What’s in store for Jammu and Kashmir?


The government of India under the leadership of Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a controversial move to scrap power from the only Muslim-majority state of the country potentially igniting unrest is the area.

Since 1949, Article 370 of the Indian Constitution gave near-autonomous authority to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and a portion of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) to conduct its own affairs. Basically, the state governs itself and is under the control of the Centre only in some areas like defense. In fact, it even had its own constitution and flag.

This will all rest in the history books now. Now, the government had turned J&K from a state to a union territory. This means that now the central government will have much control in the affairs of the area. Along with this, J&K has been split into two federal territories: a new state with its own legislature (Jammu and Kashmir); and scarcely populated and mountainous region of Ladakh which won’t be having a legislature.

And this has become highly controversial because the government has stripped power from a territory that has enjoyed “luxury” powers for decades. This is why the announcement of Shah was met by humongous jeers from the opposition.

Broadly, India has now changed the entire demographics of the state without any interruption from our neighbors. Indian army is already deployed in large numbers in Kashmir but as a measure of precaution against the violence, thousands of extra troops have been sent. Along with this, all the schools and colleges have been closed; tourists have been evacuated; major political leaders are under house arrest and internet connectivity has been cut off. In short, the state is on lockdown.

Does this mean the one of the most sought after a dispute of the world is all set to become even more contentious soon? Let’s scratch the surface and try and understand this dispute and its dynamics.

Kashmir has been a Muslim-majority region which was partitioned between two countries in 1947 and has been a major debatable issue between the two countries since then, even causing two wars between the countries. So, the last thing you want to do is to make this hair-trigger situation even worse. Well, this is exactly what the government has done just now.

So the last thing on this planet one would want to do is make a hair-trigger situation even worse, right? But that’s exactly what India’s government has just done. This decision by the central government will also fulfil the longstanding goal of the ruling party which they wanted to achieve since the 90s that is to change the status of J&K.

Michael Kugelman, an India expert at the Wilson Center, Washington, said “Non-Hindus, and in particular, the Muslim minority, stand to lose out from this.” “The repeal of Article 370 is a big manifestation of Hindu nationalism, as it represents an effort to bring India’s only Muslim-majority region into the union of India so that the nation’s Hindu majority can invest, acquire land there, and so on.

No wonder, the former Chief Minister of J&K Mehbooba Mufti, who was under house arrest tweeted that this “marks the darkest day in Indian democracy.

As some experts believe that Modi government is likely to keep making such risky moves, all credit to newfound immense support for the Prime Minister. This is why; we wonder what may come next?

India and Pakistan have gone to war four times since 1947, when Britain partitioned what had been a single colony into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan,” wrote Tom Hundley for Vox. “They have been in a state of constant hostility ever since, and for the past two decades, they have been locked in a frightening nuclear arms race on land.

In March this year, a militant group based in Pakistan carried out a suicide bombing which killed many Indian soldiers in Pulwama region of Kashmir. Days later, the Indian Army launched an airstrike on the Pakistani territory attacking the training facility of the group. This was the first time that Indian warplanes crossed the border since the 1970s.

While the situation calmed with time, tensions in the area are still at a boil. Partially, this is because of the fact that both India and Pakistan have nuclear nations. The worry is that any further escalation will put the nations into a conventional war zone which can turn into a nuclear one. The chances of such event are thinner but the reactions of Pakistani leaders don’t give much confidence.

Shahbaz Sharif, President of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz political party said “We will go to every extent to defend the human rights and legal rights of Kashmiris. Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan, and anyone laying a hand on our jugular vein and honor will meet a frightful end.

Even if the tensions calm down, this is very unlikely, keeping the current scenario in mind. It must almost imperative that Modi-led government is going to back off on Kashmir issue. And this is going to inspire many more controversial choices over the next five year period; some of them will definitely hurt Pakistan.

In a nutshell, problems in Kashmir – on a broader spectrum the India-Pakistan issue are all set to worsen.


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