On September 29, protests broke out in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) against regular Pakistan armed forces engineered incursions and violation of human rights in Indian Kashmir.
They chanted slogans seeking separation from Pakistan and reportedly praised the Indian government as being much more humane. Pakistan was fully exposed. Islamabad resorted to a brutal crackdown and ordered detention of nearly 200 protesters in major towns of Muzaffarabad, Gilgit and Kotli. Few were even charged with sedition.Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, using the right to reply option at the UN General Assembly, gave a befitting response to an embarrassed Sharif. In her speech the next day, she said, “Don’t give us four points. Just stop terrorism and then we can sit on the table for talks.” For a change, the much firmer Modi government hit back aggressively, calling Pakistan a “prime sponsor of terror” and asking Islamabad to vacate the part of Kashmir it had occupied.
Thus, it put in place the new approach and standard for resolving the Kashmir issue. Spokesman of the External Affairs ministry Vikas Swarup said, "Pakistan is suffering from the self-made policies as a prime sponsor of terrorism. Blaming neighbours is an old unsustainable ploy." To de-militarise Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorise Pakistan is, he added.India-Pakistan relations have been strained ever since the partition of the two, now nuclear neighbours. Pakistan’s invasion of Jammu & Kashmir and the initial dilly-dallying by New Delhi in 1947 had resulted in Pakistan occupying nearly one-third of the state.
Finally, the Indian armed forces, at great loss to life, managed to push them back from near Srinagar and recovered significant parts of the territory. However, 13,297 sq km is still lies in PoK and 72,496 sq km in Northern Areas. Pakistan has also ceded 5,180 sq km of Jammu & Kashmir to China. Unlike in India, PoK has no elected member in the Pakistan National Assembly. India’s reference of the dispute to the UN in 1949 was a step in the wrong direction.
The two have fought three major wars thereafter. Pakistan then started using the low-cost option of exporting terror through infiltration, initially in Punjab and later in J&K. However, terror promoted as a state instrument, later started hurting them too, and resulted in greater loss of life for them. Pakistani Army Generals ruled the state for decades and still call the shots. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) clandestinely funded the handful of separatists in the Kashmir valley. For some reason, India continued to behave like a soft-state and chose to engage the separatists through dialogue and kept urging Pakistan to walk the talk. Sensing this as a weakness, Pakistan became more aggressive from 1989.
The change of government in New Delhi in 2014 had sent tremors in Islamabad. PM Modi was known to be a man who means business. BJP for the first time, managed to form government in J&K. When Hurriyat was stopped from meeting the Pakistani delegation ahead of the NSA-level talks, the bugle had been sounded. The Indian government also decided to call Pakistan’s bluff by laying its own conditions for talks. The government was clear that the Pakistan propagated lie of domestic discontent in J&K had to be exposed. PM Modi also quickly made friends with all the major world leaders and exposed Pakistan. Indian history has many lessons.
India prospered during Chandra Gupta Maurya and Ashok the Great when we were militarily strong and had clear resolve. India was enslaved when it had weak rulers. In the very beginning, the Modi government’s ministers made it clear that a befitting response will be given to unprovoked firing on the Line-of-Control (LoC). For the first time Pakistan is on the defensive, and is blaming Indian’s R&AW for fomenting separatist movements in Balochistan and PoK. Pakistan’s PM reportedly handed over a dossier containing evidence to support his claim to the UN President. India was also accused of stalling bilateral dialogue using terror as the bogey.
Pakistan not only shelters internationally acknowledged terrorists and organisations, but funds and supports their operations. India wants Pakistan to bring to justice the 2008 Mumbai attack perpetrators roaming free in Pakistan. Military-controlled Pakistan’s proposal to demilitarise Kashmir is being labelled as mere ‘Humour in Uniform’. India garnered support on social media, with many asking Pakistan to vacate PoK. India’s economic muscle, military power and world standing are finally sending strong messages and deriving support. India claims back the much larger Northern Areas. India has also started exposing the Pakistan nuclear threat bogie.
The only way to deal with the situation is from a position of strength. Constitutionally integrating Kashmir fully with India is the next logical step. All separatist activities in Kashmir have to be aggressively dealt with. Hard posturing is the flavour of the season.