Failure Of Diplomacy Means War: Scrapping Article 370 Of The Indian Constitution And Its Implications
Yasser Latif Hamdani in this article analyses what Article 370 means for Kashmir and what would its revocation entail for the Kashmir dispute and the three main parties involved i.e. Pakistan, India and Kashmiris.
The President of India using the powers under Article 370(3) of the Indian Constitution has by public notification scrapped the operation of the Article on the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The status of Jammu and Kashmir was subject to Article 370 because of the history as well as UN Resolutions calling for the right of self-determination.
These “transitional” or “temporary” provisions of the Indian constitution were devices employed to keep unrest in check. Jammu and Kashmir was not the only state to be subject to special provisions. Articles 371 to 371-I provide 10 other such states of the Union subject to special provisions.
However 370 was the most significant because Kashmir is the only Muslim majority state in the Indian Union with an ongoing independence movement. It has now been downgraded from a state to a union territory. Ladakh has been separated from Jammu and Kashmir and turned into a union territory of its own.
Scrapping 370 means that Indian citizens from other parts of the country can now settle in and own property in Jammu and Kashmir. The plan is to convert Jammu and Kashmir into a Hindu majority state so that the question of the right of self-determination dies a natural death. It is straight out of the playbook in Gaza and West Bank. Naturally all the Kashmiri leadership has been put under house arrest including Omar Abdullah.
This is significant because Omar Abdullah’s grandfather Shaikh Abdullah had sided with the Congress in 1947. Even so Shaikh Abdullah was jailed by the Nehru’s dictatorial regime in 1953 and kept behind bars for larger part of a decade. The issue then, as it is now, has always been Kashmir’s special status.
One feels though that in terms of international law, India has bitten off more than it can chew. This unilateral change of status is a clear violation of the UN Resolutions that were put in place after India itself had taken the matter to the UN. This means that India now stands in violation of international law and any ambitions the country had of becoming part of the permanent members of the UN Security Council can now be put to rest. Pakistan’s next moves will be interesting to watch.
Arguably the change of status also vitiates the spirit of the Simla Agreement 1972 which recognised Kashmir as a bilateral issue. India’s unilateral action means that the Simla Agreement no longer remains in force. With bilateralism being buried in this manner, the matter once again becomes an international dispute, threatening global peace. The Indian government might have thought that this was a befitting reply to Donald Trump’s statement about mediation but in essence India has only managed to portray itself as an aggressor willing to violate international law.
Obviously this is a pyrrhic victory for Pakistan because the failure of diplomacy means war. Article 370 was to some extent a safety valve that kept public sentiment in Kashmir in check. As that public sentiment bubbles up, predictably, Pakistan too will come under pressure from within to act.
If LoC is declared an international border by India, the impulse to go to war might sweep aside moderates and peace builders in the country. The subcontinent is at this moment hurtling towards war – a most catastrophic war, which may include use of nuclear weapons.
Former US President Obama had very rightly recognised Kashmir as the complicating factor for Afghanistan. With the Afghan settlement on cards, violence in Kashmir may yet upset the applecart. Never before has the US been so utterly helpless in a situation of this magnitude. On the one hand it needs Pakistan to broker a deal with Taliban and on the other an all out war between Pakistan and India would drag in US’ main adversary China as well. This is how world wars start. The powder keg has been lit. Brace yourselves and let us hope that cooler heads still prevail and India can yet undo its disastrous move.
The writer is a lawyer and commentator. He is also the author of the book ‘Jinnah: Myth and Reality’.