Kashmir conundrum

The world is aware of developments in Kashmir but not yet alarmed. India needs to ensure these concerns do not go beyond a certain threshold. United States President Donald Trump’s communications with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan were about lowering the temperature between two countries. This is a minor victory for New Delhi, for Trump’s offer’s to mediate for the second time have now been banished into the fantasy world they had come from. Trump indicated that he might discuss the issue when he would be meeting Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the upcoming G7 summit in France.
He did urge dialogue between the two countries, something the international community and Pakistan converge on. But the Modi government’s position on talks is not without merit. Dialogue in the past has led to a dead end, and served only to provide cover for Pakistan to resume terrorist attack against India. Modi is well within his rights to argue dialogue must be conditional on Pakistan’s ending support for terrorism and Islamabad acceptance of the changed realities in Kashmir. There is no evidence of Pakistan accepting either stance.
While New Delhi emerged from the informal United Nation Security Council meeting on Kashmir unscathed, the real diplomatic test will come as security restrictions in the Valley are gradually lifted. If the protests follow, the Government must minimize violence and ensure no bloodshed, even as it moves towards restoring democracy in Jammu and Kashmir. The transition will be tricky enough on the domestic front and any turbulence on international front will complicate matters.
Trump and other world leaders seem ready to give India sometime to roll out its policy. However, New Delhi has done poorly in explaining its policy to international civil society. This is a shortcoming that needs to be addressed. India needs to make it clear why an older Kashmir policy, built around autonomy and Pakistan, is no longer relevant and why its new policy deserves a chance to succeed.
Harihar Swarup
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