EU MPs’ delegation has termed the abrogation as an internal matter, upholding New Delhi’s contention that global community shouldn’t get into an advisory mode.
The abrogation of Article 370 by an Act of Indian Parliament has caught the attention of the rest of the world. While misperceptions existed with regard to the abrogation, India, somehow, was able to dispel the doubts of the members of the international community especially on the rationale behind the abrogation and how the state of Jammu & Kashmir has been split into two Union Territories—Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. Unfortunately, the rest of the world never knew that Article 370 was a temporary provision and had very limited objectives. Now, after the abrogation, the UT of J&K will see an upward trajectory in the development process in every sphere.
Interestingly, a 23-member EU Parliamentarians’ delegation, which ended its visit to J&K, seems to have served its purpose in mobilising international public opinion and understand the rationale behind India’s decision. The delegation has termed the abrogation of Article 370 as an internal matter of India and thus has upheld New Delhi’s contention that the global community should not get into an advisory mode regarding J&K.
“If we talk about Article 370, it is India’s internal matter. What concerns us is terrorism, which is a global menace and we should stand with India in fighting it,” one of the members of the delegation, Henri Malosse of France is reported to have told journalists at the Srinagar airport while wrapping up their visit to J&K.
The delegation’s view that Pakistan is responsible of fomenting trouble in J&K and sponsoring terror activities has reinforced India’s views all these years. Right from Prime Ministers down to the last dignitary representing New Delhi in any foreign soil have strongly condemned Islamabad for not only using its territory or areas under its occupation to launch terror activities but have also highlighted the futility of talking to Pakistan on these issues. The purpose for which Pakistan has been working with a single minded aim to destabilise India seems to be losing the ground.
The Narendra Modi government’s stand that talks with Pakistan cannot happen unless Islamabad is able to rein in the terror outfits is more or less a continuation of the stand taken by earlier governments. Pakistan started using terror as a tool to “inflict a thousand cuts on India”. The outreach of these terror outfits, euphemistically referred to as non-state actors, has now gone far beyond the confines of the region. Some of the lone wolf terrorists in Europe, and those who organised terror attacks elsewhere in the western world as well as in Asia have been linked to Pakistan. The dreaded ISIS and other radical Islamic mercenary fundamentalist groups have been using Pakistan as a fertile recruiting ground. Considering Pakistan’s weak economy and rampant unemployment the radicalised youth find it lucrative to join one or another terror outfit to make both ends meet. The deep state of Pakistan has got the country into a morass. The political establishment all along has been reduced to being a mere pawn in the hands of trigger happy generals who literally call the shots.
The only aspect where Pakistan’s three power centres—the army, the clergy and the political establishment—concur is keeping the “Kashmir is ours” narrative alive. In the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370, J&K is no longer an issue for debate in the international forums for Pakistan. Even before the EU MPs delegation chided Pakistan, many world capitals have echoed India’s viewpoint and refused to entertain Islamabad’s version on J&K.
It is extremely sad and unfortunate that a section of the Opposition, sans any leadership or following, is trying to occupy greater space in the media, especially in foreign media to mirror the cockeyed views on J&K being peddled by Imran Khan and his remote operators in the GHQ in Islamabad. The “stories” of mass detention, human rights violations, indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians by Indian armed forces in J&K being spread shamelessly by heavily paid Pakistani PR agencies are finding their way into social media, courtesy, the so-called progressive liberal-left leaning minority fringes in the Indian political arena. Their sympathy for left-wing political parties and persons in the EU and the West is understandable given their links with the International Comintern, now as dead as a dodo.
While no one takes them seriously, the damage they try to do had to be countered in every possible way and hence this visit by the EU MPs’ delegation. Yet it would not be too much to expect the small but significant Opposition to stand with the government in matters that concern national security and strategy. The least that was expected of them was to sit with the ruling party and vent their reservations, but put up a united show in the international arena and the visiting (right wing) dignitaries, who, by the way, are in ascendency in many of the European countries.
Meanwhile, even as the Modi government reaps the benefits of a diplomatic victory, there is no gainsaying that the situation in J&K has to be handled very carefully. The former state, now changed to two union territories, might take a long time to limp back to normalcy. Forces inimical to our security and safety are waiting in the wings to identify the chinks in our armour and mount the next round of assault targeting civilians and vitiating the atmosphere.
The emerging flashpoints in the Northeast, warning signals from the economy and the agrarian distress are issues serious enough to keep the Narendra Modi government engaged in the near future. Any delay in the return of normalcy in J&K will add to the mounting troubles for the government which gives an impression of working overtime, ironically, using probably only very limited of the vast meritorious and experienced hands available outside the government.
It would be in national interest for both the government and the Opposition to arrive at a convergence of views on contentious issues like J&K, Ayodhya etc., and start seriously working on firming up the economy, increasing investments in hitherto neglected areas and scale down political rhetoric for some time, say till the next phase of elections.
Moreover, both the EU and India have similar concerns on the threats emanating from terrorism. The potential for a deeper engagement exists and it is anticipated that India-EU counter terrorism will get augmented and a consistent sharing of intelligence information between EUROPOL and Indian agencies will create a win-win situation for all in ushering in a better world. The visit by EU parliamentarians to J&K is vital to a strong, positive and constructive India-EU engagement in strategic partnership.
Prof Arvind Kumar teaches Geopolitics and International Relations at Manipal Academy of Higher Education. Mr. Seshadri Chari is a well known Political Commentator and Strategic Analyst.