Daily Briefing: Indian PM Modi Revokes Kashmir’s Special Status Thrusting it into an Uncertain Future (August 22,2019)


Disputed Territory of Kashmir 
(Source: Wikipedia)


Table of Contents:

Why Kashmir Matters – Analysis: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 5, 2019

Inside Kashmir’s Crisis—And What Happens Next: Elias Groll, Foreign Policy, Aug. 5, 2019

The Kashmir Challenge: Muhammad Amir Rana, Dawn, Aug. 11, 2019 

Why is No One Boycotting India?: Stephen Daisley, The Spectator, Aug. 8, 2018


Why Kashmir Matters – Analysis
Seth J. Frantzman
Jerusalem Post, Aug. 5, 2019

Over the weekend, officials in Kashmir warned Hindu pilgrims of impending attacks in the area. This sent thousands of tourists and pilgrims, and even local workers, fleeing the region. Reports said that up to 220,000 workers had left, which appeared like a crisis that came out of the blue. Now the real story appears to be a much more wide-ranging decision by India to change the status of Kashmir.

According to CNN, the area was on lockdown with tens of thousands of troops deployed and politicians under “house arrest.” The Indian government on Monday scrapped Article 370 that gave Kashmir a special status. It is actually more complex than that. The government of India wants to also “bifurcate” the state – previously known as Jammu and Kashmir – into two new areas, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, according to the Times of India.

Article 370 is a result of conflicts that broke out after India and Pakistan were created when British colonial India was divided in 1947. An Indian Constitution of 1950 included special status for Jammu and Kashmir. A Constituent Assembly elected in the state in 1951 created a local constitution and the article, which was initially thought to be temporary, remained. This has meant special status for Kashmir where several conflicts have been fought, particularly between India and Pakistan and between India and Pakistan-supported militants and Islamist extremists.

Unsurprisingly, this seemingly intractable conflict seems a lot like the kinds of conflicts Israel has had with its neighbors, which were also partly the result of a failed partition plan that came out of British colonial rule. Like some of the special status concepts that were once thought applicable to Jerusalem or other areas, the Kashmir conflict is one of those legacies of colonial rule in which ad hoc ideas about easily partitioning areas lead to endless tension and an inability of the sudden iron-clad notion of borders drawn long ago to be changed. What was thought temporary, becomes permanent. In this case, it relates to forms of autonomy in Kashmir, which is also a heavily militarized region. Bloombergnotes that India’s leading Bharatiya Janata Party wanted to change Article 370 years ago.

The problem is that tensions are already high with Pakistan. Clashes in February led to an Indian fighter jet being shot down. India had sought to carry out a precision airstrike against terrorists based in Pakistan. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned on Sunday that a crisis could erupt over Kashmir. He seemed to be predicting the Article 370 tensions that arrived 24 hours later. But his warning was directed at US President Donald Trump who he asked to mediate. He said that the situation on the Line of Control, the area Pakistan occupies in Kashmir, could blow up. He has accused India of new aggressive actions, according to The Hindu. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Inside Kashmir’s Crisis—And What Happens Next
Elias Groll
Foreign Policy, Aug. 5, 2019

With his decision on Monday to revoke the historic autonomy of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thrust the province into a new and uncertain future. By revoking Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, Modi’s government stripped the province of its relative legislative independence and placed the province under the direct rule of the central government in New Delhi.

The move—although widely telegraphed in Modi’s recent 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. To better understand this volatile situation, Foreign Policy spoke with Irfan Nooruddin, a scholar of Indian politics who is a professor at Georgetown University and directs the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, D.C. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Foreign Policy: Why is the Indian government making this move now?

Irfan Nooruddin: The concern about Kashmir and in particular Article 370 and the special status of Kashmir has long been a talking point for the Indian right-wing and in particular the Bharatiya Janata Party and its supporters, who have often argued that Article 370 is an example of the appeasement of Indian Muslims and of the special considerations provided to them. This has been part of the platform and manifesto of the BJP and the family of Hindu right-wing organizations for decades.

