The debilitating status quo of Jammu & Kashmir, which stuck out as a blot on our vibrant democracy, has been erased forever. One wonders why Article 370 has always been referred to as a legislation giving “Special Status” to the State; it should have been defined as a legislation giving “Unconstitutional Status” to the State. It was a blemish on the very essence of democracy, wherein, equality of all citizens is the most enduring bedrock.
Many towering political leaders and statesmen of the nation have wished to walk this path. Some did not have the will; others did not have the means (required majority). Now that it is done, one is left wondering why this could not have been done earlier. Nevertheless, better late than never and now is the time to look forward to.
Quite naturally, a momentous decision of this magnitude is bound to ruffle the feathers of many power centres, both internal and external that were enjoying benefits from the existing situation. A belligerent and robust response from such quarters is imperative and has already started registering itself. More will come as soon as the shock is absorbed.
Pakistan is already getting its act together! The newspaper headlines say it all – “Madman on the loose” (Pakistan Today); “India forcibly revokes IOK special status” (The Nation); “New Delhi sheds fig leaf....” (Dawn); these being English dailies have maintained some modicum of decorum, the vernacular has gone totally mad in abuses
The social media onslaught has been led by none other than the Pakistan Army itself; its official twitter handle @OfficialDGISPR says in two tweets, “CCC on Kashmir at GHQ. Forum fully supported Government's rejection of Indian actions regarding Kashmir.......... “Pakistan Army firmly stands by the Kashmris in their just struggle to the very end. We are prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfil our obligations in this regard,” COAS affirms.” It is astounding to note the brazenness with which the Pakistan Army has taken over the Kashmir policy of the Nation as is so evident from the tweet.
Prime Minister Imran Khan while addressing the National assembly hinted towards “more Pulwama like incidents” and the possibility of a “conventional war being triggered.” This is probably the first time that a Prime Minister has made such an open threat about the terrorist activity as a fall out of a legitimate decision taken by a foreign country with respect to its internal affairs.
Other tweets from Pakistan both official and individual are terming the move as illegal and likely to worsen the “peace and security” in the region. They are call on the international media to highlight the “atrocities and oppression” on the people of Kashmir; rumours galore of ‘shoot at sight’ orders in Kashmir are being perpetuated.
Considering the remark by the Pakistan Army Chief’s “go to any length” and the “more Pulwama-like incidents” and “conventional war” comment by Prime Minister Imran Khan, there should remain no doubt with regard to the primary source from which resistance to the move by the Government of India will flow. Pakistan Army is poised to not only invoke its massive infrastructure of militants as a riposte, it is ready to get into the fray with military, diplomatic and religious interventions.
China too has indicated that it will come out in support of Pakistan by stating that “India should avoid unilateral actions in Jammu & Kashmir that could spark tensions in the region.” It has also described the decision to make Ladakh a Union Territory as unacceptable. Hence, China also needs to be looked upon as a destabilising factor in the current situation in cahoot with Pakistan.
Other nations have maintained a diplomatic silence, an indicator of overreaching acceptance. The United States has refuted claims that India has informed it before taking this decision and has urged all stakeholders to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control. This can, at best, be termed as a muted response which is in India’s favour.
With the concept of mainstream politics now extinguished, all so-called leaders who have milked the region for decades on end with their vested politics are going to come under a single umbrella of separatism. In their endeavours, they are going to get unmitigated support from Pakistan and through Pakistan from other Islamic nations. There is going to be no dearth of money, diplomatic and military power in the effort to contest this change. All avenues, legal, disruption, violence, psychological warfare will be put to use with impunity in what will definitely be a do or die attempt by these powers.
What is going to take centre stage now is the most important mind game, the battle of perception. Having acted a righteous and justified manner, the initiative lies with India. Hence, there is no need to be worried about the consequences.
Nevertheless, due caution needs to be exercised, the problem creators are few and on the wrong foot, but they cannot be ignored or taken for granted. The time for celebration is over as the real world and its requirement takes over. There is a need for the country to stay ready to face all eventualities, political, security, administrative, international and economic.
What India has in her favour is a very strong national will to see this very righteous action sail through. The most important factor will be the unity of thought and action. Hence, the need for all political parties to shed parochial positions works towards the success of the initiative. They should be well aware that the enemy will exploit even the slightest chink in the armour. If there is a conviction that what has been done is to the benefit of the nation and more importantly the people of Jammu & Kashmir, there will be no hurdle that cannot be crossed.
(The writer is an expert in Geo-politics, a columnist and an author)