
faint hope for a reasonable settlement
based on optimum self-governance
for Kashmiris and protection of
vital interests of the two countries
is extinguished. And so is gone the
possibility of any workable joint

arrangement for Siachen and Sir Creek to
underpin a new cooperative paradigm for
bilateral relations. Prime Minister Imran
Khan’s offer “you move one step, we
will move two” is rendered meaningless.
Ahead lies a path fraught with tension,
risks and dangers.
The Bharatiya Janata Party move is
likely to be challenged in the Indian
Supreme Court, but chances of a reversal
or a remedy are next to nothing. What
can force the Indian government to
eventually take a step back will be the
determination of the Kashmiri people
to thwart Indian designs, especially
demographic change. They will need to
be steadfast in the face of every possible
BJP tactic, massive use of brute force,
massacres, political manipulation and
economic incentives. Today Kashmiri
leaders in the Valley, including the
veteran pro-India personalities, display a
rare unity in rejecting the Indian move.
They need to convert this unity into a
strong coalition for non-cooperation
and resistance. Kashmiri diaspora in the
UK and the US has a critical role to play,
and herein lies one of the challenges for
Pakistani politics and diplomacy.
Pakistan has vowed to go to any extent
in support of the Kashmiris. War is no
option, but if imposed it may become
unavoidable. Barring that apocalyptic

scenario, arguably, Pakistani options
appear to be limited but they must be put
into play in a sustained manner. We must
continue to agitate about the situation
as it develops at all international forums
including the UN Security Council
regardless of whether or not the UNSC
is able to give it consideration. Such
support, even if lacking in the desired
results, will be necessary for the Kashmiri
morale. We must take the Kashmir
case to every human rights forum. Our
initiatives should be well considered but
undeterred by possible setbacks; we are in
for a long haul. If the situation worsens,
the international community will have to
take notice.
Pakistan will come under pressure
to extend material help beyond
diplomatic support if the Kashmiris
face genocide. The Kashmiri struggle
for self-determination has echoes of
the past anti-colonial struggles which
for success often depended on outside
help. However, we have the experience
of the 1990s when infiltration of Jihadi
elements was used by India to effectively
malign and distort the indigenous
Kashmiri uprising. Since then, India
keeps justifying its repressive measures
in Kashmir as counter-terrorism. This
poses inevitable dilemma, but Pakistan
must not allow India this pretext to
misrepresent the Kashmiri struggle

September 2019 23

internationally. This is irrespective of our
own counter-terrorism commitments
including those in the context of
Financial Action Task Force.
No amount of Delhi’s contrived
explanations for the abrogation of the
special status of the occupied Valley can
conceal the fact that it is a step towards
the implementation of BJP’s aggressive

and sinister Hindutva ideology with neo-
fascist undertones. BJP stalwarts make

no bones about their intentions.
This poses an almost existential challenge
to not just the Kashmiri Muslims but
also to the Muslims and other religious
minorities in India. Pakistan also faces a
grave threat. Kashmiris have a protracted
struggle before them for preserving

their identity and achieving self-
determination. Indian Muslims have to

address the challenge within the context
of their own political circumstances

and in step with segments of the Indian
population whose future depends on the
espousal of values of secularism and a
pluralistic society.
Besides the responsibilities that the
Kashmiri struggle will place on it,
Pakistan faces two distinct dangers:
direct intervention in Azad Jammu
and Kashmir or Gilgit and Baltistan or
subversion in these territories and inside
Pakistan. Direct intervention would mean
war with incalculable consequences.
Subversion is a real possibility that
may warrant preemptive political
and administrative measures besides
vigilance. We are not handicapped to take
any advisable measures in consultation
with the people, government and
administration in these territories, if
necessary with the proviso similar to that
adopted in the case of Pakistan-China
boundary agreement that any agreed
arrangement would be subject to a review

in the remote eventuality of a Kashmir
Hindutva raises larger questions for
South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.
India is seen as a major power, but,
under Modi, it is actively seeking the
status of a regional hegemon. However,
no nuclear power has accepted another
power’s hegemony, and Pakistan is
not and cannot be an exception to this
reality. On the other hand, the aspiring
hegemon will be encouraged by the
dismal predicament evident in our frail
economy, political dysfunction, narrow
technological and knowledge base. This
state of affairs will also be dispiriting
for the Kashmiris and for South Asian
Muslims with whom we have shared
history of the freedom struggle. Our
strength will help equanimity in South
Asia. Therein lies the greatest challenge
we face as a society, as a nation and as a

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