A new dimension to the existing security equation in the subcontinent has been added by President Trump. In his recent meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, he indicated that he was willing to mediate over the Kashmir issue if Pakistan was to help America extricate from Afghanistan, as its 18-year campaign to militarily tame the Taliban has failed. This turnaround and the new US-Pak bonding took India by surprise.
Pak Desperately Needs US Intervention
Pakistan’s ruling dispensation desperately needed to regain their clout with the US. They needed it in order to balance their current vassal-like relationship with China. The proposed tactic can be broken down into four key points –
- Pakistan delivers in Afghanistan, in return for a resumption of military aid
- The US helps to push India to the talks’ table on Kashmir
- It gives Pakistan a decisive say in the future of Afghanistan
- It eliminates India’s role in the war-torn country
But there is more than meets the eye!
Even though the US and India are strategic partners, their interests in Afghanistan have often clashed. While the US shoots its way out of Afghanistan, India strangely continues to pour money into it. India also realises that once the US pulls out of Afghanistan, the Pakistanis are going to invite China into Afghanistan. Pakistan alone cannot bear the costs of using Afghanistan for their tactical and strategic moves against India. Moreover, China needs to regulate a post-US Afghanistan to deny the use of that country as a launching pad for Uighur freedom fighters into neighbouring Chinese occupied Xinjiang.
Abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A
The Modi government decided to repeal both Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution. The provisions granted special status to the state of J&K. However, now, their abrogation has several implications for the State and its people, and for the security of the State. There are reasons to argue that as a collateral outcome, these decisions will finally free the state from the tyranny of majoritarianism that the politicians in the Valley had subjected them to since independence. More recently, the steady implementation of an austere brand of hardline Islam complemented the autonomous status of J&K. Wahhabism ghettoised J&K under a Pak-Saudi agenda. All this happened under the nose of past governments in Delhi and Srinagar.
Pak-China Nexus: A Threat for India
That apart, the Pak-China nexus would be the biggest threat to India. From territorial pressures to cyberattacks, they would all demand constant vigil. The Chinese could further use their increasing bonds with Russia to limit India’s military capabilities on land and on the sea. Beijing is working to exploit the potential of the Indus River system with very large dams in Gilgit-Baltistan to produce enough quantities of microchip—since every 30cm2 requires 10,000 litres of water—to dominate future technologies. In the 1950s, China swallowed up a large part of Ladakh and is now all over POK. In fact, both China and Pakistan are more interested in the waters of the Indus and the glaciers that feed them, than the future of the people of J&K. How India responds to these challenges will have to be seen. The Kashmir issue is now clearly entering a new chapter.
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