The fact that the Modi government has come to power with a massive mandate was probably interpreted as a vindication of its muscular response to the terror attacks earlier this year and the subsequent airstrikes on the Pakistani town of Balakot and an alleged training camp there. So the government probably thinks that it has the remit to finally deliver on what a large part of its base has wanted for a very long time. And this is the time to do it and to do it very quickly.

More cynically, one might argue that this is in response to the recent drumbeat of pretty bad economic news coming out of India and a muted, even disappointed response to the government’s first budget.

This is a good move to shift the narrative. It burnishes Mr. Modi’s strongman image and moves the conversation about an economic slowdown and problems with the budget off the front page. For the foreseeable future, the news cycle will be all about Kashmir.

FP: What role does the Kashmir question play in Modi’s political project and Hindu right-wing politics today?

IN: Accommodating and recognizing explicitly the special status of Kashmir was a very tangible symbol of India’s accommodation of religious difference and a real effort to make sure that Kashmiris felt incorporated and integrated within India by a recognition of the special circumstances under which Kashmir came to be part of India.
This flies in the face of the Modi project, which is to really reinvent India as an India that is Hindu. A special status for Kashmir violates that.

FP: Can you explain how the two articles of the Indian Constitution, articles 35A and 370, that are being done away with function?

IN: Article 35A allowed the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to decide who could be a resident of the state and therefore who received a particular set of special rights and privileges, particularly land-owning within the state. In a very broad sense, it controlled more explicitly than in any other state who would be allowed to be a resident in Kashmir.
Article 370 provided special status to the state and restricted the central government’s legislative powers to defense, foreign affairs, and communications. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

The Kashmir Challenge
Muhammad Amir Rana
Dawn, Aug. 11, 2019 

The Indian revocation of the special status of occupied Jammu & Kashmir has shut down almost all prospects for it to resolve the issue through dialogue, either with the Kashmiri leadership or with Pakistan. One wonders if India did not have any alternatives other than what it has already demonstrated in the form of strict security measures, communication blackouts, and draconian administrative measures to run the affairs of J&K.

The use of some counter-violent extremism, or CVE, terms like ‘reintegration’ and ‘mainstreaming’ by India’s policymakers and political circles suggest they consider the entire IHK population to be radical. Apparently, India is missing the mega blueprint to absorb the shocks of the measures it has taken to ‘fix’ the Kashmir issue once and for all.

Obviously in the absence of such plans, an intifada would be blamed on Pakistan. This would be an easy way out for India, but would come at a cost. Not prepared to counter the Indian move to revoke the special status of IHK, Pakistan is also confronted with a delicate challenge. However, an even more critical question for Pakistan is how to respond to the emerging intifada. The dynamics of the insurgency in India-held Kashmir will be different this time.

The new intifada will have different characteristics from earlier movements. While it will mainly comprise nonviolent political expression, violent emotions will also be there. Emotions are running equally high amongst pro-independent, pro-Pakistan and ultra-radical segments of the resistance movements in occupied Kashmir. They can resort to violent actions separately or form an alliance to increase the impact of the intifada.

It is not certain how many members of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba are present in IHK and what the level of their operational capacity is. But groups like Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, an affiliate of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, are gradually making inroads into the ultra-radical militant movements in Kashmir. The AGH is also against Pakistan. The group is trying to convince other armed groups to form an independent jihad alliance against India. Recently, Al Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri had endorsed this idea. In this context, Kashmir-based armed groups like Hizbul Mujahideen will also be under intense pressure to reorganise their operational structures.

