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July 21, 2015

Modi’s new Kashmir


July 21, 2015

1947 was the year when the world witnessed the largest migration they had ever seen. The migration brought with itself a galore of chaos, riots and violence. All this took place in the heart of Asia, the land of spices and rivers, cotton and mangoes, the Indian sub-continent. Nevertheless, this was a step much needed for the Muslims of the region. Although a lot of Muslims found salvation in their new homeland, Pakistan; for some this dream was merely nothing more than a dream. Kashmir was one such region. A Muslim majority state under a Hindu king was given to India by the British as they pulled out. This scenario caused a conflict in the area often known as heaven on earth. Both the countries, India and Pakistan have had a strong stance on the Kashmir issue ever since 1947.
The first Indo-Pak war over Kashmir took place in 1947-48, fought bravely by the tribesmen of now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A portion of Kashmir region was captured by Pakistan, almost one-third, the rest remained disputed. In 1963 there was again a meeting between Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers on Kashmir issue under the auspice of the British and Americans, this meeting however reached no conclusion. In 1964 Pakistan took the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council. After a war in 1965, both the countries held a ceasefire as per the UN mandate. In 1966, in Tashkent, a treaty was signed between the leaders of the two countries, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahdaur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan.
Things become different in 1974 as the Kashmiri state government testifies as being a constituent unit of the Indian Union. Pakistan however rejects this stance. Tables turn in 1989 as the people begin to show resistance to the Indian rule in held Kashmir valley. Muslim political parties accuse the government of rigging in the elections. Kargil war takes place in 1999. In 2001, chief minister of Indian administered Kashmir is attacked and Indian governments calls on a full

fledged attack on the army training camps of Pakistan. Indian PM Vajpayee and Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf call a meeting in Agra but reach no conclusion.
Indian leaders always make it a point to visit Kashmir right after they are appointed. Be it Manmohan Singh in 2004, or Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Modi has always been interested in the regions bordering Pakistan, especially Jammu & Kashmir along the Line of Control. Even during his election campaigns and political rallies he visited the area. Eventually he formed a coalition government with the regional People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in late February.
Many say that Narendra Modi’s cooperation with Kashmir’s is more than just political rallies. He wants to extend it developments, employments, power projects etc. Pakistan and the separatist parties can be a threat; however, Modi still seems to be going along with the plan. Even in 2014 flood, Modi met Chief Minister Abdullah and promised supplies such as medicines, boats, solar lamps and Rs1100 crore be available to the government of Kashmir. He announced 5.7 billion rupees in assistance for housing and 1.8 billion rupees to fix six major hospitals in the state that were in poor conditions. He also reassured Pakistan-side Kashmir that India was ready to provide help to the food affected areas.
Modi says terrorism in the region has decreased but corruption has not. He pledged to bring justice to the people of Kashmir and fight poverty and unemployment. Kashmir’s accused Indian army of targeting innocent civilians, to which Modi replied that the soldiers who shot two innocent teenage boys have been dealt with, and the situation was taken seriously. However, Modi defended the presence of the deployed troops in Kashmir, and said that they were there to ensure the safety of democracy in the region.
BJP is gaining support from the Hindu majority regions of Kashmir. While addressing a rally in Samba (Jammu) Modi said that the large voter turnout is a sign of people favouring development of the region. Although Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif has mentioned and demanded the need for a dialogue to solve the Kashmir issue time and again, Modi’s government seems to ignore this issue and avoid dialogue. Syed Akbaruddin, Indian Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs said regarding Pakistan’s rights on Kashmir that “it is not theirs and never will be”.
India seems to have adopted Kashmir as its own despite it being a disputed territory. Pakistani foreign office spokes person Tasneem Aslam said that, “Jammu and Kashmir is an issue of right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people, enshrined in numerous UN resolutions. India continues to usurp this right with impunity, in violation of the UN Security Council Resolutions and the UN Charter.” However, all these statements by Pakistani officials regarding the International law, dialogue, and taking the case to United Nations have been disregarded by Narendra Modi and his government.
Indian hostility towards UN officials went to such an extent that in 2014 India asked United Nations Military Observer Group on Kashmir to vacate a government provided bungalow in New Delhi. The UN mission has its offices present in Delhi, Srinagar and Islamabad to supervise the ceasefire in the disputed region. However India has failed to cooperate with the UN mission and considers the entire disputed region as its own property. Ever since January 1972 Indian army has restricted the movement of UN officials in the Indian held Kashmir and continues to do so up till now. Modi’s government continues its projects in held Kashmir to win the hearts of Kashmiris. Flood relief, power projects and employment issues are being tackled by Modi’s government.
Pakistan Army under the leadership of General Raheel Sharif has taken a front role in Pakistani foreign relations, ever since the horrifying Peshawar attack. Pakistan Army has taken the centre stage and has been vigilant towards its borders. So whatever measures Modi wants to take to pacify his relation with Kashmir, they have to be away from the border.
India’s geopolitical mistrust and panic started when China showed the Indian map to Modi during his visit, and it did not include Jammu & Kashmir and Arunachal Pardesh. This event reopened old Indian wounds and raised anger and bitterness among Indians. Modi took serious note of it and suggested that “China should take a strategic and long term view of our relations”. Modi was also unhappy to see China’s friendship with Pakistan and stated that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is ‘unacceptable’. Modi seemed prudent in his meeting with the Chinese, and smartly pressed its apprehension towards China’s multi-billion dollar business plans in Pakistan’s Kashmir.
The future of Kashmir remains uncertain. As both countries play their politics and war, Kashmiri citizens are the ones who suffer. Ever since 1949 a demand for a referendum has been put forward, which still remains undone. It’s about time the Muslim majority province takes it pick whether it wants to be a part of Pakistan or India. This heaven on earth has been the core reason for conflict in the subcontinent for 67 years; will the people of this region ever see peace and certainty? Will the Kashmiris ever live in harmony? Will India and Pakistan ever come to a truce? These are the questions that prevail whilst the leaders of the two most dominant nations of south East Asia decide what their stance will be.

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