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ABROGATION OF ARTICLE 370 AND OPTIONS FOR PAKISTAN

  

A new chapter has been written in the history of independent India when, in a historic and most audacious  decision, Government of India (GoI)  had abrogated Article 370 and 35A on August 5, 2019 in Jammu & Kashmir(J&K). The state will now be bifurcated into two Union territories: Ladakh without a legislature, and Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature.

The step has been taken in midst of vehement opposition from the mainstream leaders of J&K.  Now the main challenge, the GoI face is to ensure its acceptance by the main stakeholders i.e. the people of the state. Though GoI was determined to revoke the Article 370 but it was in the backdrop of development on US-Afgan-pak front and US President Mr Donald trump’s ‘offer’ to mediate on Kashmir during  Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the US, probably compelled India to hasten the process.

Reaction by Pakistan

Pakistan has strongly rejected India’s unilateral decision of abrogating the Article 370 and vowed to explore all possible measures including taking it United Nations(UN) claiming it being an international issue. Pakistan reaffirmed its resolve to continue political, diplomatic and moral support to the people of Kashmir. It appears that Pakistan is in absolute disarray and confused state.

In a kneejerk reaction, Pakistan Government has downgraded the diplomatic relations and sent India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria  back to India. It also suspended the bilateral trade between the two countries.  Subsequently Pakistan also partially closed its airspace from 6 August to 5 September every day except Sundays between 2.45 am and 11 am (local time) besides banning screening of Indian films across Pakistan.

On diplomatic front, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah mahmood Qureshi briefed all Ambassadors and Heads of Mission on abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir.  Simultaneously, the issue was also raised with a top aide of UN Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres by Pakistan’s envoy to UN and in separate meeting.   Maleeha Lodhi requested President of UN Security Council, Joanna Wronecka for intervention in the Kashmir issue.  Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a bid to mobilise International opinion and gather support against India’s ‘unilateral’ decision in J&K, spoke to  number of Head of States, mainly Islamic country playing religious card.

Response from International community

In spite of so many furore by Pakistan, the International community except China, the main ally of Pakistan, backed abrogation of Article 370 and reorganisation of J&K.  

US lawmakers asked Pakistan to refrain from any retaliatory aggression against India. Mr Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said

“Transparency and political participation are the cornerstones of representative democracies, and we hope the Indian government will abide by these principles in Jammu and Kashmir. And at the same time, Pakistan must refrain from any retaliatory aggression – including support for infiltrations across the Line of Control – and take demonstrable action against the terrorist infrastructure on Pakistan’s soil.”

UAE’s ambassador to India Ahmad,  Al Banna said

“We also took note of the introduction of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill in the Indian Parliament aimed at replacing Article 370 with the creation of Ladakh region and the state of Jammu and Kashmir as India’s two new Union Territories”

 Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe , gone  a step further and described India’s action as an “internal” matter and said

“I understand Ladakh will finally become a Union Territory. With over 70% Buddhist it will be the first Indian state with a Buddhist majority. The creation of Ladakh and the consequential restructuring are India’s internal matters. I have visited Ladakh and it is worth a visit” 

The response from China was on expected lines being Pakistan’s strategic partner but is more concerned about  Ladakh being organised as Union Territory because of ‘outstanding’ boundary issues in Ladakh region. It said “In recent days, the Indian side has continued to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally amending its domestic laws. This practice is unacceptable and will not produce any effect.” 

Viewpoint

The actions taken by Pakistan are of cosmetic nature intended for public consumptions to demonstrate to the people of Pakistan that it dealing with the matter. The trade between the two countries has never been huge as the total export to Pakistan was $2.06billion while imports were $495millio in FY19.

The trade was  further affected post Pulwama attack where 40 Indian Paramilitary persons died and India withdrawing Most Favoured Nation(MFN) and imposing 200% duty on imports from Pakistan. The snapping of trade ties with India will hit Pakistan more and have negligible effect on India.

Today, Pakistan stand exposed on world stage that it was completely involved in ongoing insurgency in the Kashmir and providing full fledged support to terrorists in terms of training, funding, provision of arms & ammunition and continue to do as claimed by Pakistan Government post abrogation of Article 370.

 Pakistan has been placed in the Grey list by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and is on the verge of getting into ‘Blacklist’, compelled to take decisive actions against the terrorism. Off late, Pakistan has annoyed his old and all weather trusted friend China after it shown its intent to change loyalties towards United States and future of CPEC at stake. With economy of the country is on the verge of collapse, International isolation, large number of domestic issues left Pakistan with very limited options to take any drastic action against India except exploring diplomatic channel and continue to raise the issue at various world forums.

10 Aug 19/Saturday                                                   Written by Fayaz

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