By Imran Malik
Israel and India are the two fulcrums or centers of power in the Greater Middle East Region (GMER), the South-Central Asian Region (SCAR) and the Indo-Pacific Region (IPR) around which the US’ current and future geostrategic and geopolitical interests appear to evolve. Both have the blistering issues of Palestine and Kashmir to contend with, respectively. Whether it is Palestine or increasingly Kashmir now, the ominous and omnipresent shadow of the US lurking in the background is undeniable!
Israel’s unchallenged hegemony over the GMER is well established. India’s compulsive fixation upon nuclear Pakistan denies it a position of unassailable supremacy even in the lowly Indo-Pak subcontinent, much less at the South Asian, SCAR or even the larger IPR levels. A solution to the intractable Kashmir issue, potentially the world’s likeliest nuclear flashpoint, is key to India’s breaking free of nuclear Pakistan’s invisible shackles on its emergence as a regional power of consequence – to ostensibly challenge China one day.
Jimmy Johnson, an organizer with the Palestine Cultural Office in Dearborn, in his article, “The Electronic Intifada”, highlights the similarities between the fates of Palestine and Kashmir and the manner in which both Israel and India are suppressing them and equating their freedom struggles with terrorism. The analogy between the two worsens as all the methodologies, practices and tools of suppression/oppression/pacification perfected by Israel in Palestine are getting increasingly replicated in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) and vice versa. They work in tandem to suppress these peoples.
India blatantly disregards UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir. It relentlessly seeks succor from external sources to retain its stranglehold over it. Israel provides it with the necessary expertise courtesy its occupation of Palestine. The US has the wherewithal to help it in the military, diplomatic and political domains in perpetuating the status quo in Kashmir – albeit at a price. This convergence of geopolitical and geostrategic interests/compulsions causes them to gravitate towards one another, much to the detriment of the Kashmiris’ cause for the UN mandated Right to Self Determination.
Both Israel and India are conniving at the geostrategic and geopolitical levels to bludgeon the Palestinians and the Kashmiris into submission. The Indians are literally aping the Israelis in IHK. As the Israelis have brought in Jewish people from around the world to settle them in the occupied lands, similarly PM Modi now wants to change the demography of IHK. In its manifesto for Elections 2019 the BJP has promised to rescind Articles 370 and 35A from the Indian Constitution. These two steps would rescind the special status of J&K/IHK as well as allow non-permanent residents of J&K/IHK to buy land in the occupied territories. That will be the preliminary step to changing the demographic character of the J&K/IHK region. By permanently (re)settling Hindus (even retired armed forces personnel and their families) in J&K/IHK the Modi Government hopes to turn the Muslim majority into a minority thus neutralizing the “threat” that the Union of India feels from a possible UNSC sanctioned plebiscite for the Right to Self-Determination, someday. Another plan in the offing is to force the Muslims of J&K/IHK into refugee camps along the LOC and then generate a refugee crisis by pushing them across the LOC into Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), under Pakistan control – a la Palestine. Ostensibly, that will force Pakistan to accept them which in turn will help the Indians reverse the demographic character/majority of Muslims in IHK.
Although a long shot, any recognition of IHK as a part of India by the US, a la Golan Heights, would have unmanageable, unlimited strategic consequences!
The Indians have brutalized Kashmir and Kashmiris. The rampant use of the pellet gun and semi/automatic weapons kills, blinds, scars and maims them on an hourly/daily basis. The savage cordon and search operations violate the sanctity of Kashmiri households not sparing their womenfolk, children, the old or the infirm. Brutal beatings, shootings, killings, injuries, tortures, rapes, murders, incarcerations, demolitions of houses, strikes, ransacking businesses etc define their daily lives. Special oppressive laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the earlier Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (TADA) or the Prevention of Terrorist Activities (POTA) literally licensed the Indian Armed Forces to bludgeon them into abject submission to the Indian state. The failure of this policy is evident through the unrelenting indigenous Kashmiri uprising.
Through force multiplication the Israelis have helped improve the capacities of the Indian military in suppressing the Kashmiris and the multiple popular revolts in over a dozen other states in the Indian Union. Israel has trained thousands of Indian military personnel in counter insurgency techniques since 2003. MOSSAD and SHIN BET (General Security Service) have trained their Indian counterparts in gathering intelligence and conducting intelligence-based operations in insurgency affected areas, in particular J&K/IHK. India is now the largest buyer of Israeli military technology and equipment.
Ominously for Pakistan, Israel and its intelligence tentacles are now literally present and proactive in its backyard – J&K/IHK.
In the recent Indo-Pak flareup post-Pulwama the US actually gave its silent approval to India to “exercise its right for self-defense” and carry out “ostensible punitive strikes” inside Pakistan. In other words, unambiguously stamp its hegemony over it and the region. The Indians struck using Israel supplied SPICE-2000 bombs at Balakot and failed miserably. The flareup ended with the Indians humiliated and making frivolous, fictitious and false claims of (un)achieved military targets, aims and objectives. Not only were their military (in)competence exposed but also their penchant for claiming successes/victories that never were. It was contemptible conduct thoroughly unbecoming professional armed forces. The US then intervened swiftly to save India from further losses, embarrassments and humiliations.
Israeli contribution to the pains and wails of the Kashmiris is thus very significant. Changing the demography of the valley through illegal settlements may have unintended consequences for India – quite unlike Palestine. A relentless reign of state sponsored terror, a change in their status and a denial of all liberties and space to the Kashmiris will impact the strategic dimensions of the disputed territories very dramatically.
Forced into a corner, they might seek and find their natural strategic depth in AJ&K!