Understanding Pakistan’s Kashmir conundrum

How India-Pakistan relations impact development in Kasmir?

Context:

As the central government initiates political engagement with the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir this week, for the first time since the state was reorganized in August 2019. This is closely watched by Pakistan.

The play of Pakistan:

Even before the central government announcement, Pakistan went into a diplomatic overdrive to draw the world’s attention to the Kashmir. As Pakistan accuses India’s “new plans” as to move to further divide Jammu and Kashmir.

How India-Pakistan relations evolved so far?
  1. Endless cycle of talks-terror-talks was India’s earlier engagement with Pakistan.
  2. The present government initiated complex diplomatic/political/military dynamic relations with Pakistan. For example,
    • Inviting then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to swearing-in ceremony in 2014.
    • Indian Prime Minister’s landing at Pakistan at the end of 2015 on a few hours’ notice at Nawaz Sharif’s family home outside Lahore.
    • When terror attack happened, India broke custom by inviting Pakistan to join the investigations. But Pakistan’s intelligence establishment was in no mood to cooperate.
  3. After a major terror attack on Uri in September 2016, Indian government changed its approach and ordered the Indian Army to carry out “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control.
  4. In the aftermath of Pulwama terror attack in February 2019, India ordered the Air Force to carry out a raid on a terror camp at Balakot in Pakistan. Pakistan’s response the next day led to the first aerial combat between the two air forces since 1971.
  5. In 2019, India changed the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir, separating Ladakh from it, and declaring the two entities as union territories.
  6. This along with Surgical strike and other prompt response by India forced Pakistan towards diplomacy rather than force.
How the Kashmir issue in diplomacy dealt with?

While China, Pakistan’s ally and a party to the Kashmir question, sought UNSC intervention, India blocked the move with support from France, Russia and the US.

Pakistan also accused India at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

What are the recent positive developments in India-Pakistan relations?

The security establishments in India and Pakistan embarked on backchannel diplomacy that produced quick results.

India and Pakistan announced a ceasefire on the Line of Control in February. The two sides agreed to “address each other’s core issues and concerns” that tend to “disturb peace”.

Pakistan’s army chief called for a reorientation of Pakistan’s national strategy away from “geopolitics” to “geoeconomics”. He also underlined the importance of good neighbourly relations with Afghanistan and India.

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Pakistan’s present dilemma on Kashmir:

Even though, Kashmir is now on the bilateral agenda, Pakistan needs to prioritize on what should it focus. Either on Article 370 that defines the region’s special status in the Indian Union or Article 35A that protects the region’s demographic profile.

Realists in Pakistan perhaps know that India will not restore the pre-August 2019 legal status in Kashmir

Conclusion:

Irrespective of the Pakistan’s debate, The central government in India owes itself a new and mutually acceptable compact with Kashmir’s political class. India’s success on that front will inevitably and irrevocably alter the terms of India’s engagement with Pakistan on Kashmir.

Source: The Indian Express

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