How Modi government is ensuring Kashmir becomes an international issue

Ashok Swain
Ashok SwainJun 27, 2018 | 12:52

How Modi government is ensuring Kashmir becomes an international issue

On June 12, 2018, Governor's rule was imposed once again in Jammu and Kashmir after the collapse of the PDP-BJP coalition government.


Governor's rule is not uncommon in J&K. Even present governor NN Vohra has had to run the state twice in the past.

What is unprecedented are the popular protests going on since 2015 due to the disillusionment of the Valley's youth with the unexpected post-election alliance between the PDP with the BJP.


Popular protests in the Valley have become more widespread and violent particularly after the killing of young and charismatic Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in the summer of 2016.

With this round of Governor's rule, security operations might get more coordinated and intense, but that is less likely to bring back normalcy to the Valley. No sincere negotiation process with the separatist forces of the state is underway. At the same time India's relationship with Pakistan has reached one of its lowest points. Moreover, BJP's aggressive attempt at mobilising the Hindus in Jammu has divided the state like never before.

Overall, due to Modi government's failed policies, India seems to have completely lost its plot in Kashmir.

Kashmir has remained India's headache since 1947. The trouble in the Valley is not new. Since 1947, there have been political unrests at regular intervals. However, despite a number of serious political and security miscalculations, the previous governments in Delhi had managed to keep the Kashmir issue a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan.

There have been attempts by various world powers in the past to mediate in the conflict. Pakistan has always been lobbying for outside powers to get involved in the issue to dilute India's strategic domination.


The smart use of the Tibet card by Delhi had also forced Pakistan's "iron brother" China to stay out of India-Pakistan rivalry over Kashmir. But India's seven decades of successful effort to keep Kashmir out of global power politics seems to have collapsed in recent months.

The Kashmir issue is fast getting internationalised. And only the strategic and diplomatic blunders of the Narendra Modi government are responsible for it.

Just five days before the promulgation of Governor's rule in Kashmir on June 14, 2018, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released its first-ever report on Kashmir. Though the report highlights human rights abuse by both India and Pakistan, it has been particularly harsh against India by criticising its security forces for inflicting mass-civilian killings and atrocities to control rising popular protests.

Accusing Pakistan of suppressing peaceful dissent in its controlled territory, the report claims that the Indian security forces on the other hand, have killed 145 civilians from July 2016 to March 2018. The report also highlights the use of pellet-firing shotguns and human shields by Indian forces.

Not only OHCHR chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has released the report, he is also asking Human Right Council to form a commission of inquiry "to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir".


It might not be possible for the OHCHR to initiate an inquiry but the recommendation itself puts India in the category of international outcastes like Burundi, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria.

The OHCHR report is a serious setback to India's strategy of keeping Kashmir as a bilateral issue. The report has strongly challenged India's long-held position and if the OHCHR manages to form a commission of inquiry, Kashmir will formally graduate to be an international issue.

As expected from Modi government, India came out all guns blazing and accused the OHCHR chief of harbouring a personal bias against India, and described the eeport as "fallacious, tendentious and motivated".

But this reaction is in no way going to stop Pakistan from reiterating its demand for an international probe into human rights violations in Kashmir. The OHCHR report has emboldened Pakistan and revived the hope of Kashmiri activists and diaspora to pursue their campaign with greater vigour.


Instead of rhetorically lashing out at the report, India could have pointed at its methodological deficiencies as it draws its findings from "remote monitoring" and at the same time would have given a response befitting a respected member of international community by expressing its willingness to look into allegations made in the report. But, Modi government's foreign policy is more focused on spectacles than on substance.

On the same day, the Governor's rule was imposed in Kashmir, the Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui openly suggested a trilateral cooperation between China, India and Pakistan under the aegis of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to solve bilateral issues between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir.

Since the Doklam standoff, China has dropped its hesitance in openly interfering in Kashmir. At the height of Doklam crisis, even China had threatened India with the possibility of its army entering Kashmir to support Pakistan.

Though, the Donald Trump administration has been quite vague over its reaction to the Chinese envoy's recent offer to be a party to the Kashmir issue, it has already expressed its readiness to mediate between India and Pakistan in April 2017.

Considering the unpredictability of the Trump administration, it will be foolhardy to remain confident about US supporting India's position on Kashmir.

The Modi government should read the warning from the The World Factbook of the CIA under the Trump administration, which describes Hindu right groups such as Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad as "religious militant organisations".

While US' position has become very unpredictable, Pakistan, with overt support from China and covert support from Russia, is much stronger diplomatically vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue.

In this context, unless the Modi government starts a comprehensive peace process with Pakistan to bring normalcy to the Valley and stops its partisan politics of mobilisation of Hindus in Jammu, it will not be possible for India to arrest the rapid drift of the Kashmir issue to the international stage.

Last updated: June 28, 2018 | 12:30
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