Prime Minister Imran Khan was very optimistic rather he prayed that Narendra Modi gets elected in India in 2019 general elections; as he genuinely believed that Pakistan had better chances of resolving long outstanding issues including the core issues of Kashmir with India led by a strong nationalist leader from right-wing BJP. “Perhaps if the BJP— a right-wing party — wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached,” he had hoped. His prayers did come true as Narendra Modi got elected but alas his wishes for resolution of disputes and a peaceful co-existence with India could not.
The Indian government immediately blamed Pakistan when a vehicle-borne suicide bomber attacked Indian security forces in Pulwama. Though it was later revealed that it was a task of a lone wolf, a resident of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), the government of India retaliated by first revoking Pakistan’s most favoured nation status then increased customs duty on Pakistani goods by 200%, and also urged the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) to put Pakistan in their blacklist. Not satisfied with all these steps, India raised the ante and twelve Indian Air Force (IAF) jets crossed the LOC and dropped bombs onto Balakot. Luckily there was no damage, other than a few trees, yet it was a provocation Pakistan public could not take lying down. And when the IAF jets tried to crossover LOC again the next day, were intercepted and in a dog fight, two were shot down by Pakistan Air Force. One of the jets fell towards Pakistan’s side of LOC and its pilot was captured alive. Pakistan, however, showed magnanimity and the captured Indian pilot was returned to India. But the Indian government of Narendra Modi was not ready to let peace prevail.
The Kashmir bomb was dropped by Modi’s government on 5 Aug 2019 when special provisions granted to the Kashmir region in the Indian constitution— Article 370 and Article 35(A) — were revoked unilaterally. This was in complete defiance to the wishes of Kashmiri people and in violation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. The Kashmir was bifurcated into two union states and Ladakh placed directly under Delhi rule. People from anywhere in India were also allowed to buy the property and permanently settle in IOK; thus fueling fear in the mind of Kashmiris that India is trying to alter the state’s demography from majority Muslim to majority Hindu. A day after the abrogation of Article 370, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah declared that the AJ&K under Pakistan control and Aksai Chin under Chinese control are also an integral part of India and that they would sacrifice their lives for getting those areas back into the fold. This tantamount to a declaration of war on the two neighboring countries, that is nuclear-armed as well, was not taken well by the world community. Moreover, riots erupted in the IOK region against the decision and curfew had to be imposed by Indian occupying forces to brings things under control; curfew has lasted ever since. International bodies have condemned this violation of basic human rights but the Indian government has not paid any heed to those complaints.
Indian provocations against Pakistan continued and the India Meteorological Department (IMD) started referring to the meteorological sub-division of Jammu and Kashmir as Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Muzaffarabad; thus giving a subtle message to Pakistani government of its intentions. Pakistan rejected this sinister move and again reminded the world community about the Indian expansionist ambitions in the area.
And then came the latest incident where Indian forces tried to capture the area of Gulwan Valley located very close to strategic Karakorum Pass from where China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – passes. However, the intruding Indian Army was given a bloody nose by the Chinese Army. After facing a humiliating defeat, the Indian government in an effort to divert its public opinion has further intensified its brutalities against the people of IOK and escalated cross border firing in LOC.
Yet another try to restore her lost pride, India has accused Pakistani diplomats in Delhi of spying and demanded reduction of the diplomatic staff by 50%. This signals further downward spiral in diplomatic ties as the ambassador level officers were already called back towards the end of last year when India scraped Article 370.
War clouds are looming in Asia where three nuclear-armed neighbors are looking at each other in the eyes because of the actions directly instigated by Narendra Modi’s short-sightedness. Let’s not forget what he said earlier this year about India forcing Pakistan “bite the dust” in less than 10 days. Similar noises are also being heard from top Indian military leadership that is floating the doctrine of war on two fronts. The world community must take cognizance about the irresponsible policies/ actions of the BJP government that are increasingly imperiling regional peace and stability. It is high time that the Kashmir issue is resolved as per the wishes of Kashmiri people under the auspices of UNSC resolution to ensure long-lasting peace in south Asia. We owe this much to our younger generation who would otherwise blame us for taking no action when war clouds were looming over Asia threatening the world peace.
U.K. Dar is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK