The Masterstroke


A bold and historic decision has been taken by the Narendra Modi government to scrap Article 370&Article 35A, separate Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and make both of them Union territories (UTs). It would have undoubtedly considered at length its internal and external repercussions. If immediate violence on the ground may be prevented because of large-scale security deployments, the challenge would be to control violent protests once the local forces organise resistance on an Islamic platform, fuelled by propaganda in mosques and instigation from abroad. Pakistan will do its best to promote clashes between protestors and the security forces so that it can highlight the issue of human rights violations in J&K. Already in July 2018, India had to strongly rebuke the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva for its biased report on human rights violations in Kashmir. We have coped with such partisan attacks since 1990s in much more difficult external circumstances when western human rights organisations were targeting us viciously on the issue, and the US was unsparing in its criticism. One can expect the Pakistani parliament to pass an all-party resolution condemning and rejecting India's move. Massive demonstrations in Pakistan against India's step could take place, but if jihadi organisations are too visible and call for violence against India, Islamabad will have to worry about the impact of this fervour on its commitments to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to curb the supporting structures of terrorism on its soil, besides preserving the right atmosphere for receiving the financial bailouts it needs.
The LokSabha on Tuesday has vetted the government's move to immediately scrap Article 370, a historical provision that had extended a special status to Jammu and Kashmir for nearly seven decades, and carve two union territories out of the Himalayan state. The two changes that would bring the state under the direct control of the Centre, the government insists, would help curb terrorism backed by Pakistan and fast track development.The resolution to end special status for Jammu and Kashmir and the bill to split J&K into two centrally-administered territories were passed by more than 351 votes in favour of the motion, 72 against. Shah withdrew a third bill to extend 10 per cent quota in jobs and education for the poor to people in Kashmir, pointing that this reservation would now extend to the people in J&K automatically. Home Minister Amit Shah who led the government's move in Parliament, described Article 370 as a provision that had created a barrier between Kashmir and the rest of the country. India has consistently maintained that J&K is an integral part of India; that third parties, including the UN, have no role in J&K (which is why we do not recognise the writ of UNMOGIP on our side in J&K); and that the J&K issue has to be discussed bilaterally between the two countries as per the Shimla Agreement.

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