Humanosity says…Ever since partition India and Pakistan’s competing claims to the territory have led to several wars and continue to poison relations between the two sates. Duelling narratives of Kashmir have emerged over time and this article from the Atlantic examines both in-depth…
The move by the Indian Government to strip away the constitutional autonomy that was once given to Kashmir has pushed the decades-long dispute over the region into the international spotlight.
Announced without warning in the Indian Parliament, The single state of Jammu and Kashmir has been split into 2 separate federally administered units, with the leaders picked by Delhi.
In the United States, India’s actions have attracted almost universally negative coverage: A spate of news stories and op-eds have highlighted the quashing of Kashmiri human rights, the risk of war between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, the threat to Indian federalism and democracy, and the rise of a muscular brand of Hindu nationalism hostile to Islam. (Before its dissolution, Jammu and Kashmir was India’s only Muslim-majority state.)
The response in India couldn’t have been more different. Social media posts have highlighted the widespread popular support for the move. The move received parliamentary support from a number of opposition parties. Even though the main opposition party Congress didn’t back the move, many of it’s prominent leaders broke ranks to support the policy.
According to Modi, the change will bring an end to decades of terrorism, nepotism, corruption and will usher in an era of development for the troubled region. The popularity of the BJP and it’s electoral success means that apart from some critical op-eds majority public opinion seems to be with him.
The View From Outside of India
Outside India, it’s a different story. For the most part, with the exception of China, major powers have been loath to criticize India. The U.S. has reverted to its traditional position of treating Kashmir as a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan. At the G7 summit in Biarritz, President Donald Trump said, “The prime minister really feels he has it under control.”
Many in the West see India as a potential bulwark against China’s domination of Asia. Pakistan’s support of terrorist groups in the region has had the effect of reducing international support for its stance on Kashmir. Even Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been lukewarm in the support they have offered Pakistan.
However, there may well be problems ahead. The actions India takes in the disputed region will eventually determine the international response. The more India uses its military, the more opponents it detains and the longer the crackdown, the harder it will be for India to maintain support.
Bluntly put, India’s branding as the world’s largest democracy does not square with preemptively arresting up to 2,000 Kashmiris, including three former chief ministers of the state; suspending mobile-telephone networks and the internet for weeks, and locking up doctors for bringing attention to medicine shortages in the valley. Five members of the U.S. Congress, including Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ilhan Omar, have publicly called on India to lift its communications blockade. More will likely follow.
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