India has done well so far on Kashmir, but Narendra Modi’s real test starts when curbs are relaxed and blackout ends
Faced with noxious rhetoric and naked war-mongering from Pakistan, India has so far shown admirable patience. New Delhi understands that for the first time in 70 years it has seized the initiative on Kashmir and it is in no hurry to let go of that advantage. After India’s abrogation of Article 370, withdrawal of semi-autonomous status and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, Islamabad is left with very few options. In desperation, it is threatening to use nuclear weapons and promising Armageddon to spook western nations into acting against India.
It understands Pakistan’s game plan and has refused to be drawn into a rhetorical slanging match, advising Pakistan to accept the reality that Kashmir is India’s “internal matter” and urging it not to “project a panic situation”.
In response to a provocative propaganda piece by Imran on the pages of The New York Times, India’s minister for external affairs S Jaishankar said he “didn’t have the time to read it.” He also dismissed Imran’s “conditional offer” for “talks” by repeating India’s well-stated position that talks and terror cannot go together.
If Imran’s ploy has been to issue nuclear threat to force western nations into pressing India for a dialogue, India understands that this is pure bluff-mongering by Islamabad. “Terrorism is not something that is being conducted in the dark corners of Pakistan. It’s done in broad daylight,” said Jaishankar in an interview with a Brussels-based newspaper.
India’s strategy is evident. It will ignore the noise from Islamabad, secure in the knowledge that Pakistan has no real leverage against India. And it will meticulously cover the diplomatic base to keep the global opinion on its side. And so far, India’s strategy has been quite successful. Except for nutty socialist leaders from the US and the UK such as Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn (the latter has to please his British-Pakistani community), major global powers including the Islamic Gulf nations have come out on India’s side.
This solid diplomatic support for India is not to be confused with the commentary from western media that has largely been critical of India’s move. In reality, however, US president Donald Trump has retreated from his earlier position to now call Kashmir a “bilateral issue” that both nations are capable of handling. The US military establishment is firmly behind India and has called out Pakistan as the chief destabilising force in south Asia.