Since the partition of India in 1947, which established the two independent states of India and Pakistan, Pakistan has infiltrated soldiers into Indian Kashmir, assisted anti-Indian terrorists in Jammu-Kashmir and sponsored many murderous operations inside India proper. Pictured: Srinagar, the largest city of Kashmir. (Image source: KennyOMG/Wikimedia Commons)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently responded to the heavy criticism he has been receiving -- and to violent protests that erupted -- over his controversial decision to revoke Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which granted a certain degree of autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, by calling for "hugging each Kashmiri" and for the creation of a "new paradise" in the valley.
Modi accused elements "from across the border" in Pakistan of spurring the protests that have been taking place since August 5, when New Delhi announced the revoking of Article 370 – a move he said "is going to be the medium for fulfilling the aspirations and dreams of the people of Jammu and Kashmir."
Modi insisted that what the "youth, mothers and sisters in Jammu and Kashmir" want is "development and new job opportunities."
The previously autonomous region of Jammu-Kashmir is an 86,000-square-mile Muslim-majority area in the north of India Proper, nearly half of which is controlled by India and the rest is divided between Pakistan and China. Territorial control of the area has been the prime cause of wars in 1947 and 1965, and of many deadly skirmishes between India and Pakistan.
The border between the Indian and Pakistani areas of Jammu-Kashmir is fixed along the internationally recognized "Line of Control."
Since the partition of India in 1947, which established the two independent states of India and Pakistan, Pakistan has infiltrated soldiers into Indian Kashmir, assisted anti-Indian Muslim terrorists in Jammu-Kashmir and sponsored many murderous operations inside India proper.
When Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014 -- and won re-election in May 2019 -- New Delhi aimed more fully to integrate Jammu-Kashmir into the rest of India. Revoking Article 370 was key to this goal. In addition, the new measure includes a protocol that permits, for the first time, foreign-based investment in Jammu-Kashmir -- as well as the development of the tourism industry -- and also allows Hindu Indians to purchase land there, which could alter the demographic makeup of the area.
India's assertion of sovereignty in Jammu-Kashmir is not merely a local issue; more importantly, it has global significance. India is determined to safeguard its standing as the world's most populous democracy, particularly in the shadow of the rising power of totalitarian China, which enjoys a close relationship with Pakistan. Revoking Article 370 sends a clear signal to both Pakistan and China that India will resolutely defend its territory against efforts by Islamabad or Beijing to whittle away at Indian sovereignty in any portion of its territory.
India may therefore consider a strategic alliance with the U.S. to protect the Indo-Pacific region from Chinese territorial aggression and acquisitive claims of sovereignty in the South and East China Seas. Indian and U.S. naval assets already have sought to protect mainland and archipelago Southeast Asian countries from being bullied by China's growing maritime presence and claims of ownership of several disputed islands in regional waters.
US President Donald J. Trump, after meeting with Modi on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France at the end of August, the following day told reporters:
"We spoke last night about Kashmir. The prime minister really feels he has it under control. They [Indians] speak with Pakistan and I'm sure that they will be able to do something that will be very good."
Meanwhile, however, according to a September 18 report in Newsweek, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's "special assistant for overseas Pakistanis and human resource development" said, "We're extremely concerned that [Modi's Kashmir move] could snowball into a nuclear war." Although Islamabad is trying to garner international sympathy and support against New Delhi concerning Kashmir, certain members of the European Parliament, such as the Polish MEP Ryszard Czarnecki and Italian MEP Fulvio Martusciello, have openly sided with India.
On September 18 speaking in the European Parliament, Czarnecki said:
"India is the greatest democracy in the world. We need to look at terrorist acts that took place in India, and Jammu and Kashmir. These terrorists didn't land from the moon. They were coming from the neighbouring country. We should support India."
During the same parliamentary session, Martusciello said:
"Pakistan has threatened to use nuclear arms. Pakistan is somewhere where terrorists have been able to plan bloody terrorist attacks in Europe without mentioning tremendous human rights violation in Pakistan."
Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.