New Kashmir Black Day

London-sit-in-infront-of-Indian-HCBy S. M. Hali

Narendra Modi, the “new Sherriff in town” appears to be following a script envisioned by Indian bureaucracy, military and intelligentsia hawks regarding Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and Pakistan. During his election campaign, Modi raised jingoistic slogans, castigating the Indian National Congress for being soft on Pakistan; simultaneously threatening Pakistan of dire consequences unless it gave up supporting terrorism and meddling in IOK. Pakistani Foreign Office dismissed Modi’s ravings as election-rhetoric, professing that Modi being a proponent of trade and commerce would heed to Pakistan’s overtures of peace, trade and commerce.

Pakistan on the other hand has been bending backwards to achieve peace with India. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s invitation to his Indian counterpart to visit Pakistan, resume dialogue for peace and renew trade ties has been coldly spurned.

Perhaps Pakistan should have made more concerted efforts to devise a strategy to improve relations with India, especially when it became imminent that the Congress would not return to power and Modi was likely to be elected. The millstone around the neck of the Congress was coalition partners with diverse interests but unfettered by such encumbrances, BJP is free to behave in an intimidating manner towards Pakistan.

PM Nawaz Sharif, also holding the vital portfolio of Foreign Minister, in his naïveté, missed the tell tale signs. His two external affairs advisors too failed to correlate the predictable future, evident from Modi’s track record of targeting Muslims and Pakistan during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat. The 2002 planned genocide of Muslims in the province under Modi’s watch and the known rancor the Hindu extremist group, the Sangh Parivar and its political wing the BJP carries towards Muslims and Pakistan is well documented. Perhaps they were misled by BJP’s previous track record in government under the guardianship of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Modi does not measure up to the stature and statesmanship of Vajpayee.

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The first invitation to Nawaz Sharif to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Modi as Prime Minister should have been an eye-opener to a keen Indologist since all SAARC leaders including Pakistan were invited. The caveat for Pakistan being that Sharif would not receive any Kashmiri leadership during his visit to New Delhi. Timidly Pakistan accepted the pre-condition although it was contrary to protocol. All previous visits by Pakistani leaders to India had included deliberations with Kashmiri leadership, facilitated by Indian government. Vajpayee had gone out on a limb when he hosted military dictator General Pervez Musharraf, who could have been unwelcome due to his Kargil adventurism. The Indian government organized Musharraf’s consultations with Kashmiri leaders even before he held talks with Vajpayee. The rationale being that if Pakistani leaders are expected to hold a discourse with India to resolve the Kashmir issue, it is imperative to be fully cognizant of the aspirations of the Kashmiris.

Undeterred by the precondition and without reading too much in Modi’s cold shoulder treatment, Nawaz Sharif was content to hold business meetings with the Birlas and Mittals, his Indian steel and iron magnate counterparts.

True to his saffron upbringing, Modi fired the first salvo on Pakistan ironically on his visit to Kargil on 12 August, followed by the cancellation of Pak-India Secretary level talks scheduled for 25 August 2014 on the flimsy plea that Pakistani High Commissioner to New Delhi had parleyed with Kashmiri leaders despite Indian External Affairs Secretary warning to refrain from doing so.

More aggression was to follow; unprovoked shelling into Pakistan across the Line of Control and the Working Boundary continues incessantly, taking a toll of over a dozen precious lives. The Pakistani Prime Minister’s address to the UN General Assembly, raising the core issue of Kashmir, touched a raw nerve with India, who verbally assaulted Nawaz Sharif although UNGA is the most relevant platform for raising it. Contrarily, the Kashmiris, heartened by Nawaz’s UNGA address, organized “Kashmir Million March” in London on 26 October 2014 to highlight their plight and urge Britain to facilitate the Kashmiris obtain their legitimate right of self-determination.

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Tragically, Indian leaders’ bellicosity continues unabated, adhering to the script for Modi to secure a final solution for Kashmir: reneging on the UN Resolutions on the Kashmir issue, the Simla Accord and integrating Kashmir into India. One his first acts as PM was to rescind Indian Constitution’s Article 370, which gave special autonomous status to Kashmir. Modi’s calculus is that Pakistan can be subdued into accepting the fait-accompli on Kashmir since Pakistan’s conventional forces are ill-matched to India while it will refrain from launching its nukes.

October 27 is observed as Black Day because in 1947 on this date, Indian armed forces surreptitiously occupied Jammu & Kashmir against the will of the Kashmiris but from now on 26 May, 2014 should be designated as Black Day, when Modi became India’s Prime Minister and attempted to seal the fate of Kashmiri Muslims.

Defence & Diplomacy-Kashmir Black Day by sultanhali

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