Impact of the Article 370 verdict

Harsha Kakar
The Supreme Court judgement has made Article 370 history. Years from now, the nation would have forgotten it even existed. It may only remain in history books as a has been. The verdict was received as expected within the nation. Indian political parties adopted their stand based on their approach.
For the BJP it was a means of proving that the strategy they adopted in revoking the article was right and hence a reason to celebrate. For the Congress, it implied that the decision taken in according it in 1949 and endorsed by them over the years was wrong. It also displayed that they lacked understanding that it could be reversed or possibly feared backlash in tampering with it.It therefore disagreed with the verdict of the court.
For valley based political parties, it was a setback. It removed all their special privileges which they had enjoyed for decades. Omar Abdullah commented that they would continue to fight for it. Farooq Abdullah mentioned, ‘Let Jammu and Kashmir go to hell…They betrayed people. They want to win people’s hearts. How’d you win that if you’d do such things to push people farther away?’
Within the Union Territory there were no protests or even a whiff of anger. Life went on as normal and it appeared that the populace had hoped for this verdict. With the Hurriyat now defunct and political parties compelled to change their tunes for forthcoming elections there were no calls for hartals to display disagreement with the Supreme Court verdict.
Was the article largely responsible for violence and lack of development within the valley is debateable, though it was one of the grounds on which the Government justified its decision to revoke it, quoting statistics. Politically, this decision has come as a boost to the BJP as national elections draw close. It will open doors for them to criticize multiple decisions taken by the Congress over the decades. The same has already commenced in Parliament. The verdict also enabled the BJP to project itself as a political party which adheres to its promises.
The resonance was felt more in the neighbourhood. Pakistan was the first to jump into the fray. The judgement made all of Pakistan’s claims on the region redundant. Their caretaker foreign minister, Jalil Abbas Jilani, stated, ‘The credibility of the Indian Supreme Court has been compromised for the last several years, particularly ever since the advent of the current leadership in India.’ He added ‘(India had) no right to make unilateral decisions on the status of this disputed territory against the will of the Kashmiri people.’
Jilani mentioned that Pakistan will communicate with multiple international organizations including the UN, European Parliament and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Interestingly, protests against the decision were organized in Pakistan and not India. Pakistan continues to insist that the decision cannot change the disputed status of Kashmir. It harps on the resolution through the UN and mediation, ignoring the Shimla agreement and Lahore declaration, which has made mediation and UN involvement irrelevant.
A saving grace for Pakistan has been the reference of granting statehood to J and K in the verdict. Once this has been complied with, Pakistan could consider shunning its objections to removal of the article. It is aware that if it has to change its economic policies and move away from its debt trap, it needs to mend fences with India. Nawaz Sharif, the possible next Pak PM, has been hinting on the same.
The other nation which protested against the decision to revoke Article 370 was China. It was also compelled to eat humble pie. The Chinese spokesperson stated that the Kashmir issue should be resolved ‘in accordance with the UN charter, UNSC resolutions and relevant bilateral agreements.’
On Ladakh the Chinese spokesperson stated that China never recognized India’s ‘unilaterally, illegally established Ladakh Union Territory.’ It added, ‘India’s domestic judicial deliberation cannot change the objective fact that the western section on China-India border belongs to China.’ Adverse comments from China and Pak were expected.
While Pakistan may be down economically, impacting its military power, it retains the ability to create nuisance in Kashmir as its terrorist infrastructure remains intact. Its close ties with China will ensure the two-front threat will continue to be a challenge.
The US State Department Spokesperson, Mathew Miller, was non-committal on the verdict. Questioned by a Pakistani correspondent, he stated, ‘We continue to follow developments in Jammu and Kashmir closely, noting the Supreme Court’s recent ruling. We look forward to further steps by the Indian Government to fulfil its pledges to restore political normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, including by holding assembly elections as stipulated in the Supreme Court’s ruling.’
For the rest of the world, including West Asian nations, Kashmir holds no importance. The OIC pushed by Pak did issue a statement which was condemned by India, stating, ‘It is both ill-informed and ill-intended.Such statements only undermine OIC’s credibility.’
India’s global position and improved relations, as also ongoing conflicts in West Asia and Ukraine has pushed Kashmir as a flashpoint onto the backburner. India’s growing economic might and increasing gap with Pakistan has made nations seek ties with India, ignoring Pakistan’s cries on Kashmir. Further, Pakistan’s prominence due to its strategic location as also its participation in the global war on terror has drastically reduced.
For India, to eradicate the notion globally that Kashmir is a flashpoint, it has to restore normalcy in the region and bring in a democratically elected Government at the earliest. The Government had sought to project the view that Kashmir is peaceful when it conducted a G20 preliminary meeting in Srinagar.
Pakistan is facing growing insecurity on its western borders. As long as the situation remains on the boil in the country, its emphasis will remain there. It cannot risk activating a second front. Hence, while it may continue to support terrorism in Kashmir, it will never let it spiral to a point beyond India’s level of patience. Further is growing discontentment in POK. This provides India with time to create the right atmosphere and restore normalcy in the region.
For this all organs of the state need to work in unison.
The author is Major General (Retd)