These groups can trigger a long-term resistance movement in IHK. Pakistan is morally and politically bound to support the Kashmiris. However, supporting the resistance movement will have serious consequences for Pakistan. The poor state of Pakistan’s economy, internal political crises and struggling diplomacy are factors which will limit active support to the resistance movement in IHK. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Why Is No One Boycotting India?
Stephen Daisley
The Spectator, Aug. 8, 2019

Try as I might, I just can’t seem to get anyone interested in discriminating against Indians. No one is tearing open packets of imported turmeric and cardamom and dumping their contents on supermarket floors. British academics aren’t severing ties with professors from Delhi University. If pension funds are divesting from Tata Motors and ICICI Bank, the FT is still to pick up on it.

This is strange because on Monday Narendra Modi’s right-wing government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, site of a long-running territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. Both sides claim the entirety of the state, which has been under Indian administration since Partition, and which until now has enjoyed significant political autonomy. Modi’s decision to bin almost all of Article 370 and reorganise the area into two centrally-governed ‘union territories’, comes amid increased military presence in the region and a crackdown on leaders of Kashmiri regionalist parties.

Modi’s nationalist BJP was recently re-elected with an increased majority on a platform that included stripping Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority region of the Hindu-majority country, of its special status and its power to ban non-Kashmiris from settling and buying property there. The decision to follow through with the pledge has brought censure from across the Muslim world. The Pakistani government denounced the ‘brutal Indian racist regime’ and downgraded diplomatic and economic links to New Delhi. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Contact Group on Kashmir released a statement condemning ‘illegal Indian actions’ and characterising the move as an ‘Indian attempt to strengthen its illegitimate occupation’.

Reaction from the international community has been somewhat more muted. China, which itself claims an eastern chunk of the territory in question, could only muster an ‘unacceptable’. While the White House merely noted that Modi failed to ‘consult or inform’ the US ahead of the move. That’s diplomacy for you, I suppose, but what about the bold defenders of international human rights?
Aakar Patel, Amnesty’s man in New Delhi, said India had ‘pushed the people of Jammu and Kashmir to the edge’ but his complaint centered on the fact that the affairs of Kashmir were ‘being decided by the Parliament without consultation with the people’.

The ludicrous Ken Roth echoed a wan statement from his Human Rights Watch, recognising ‘the Indian government has a responsibility to ensure security in Kashmir’ but urging them to ‘respect the human rights of everyone’, concluding with a schoolmarmish ‘bad start’, as though he was grading a book report rather than an annexation.

The humanitarians — the people who care — are nowhere to be seen on this one. Where is the international boycott movement? Where are the demonstrations through London and New York? Where are the campaigns for divestment from Indian companies and sanctions on its government? Why, in short, isn’t India receiving the full Israel treatment?

You could chalk it up to early days, but in this era of social media activism, a global movement can be sparked from a tweet or an Instagram post. The mere presence of Israelis in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) was enough to inspire boycotts of Israeli goods, de-platforming of Israeli speakers and the ostracising of Israeli and Jewish artists. India has, in effect, annexed Kashmir and the international left is too busy searching for white supremacists among the New York Times’ headline-writers to notice.  … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Further Readings:

Inside India’s Crackdown on Kashmir | The Dispatch The New York Times, Aug. 14, 2019 — A week after India stripped Kashmir of its autonomy and imposed a communications blackout, we spent Eid in Srinagar, where security forces are stopping people from moving and speaking freely.


India’s Modi Defends Moves In Kashmir As Lockdown Continues: Furkan Latif Khan, NPR, Aug. 15, 2019 –– Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed his government’s recent constitutional reform that stripped Kashmir of its statehood in a speech Thursday to mark India’s Independence Day. He said the change will bring prosperity and equality to the area.

Modi’s Decision on Kashmir Reveals a Brittleness in India:  Sadanand Dhume, The Atlantic, Aug. 14, 2019 — Nearly two decades ago, President Bill Clinton called Jammu and Kashmir “the most dangerous place in the world.”


What Did the Middle East Think of India’s Kashmir Change? Guy Burton, The Diplomat, Aug. 10, 2019 — Kashmir’s special autonomous status was challenged this week when the Indian government of Narendra Modi passed a bill revoking Article 370 of the constitution.