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The End of Article 370: How Pakistan Surrendered Kashmir

  • Kunwar Khuldune
  • Sep, 2019
  • 381
  • Kashmir Dispute

PAKISTAN’S LONG-TIME APPROACH TO THE DISPUTE LEAVES LITTLE ROOM FOR OBJECTING TO THE MODI GOVERNMENT’S POWER PLAY.

Aday after the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah scrapped Article 370 of the constitution, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan’s military establishment responded with its usual denial and dismissiveness.

Quoting the Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa in the aftermath of a Corps Commanders meeting in Rawalpindi, military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor downplayed the significance of New Delhi’s maneuver, saying that Pakistan “never recognized Articles 370 or 35-A” anyway.

The military’s chosen man, Prime Minister Imran Khan, meanwhile, was conspicuous in his deafening silence since Shah’s revelation in the Indian Parliament on Monday.

Khan had, however, echoed the military establishment’s silent belief in April when he maintained that his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi “can solve Kashmir.” In an interview with Kashmiri journalists in 2016, Khan had even said that the solution to Kashmir lies in dividing it into three parts.

Perhaps that’s why the state’s response to the central Indian government’s de facto annexation of Pakistan-claimed territory didn’t quite echo the widespread outrage on media - social and traditional - and streetsacross the country. This might just reaffirm what has been a reality for a while now: that Islamabad no longer has any cards left to play on Kashmir.

Hollow rhetoric notwithstanding, Pakistan has effectively surrendered what it long touted as its “jugular vein,” acquiescing to its slice of the territorial pie.

Multiple diplomatic sources have confirmed that Imran Khan and the Army leadership were told of New Delhi’s plan to revoke Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution during their visit to Washington last month. However, no one knew when the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would make the move.

Analysts across the border have argued that the move was accelerated following President Donald Trump’s comments alleging that Modi had asked him to “mediate” on Kashmir - a statement that the Pakistani leadership peddled as emblematic of its triumphant U.S. visit.

Even so, Pakistan’s fate in the Kashmir dispute wasn’t sealed in Washington or New Delhi. It was scribed, and regularly rewritten, on the drawing board at Rawalpindi, over the past seven decades.

Pakistan has made multiple failed bids to militarily seize Indian-administered Kashmir, in 1947-48, 1965 and 1999. The author of those failures, the military establishment, has rewarded itself for its continued failure to conquer Kashmir by maintaining its occupation of the Pakistan that remained in the aftermath of the 1971 secession of East Pakistan - another army-led catastrophe that even the current military leadership takes jibes at.

The loss of the eastern wing came in the aftermath of the Army “managing” the general elections of 1971. Indian usurpation of Jammu and Kashmir has come immediately after the military establishment, at the very least, influenced the no-confidence motion against the Senate chairman last week.

Kashmir and civilian supremacy are the two fronts where the Pakistan Army has waged all its wars, simultaneously, albeit with contrasting successes. These wars, however, have had mutual causality, with the military establishment blatantly misusing the Kashmiri struggle to nourish its jihadist assets, which served its misplaced domestic and regional ambitions, and maintained its hegemony over the national exchequer.

Jihad as a tool to gain strategic depth was born in the aftermath of Bangladesh’s creation, from the ashes of Pakistan Army’s longstanding pre-1971 obsession with militarily flanking India from its then two wings.

Fearing Indian influence in Kabul could result in Pakistan being at the receiving end of its own military strategy, a policy to pump mujahideen into Afghanistan, in addition to Kashmir, was devised in the 1970s - later bolstered by the United States to ward off Soviet invasion - eventually resulting in an Islamabad-backed Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the Islamization of the Kashmiri separatist movement in the 1990s.

By establishing a radical Islamist umbrella linking Kashmir and Afghanistan, the military establishment kept the two regions geostrategically interconnected, with Rawalpindi exercising decisive influence over this multipronged jihadist corridor.

Post 9/11, the United States coerced General Pervez Musharraf’s military regime to outwardly shun jihad as an ally in the War on Terror. This accelerated the now notorious “Good Taliban, Bad Taliban” approach, where officially banned groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, an...

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