Modi Government’s Kashmir Policy and Chances of a Dialogue with Pakistan

e first term of Modi’s premiership, Pakistan and the world have already witnessed India’s much intensified military campaign in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to crush the peaceful indigenous freedom struggle in the state, causing endless human rights violations.But the freedom struggle continues to achieve the Kashmiris’ right to self determination through a plebiscite as was promised by India’s first Prime Minister (PM), Mr. Jawahar Lal Nehru and also promised by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions of 1948/49.

Apart from its efforts to crush the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle with the brutal use of force, in Modi’s second term as India’s premier, BJP intends to permanently integrate Jammu and Kashmir into India by implementing its declared election manifesto of abrogatingArticles 35 A and 370 of the Indian constitution. According to the Business Recorder dated 6 April 2019, BJP President Amit Shah said,”BJP remains committal to remove the Article 370 of India’sConstitution”.

According to the Hindu dated 26 August 2017, Article 35A is a provision incorporated in the Indian Constitution giving the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative an authority to decide who all are ‘permanent residents’ of the State and confer on them special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property in the State, scholarships and other public aid and welfare.The article stipulates that persons not belonging to the state cannot purchase property in the state and become its permanent residents with a right to vote.

The Modi led BJP government, with a clear majority in the Lok Sabah wants to revoke article 35 A to allow nonresidents of the state to purchase property in the state and become its permanent residents with a right to vote. By this way the BJP government wants to settle Hindu population in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to end Muslims majority to defeat the plebiscite if ever it is held by the UNSC under its resolutions or if India decides to hold the plebiscite after attaining Hindu majority in the state.

There are least chances that Modi government will hold bilateral talks with Pakistan, as Pakistan says that Jammu and Kashmir dispute is the core issue without resolution of which peace cannot endure in South Asia

Article 370 of the Indian constitution is a temporary article that gives autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir till its final status was decided after ascertaining the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.The article exempted the State from the complete applicability of the Constitution of India, the State was allowed to have its own Constitution, and theCentral legislative powers over the State were limited, at the time of framing, to the three subjects of defence, foreign affairs and communications. Other constitutional powers of the Central Government could be extended to the State only with the concurrence of the Constituent Assembly.The Article 370 could be abrogated or amended only upon the recommendation of the State’s Constituent Assembly.

Although since late 1950s India has practically tarnished the spirit of the Article 370 through Presidential ordnances, thus extending many powers of the Central Government to the IOK to firm up its grip over the state and crush the long continuing freedom struggle there.However, Aricle 370 remains part of the Indian constitution, which the BJP wants to abrogate to permanently integrate the state with India like its other states.

Since Pakistan is a party to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute at the UNSC forum and it wants that people of Jammu and Kashmir should decide about the status of the state through a plebiscite to be held under the UNSC resolutions and under its supervision, it cannot allow India to either change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir to defeat the plebiscite by annulung Article 35 A of the Constitution or permanently integrate the state with it by violating the UNSC resolutions on the state by abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution. If India tries to do so, Pakistan will have to refer the matter to the UNSC, as India cannot change the demography and status of Jammu and Kashmir unilaterally. Same is the case with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who want the settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in the light of UNSC resolutions and will vehemently resist the annulling of Articles 35 A and 370 of the Constitution by India..

In view of the above mentioned designs of the Modi led BJP, it can be said that there are least chances that Modi government will hold bilateral talks with Pakistan, as Pakistan says that Jammu and Kashmir dispute is the core issue without resolution of which peace cannot endure in South Asia. In this scenario, Modi government is likely to follow its old policy of blaming Pakistan for supporting terrorism and refusing to hold the talks with Pakistan. However, if at all Modi decides to hold a dialogue with Pakistan in view of his anti Pakistan stance not getting due attention in the region and Pakistan’s peace initiatives becoming more popular among the regional players, then,Modi’s team will talk only about subsidiary issues rather than having a substantive dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir.

The writer is a former Research Fellow of Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), Islamabad and Senior Research Fellow of Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad