A Deed Most Foul

Spearhead Analysis—August 2019

“I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?” — “The deed is done, the doers undone.”
Shakespeare—in Macbeth

According to Mr Chidambaram a former Indian Federal Minister the event in Kashmir on Monday August 5 was the blackest day in Indian constitutional history and that its consequences will be dire in the future. Others have also given similar views but the majority of Indians especially the Hindutva brigade and the drooling businessmen have welcomed the move by Prime Minister Modi to undo Article 370 thereby revoking the special status granted to IOK (Indian Occupied Kashmir) under the Indian constitution and separating Ladakh from the state of Jammu and Kashmir by making it a union territory. Chowkidar (watchman) Modi (as he calls himself) had promised to do this in his election speech in April this year but it was dismissed as electoral rhetoric. It was not. There will be endless analyses of this revolutionary step but the deed is done. The doers may or may not be undone.

From Modi’s point of view, the action was well timed. His brutal inhuman repression of the freedom struggle in Kashmir had gone unchallenged by the world. He was in the good books of Mr. Putin, Mr. Xi, President Trump and of course his advisor the Israeli Prime Minister Mr. Netanyahu. Pakistan was under economic pressure, under US pressure on Afghanistan under IMF constraints and FATF scrutiny and internally striving for political stability. An obviously externally sponsored terrorist attack in North Waziristan, another in Baluchistan and a series of unprovoked violations on the Line of Control in Kashmir created the coercive distraction under which the Indian military moved over 38000 additional troops into IOK. Subsequently IOK was put in lock down and Kashmiri leaders arrested. So it was a carefully planned and orchestrated event with the Indian military fully involved in a deed most foul—just as it was in the politically motivated exploitation of the IOK related Pulwama incident and the subsequent violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Did President Trump’s offer to mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir trigger the Indian action? Unlikely. More likely is that President Trump and Mr. Netanyahu were taken into confidence by Mr. Modi and that President Trump correctly stated that Mr. Modi had asked him to mediate but the mediation was to be post the Article 370 event in IOK. India did not like the way the Kashmir issue was being internationalized by Pakistan and the flak it was getting for repeatedly refusing to agree to Pakistan’s offer of an unconditional dialogue and its brutality in IOK. Now if there is mediation—bilateral or multilateral—India will dictate from a maximalist position by threatening demographic changes in Kashmir and increased repression forcing an exodus into Pakistan with a Palestinian like situation emerging. The only points on which India might agree to discuss are cross LOC trade and more cross LOC people to people contact but only if Pakistan accepts the changed status of Kashmir. It is more likely that India will now treat the LOC as an extension of the international border doing away with the ‘Working Boundary’ the ‘Line of Contact’ in Siachen and the LOC in Kashmir terminologies. India has always ignored the UNMOGIP (United Nations Military Observer Group In India and Pakistan) and the UN Resolution calling for a plebiscite to resolve the Kashmir issue.

Will there be repercussions in India? As per reports India has not done away completely with Article 370 because that might have led to a judicial review. It has carefully repealed selected parts of Article 370 to suit its future plans to integrate IOK. India could be challenged for not going through the IOK legislative Assembly as stipulated in the Constitution but there was no such Assembly as there was Presidents’ Rule and a Presidential Ordinance has been issued to give legal cover to the action. There could be massive upheaval and violence in IOK but the vastly increased strength of the military in IOK will lead to mass genocide and unspeakable brutality on the Kashmiris. The US State Department spokesperson has set the tone for international reaction by saying that the Indians are calling their action an internal matter and calling for restraint etc. Pakistan has reached out to the OIC, to other Muslim States and the UN but will there be anything beyond condemnation—after all economic interests trump everything else.

Strategy is rarely inspirational. It is also not born out of knee jerk reactions to events– but a series of tactical actions can deliver strategic results sometimes. Beyond doing what needs to be done as a reaction to what has been done in Kashmir Pakistan has to evolve a long term strategy to deal with India and the starting point has to be forging internal strength—political, economic, psycho-social, diplomatic and military power.

(Spearhead Analyses are collaborative efforts and not attributable to an individual)