Narendra Modi, in G7 summit at Biarritz, France made it absolutely clear during his bilateral meeting with the American President Donald Trump that his misguided attempts at mediation in the aftermath of the the Abrogation of Article 370, were not welcome. The language used by the Prime Minister was Hindi and the impact of his statement when translated was revealing, India has walked a long way from 1947, 1965, 1971 and the Kargil misadventure by Pakistan army. The hurried acceptance by the American President of the new equation was evident from Trump’s opening statement which precluded any intervention or mediation by any of the World powers in Kashmir. Interestingly, the Americans realised the fact that it is not the India of yore, when world powers could bully it to accept the terms laid down by emasculated UNSC which was nothing but an extension of the American Superpower status. But, Donald Trump has always bitten more than he can chew.
His bullying of China, his withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement, his threatening India on trade issues, withdrawal from Climate Change Agreement, all has been hyped by his supporters in the US. However, he overplayed his hand in his ambitious attempt at meddling in Kashmir. Many strategists believe that Narendra Modi preempted the fallout of the US pullout from Afghanistan and its turning a blind eye to the potential threat which India faces from the rejuvenated Taliban and the Pakistani Deep State, the ISI and the Jihadi groups operated by ISI. Pakistan, in recent months has again played its Daggers and Bouquets game to the hilt. American President is a consummate businessman and does his business well, he knows that Pakistan is the key to his negotiations with the Taliban, with re elections looming large he is keen to wrap up some kind of a pullout from Afghanistan before the elections.
Donald Trump believes in the disruptive power to further negotiations, his methodology has been similar ranging from North Korea, Iran, China, Pakistan, he hasn’t shied away from offending his neighbours, both Canada and Mexico, neither has he any compunctions in blasting his NATO allies. His attempt at invoking his mediation effort in presence of Imran Khan was to push India into a corner while trying to salvage his Taliban deal where Pakistani Deep State is the biggest stakeholder. Trump has generally done away with diplomatic niceties often relying on his sole superpower status and his disruptive powers to force negotiations. He did alright with the Kim but the Iranians and the Chinese aren’t enamoured by his tactics.
It is here that Narendra Modi has set global discourse with his aggressive positioning of India as being different from the past. The Prime Minister has been relentless in his pursuit for equality among the World Powers. Strategists are watching the new approach very closely, Modi had stared down the Chinese in the Doklam Standoff, not that it has any strategic gains but it impressed many in the Western Capitals. His ordering first of Surgical Strikes in response to Uri Attack by Pakistan supported Jihadis, second, the Balakot Airstrikes reinforced the image Modi had been trying to project. India does not believe in infructous dialogue with Pakistan nor is he accommodative of external intervention in matters which are internal and bilateral. India, one of the leading though developing economies has the heft to pull its weight when it matters.
The latest flashpoint has been the abrogation of Article 370. Pakistan has upped the ante, threatening nuclear war, pleading at the same time in the UN, espousing support for its cause with the OIC or the Organisation of Islamic Countries, trying its time tested ally in China besides seeking support of the Sunni figureheads in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Interestingly, none of the all weather friends, fellow travellers in Sunni theocracies have supported the shrill attempts to internationalise Kashmir by Pakistan. Except for Turkey and a couple of Balkan Muslim nations none have even given much credence to the usual rants. Pakistan is in an overdrive to make Kashmir the focal point of all bilateral disputes between India and Pakistan. It has wagered all against none, without realising that the abrogation was an internal matter. Parliament of India had passed this legislation when it felt that it was a requirement and it is the Parliament of India which has repealed the same with absolute majority in both the houses of the Parliament. For reminder, it was a Temporary provision of the Constitution.
The manner in which this piece of archaic legislation was repealed was a masterpiece in political manoeuvring by the government. Except for the Congress, DMK and some fringe no party could oppose the Reorganisation Bill on J&K.
India has very astutely worked out the international community and the powers that be on this very important issue, especially in light of the fact that Pakistan has more than often made Kashmir an issue of life and death, linking its survival to the question of Kashmir being part of Pakistan and fulfil its deepest wound of the Partition when the Muslim majority State of Jammu and Kashmir decided to accede to India.
The fact that Indian Parliament has so speedily consigned Article 370 to the Dustbins of History has taken the World with surprise. World was resigned to the fact that Kashmir cannot be solved by any Indian government after initially messing it up by taking it to the UN , then accepting a UN resolution on a Plebiscite. Not realising that Article 370 was an internal piece of legislation and it could be repealed anytime, it was only a matter of time. Pakistan, is not really worrying about Kashmir, or IoK as it calls but the fear of India staking aggressive military claims to the Northern Areas is giving Pakistan sleepless nights. The Army which decides the Fate of Pakistan is caught between the Devil and the Deep Sea, it is good at Sabre Rattling and that’s what it is doing right now. Raising the spectre of a War over Kashmir between two nuclear armed nations, a constant blackmailing ploy employed by Pakistan, it was done in the heat of Kargil, but the leadership in India called off this bluff and forced a complete withdrawal of Pakistan forces behind the LoC.
Already certain influential thinkers, former naval chief and the now the Defence Minister has hinted changes in No First Strike Doctrine. The nuclear bluff being called off with defined policy is again a reflection on the way India wants to project and protect itself from any misadventure by any hostile force. India has the credibility of being a responsible Nuclear Power and the World believes that it will behave as one. That is not the case of Pakistan, its links to North Korea, China, Iran and its links to the most dreaded Islamic Terror Organisations make it vulnerable to blackmail or even forcible takeover of Nuclear weapons by Rogue organisations within Pakistan. This too has tilted the scales of balance in favour of India.
However, there is a long way to go before we can safely assume that Kashmir is restored to normalcy. Indian economic heft, military strength and diplomatic acumen notwithstanding, it is inclusiveness which shall restore normalcy and make Pakistan irrelevant. Until then, the Nation needs the best commitment of its People.