Shafaqna Special: What are the implications for India after BJP’s move?

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Shafaqna Pakistan: Still the world is shocked and Muslims are awed by the Modi’s leap on Kashmir however it could have serious implications for the the India. 

The Kashmir move—although widely telegraphed in Modi’s latest reelection campaign—is likely to cause unrest and represents a sea change in Indian policy toward a region beset by civil war.

It could also further tensions with Pakistan, which has long sought to internationalize its dispute with India over Kashmir.

Reasonable people can disagree about whether or not Article 370 and 35A have been good for the Indian nation. But what shouldn’t be lost is that the ban on communications, cutting off access for the press, and the pre-emptive house arrest of legitimate political leaders of the major opposition parties flies in the face of standard democratic practice.

It’s very hard to imagine how such actions could be taken in any other democratic country without great consternation on the part of the judiciary. It suggests a willingness to flout basic norms of democracy in ways that are troubling for a government that has the kind of power and the kind of mandate that this government has. And if they’re willing to step over the line so egregiously, what happens next? What happens four years from now?

The opposition is already divided on this. Prominent opposition leaders that have typically been fairly anti-Modi have come out in support of the decision. The media’s going to be very, very pro-government, very gung ho.

What will be interesting is whether any states try to check what is happening at the center. There will be some states—in the northeast, some in the south—who are not part of the BJP fold who might be looking at this and saying this is a pretty terrifying precedent from a federalist perspective. If the union government can overnight strip a state of its state status and turn it into a union territory without so much as parliamentary debate, what does that mean for us?

Let’s talk about that that longer-term question. There’s some who fear that the Modi government is trying to encourage the settlement of Hindus in Kashmir and change demographic conditions on the ground. What do the events of the past day tell you about those concerns?

Part of the government’s and its supporters’ key talking points is the right of return of a group that is often referred to as “Kashmiri Pandits.” The Kashmiri Pandits are group of Hindu residents of Kashmir that largely fled in the early 1990s, late 1980s when the violence in the Kashmir valley reached a new level. The government was unable or unwilling to provide them the protections required so that they could live safely in the places that they had resided for generations. These people lost their land. They lost their homes. And this remains a scar for them.

And that has been very much adopted as a talking point among a lot of those people who would support today’s decision.

No serious political leader has ever suggested that these individuals should not have the full right of return. The question is whether the conditions on the ground would actually support them being able to come back safely.

But scrapping 35A will fuel concerns about whether this is an effort to change the texture of Kashmir, to allow people who weren’t part of the permanent resident class in Kashmir to buy land and come in. It allows an influx of people from other parts of India, presumably non-Muslims, to come and settle and that over time you will have a different complexion to the Kashmir valley.

This is not simply domestic policy. It’s domestic policy with very real foreign-policy implications. In the last 24 hours, the Modi government did not take any local Kashmiri politicians or civil society leaders the press into confidence. This may drive Kashmiris to be more sympathetic toward the separatists who have been waging war within their borders for the last 70 years and will embolden Pakistan to continue to provide arms and other support to the extremists that would fuel violence in the regions.

The Indian government has sent an estimated additional 25,000 troops to Kashmir, which is already one of the most militarized areas of the world.

The concern is that some will take this as an opportunity to play spoiler and attack troops, attack pilgrims. Extremist terrorists may attack vulnerable targets or attack troops as a way of ramping up tensions, forcing the Indian government to respond militarily, and creating that spiral of violence that they benefit from.

The violence is not carried out by average Kashmiri citizens. The violence is carried out by extremists who are always looking for the right environment in which to cause violence.

The separatists will get a great boost. It gives them a talking point: We’ve been telling you for all this time that the Indian government doesn’t see you as one of them, and doesn’t respect Kashmiri identity.

The timing comes after President Trump talked about the United States mediating in Kashmir and the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. Both of which, to put it mildly, annoyed Delhi significantly.

Early on, when Mr. Trump became president, there was real optimism in Delhi that he would be good for India because he seemed to be taking a tough position vis-a-vis Pakistan. But he’s not been consistent on that.

This Move will definitely have long implications for not only India but for the region as well.