Friday, March 31, 2023

Revoking Article 370 and Changing Status of Kashmir: Pakistan’s Kashmir Policy over the Past 70 Years

A sudden decision of revoking article 370 by Modi’s government started an uproar on Kashmir issue. in the past couple of years, there are various headlines regarding the Kashmir issue where many countries and organizations have spoken out. What is article 370? What does revoking Article 370 mean? What are the political developments after revoking article 370? Read the article to know more.


What is Article 370?

Article 370 awards s special autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) allowing the local government of J&K to form its own constitution without external involvement. It also states that the state of J&K to have its separate flag and grants decision-making power in the matter of state excluding foreign affairs and defense matters.

This special status to Kashmir was granted as a result of the Treaty of Accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1947. As the Treaty of Accession was a temporary deal signed to allow J&K to join the Indian state at the time of partition. To maintain the autonomy of Kashmir the article 370 was introduced to grant Jammu and Kashmir an independent constitution and government.

Similarly, article 35A was included to further limit the Indian involvement in the matters of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Article 35A also grants special status to Kashmiris. It forbids outside settlements in Kashmir, buying and selling lands to people other than Kashmiris, prohibits scholarship grants and government jobs in Kashmir to outsiders.

Revoking Article 370
Image Courtesy GlobalVillageSpace
Revoking Article 370: What does it mean?

The current government of India, BJP a.k.a Modi Sarkar is a right-wing party following nationalist agenda since day one. On 5 August 2019, BJP took the step of revoking article 370 that shook involved stakeholders. What shook the world was the exclusion of Kashmiri leaders and legislators while making this decision. This was followed by protests and disagreements all around the world.

Revoking Article 370 was limiting India’s involvement in the state of J&K therefore, Modi took this big step to plan Hindu settlement in the region of J&K in the future. On one side, Indian Nationalists and right-wing allies were celebrating this move by BJP. According to them, it was a bold move that was due and finally, BJP has delivered what should have been taken place years ago. On the contrary, seculars, journalists, intellectuals, and analysts from all over the world opposed the decision saying it is an unconstitutional move.

Many journalists and politicians from India also opposed revoking article 370 including Rahul Gandhi, Chidam Baram (senior politician), Ajay Shukla (defense analyst), Shivan Vij (journalist from the Print magazine), Asaduddin Owasi (a prominent Muslim leader in India), etc. Moreover, Mehbooba Mufti before her arrest gave various statements opposing the BJP’s move to tarnish Kashmir’s demography for personal agenda.

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Legal Consequences

Article 370 was supposed to have a permanent status and no changes can be made in this law without the J&K state’s assembly endorsement. Considering this, revoking article 370 seems to be an illegal move as the J&K assembly was not involved during the process.

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on revoking article 370 admits that the decision is incompatible with the constitution of India and the constitutional rights of Kashmiris. It also asks the President of India to revisit their decision and involve the J&K assembly in decision-making regarding the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The Indian Government has pushed through these changes in contravention of domestic and international standards …………… The legality of the Indian Government’s measures to eviscerate Article 370 will certainly be tested before the Indian judiciary, which should look closely at the serious violations of proper legislative and Constitutional processes. All eyes are now on the Indian Supreme Court to fulfill its functions in defense of the rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian Constitution.”

Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Secretary-General.

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Worldwide Reaction

BJP government received an overwhelming opposing reaction from worldwide and even from Indian intellectuals and human rights activists. The opposition gained momentum when the Indian government decided to put a complete lockdown in J&K and cut the communication of people of J&K from the outside world. Moreover, this event was followed by violence on protesting Kashmiris and the arrest of their prominent leader. Worldwide human rights NGOs and activits protested and pressurized the BJP to revisit their decision.

Kashmiris call revoking article 370 a systematic plan to change the demographics of the area that seems to be inspired by the Israeli policy of Palestine. Kashmiris want to restore the autonomy of Kashmir as a state and reject the new status of union territory granted to them by the BJP. The move proved to be very undemocratic from a country that claims to be the biggest democracy in the world.

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Is Modi Restoring Article 370?

There has been constant unrest after the BJP’s sudden decision of revoking article 370. The negative reaction and turmoil in India’s internal politics forced Modi to adopt a different route. Considering these conditions, Modi arranged a meeting with Kashmiri Leadership including Farooq Abdullah and his son Umer Abdullah (from party National Conference), Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mehbooba Mufti (People’s Democratic Party), and other Kashmiri and Indian leadership. The aim of the meeting was to a) show the world that India is involving Kashmiri leadership in the decisions b) to adopt backdoor diplomacy regarding Kashmir Issue.

Although the meeting gained hype in international media, the details of the meeting do not in any way indicate that Modi will restore article 370. Modi says to make Kashmir a state of India without restoring article 370, which means Kashmir will be given s status of the Indian state that comes under the Indian constitution.

This new development seems to be a win-win recipe for India and further confirms India’s agenda of systematically oppressing Kashmir.

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Pakistan’s Policy toward Kashmir

Since day one, Pakistan stands on the ground that no unfair occupation of Kashmir’s land will be tolerated. For this purpose, Pakistan has repeatedly taken the case to the UN council for a resolution of Kashmir issue. According to Simla Agreement, 1972, the Kashmir issue will be solved by a bilateral decision. To this day, Pakistan stands with Simla agreement but India’s actions portray the opposite reality.

In the past few years, India has started violating the fundamental rights of kashmiris and inflicting extreme violence on the people. This action of India has not only been condemned by Pakistan but the matter has been brought in the limelight of international media and the UN. Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, straightforwardly spoke at the UN’s platform that Pakistan will never agree to India’s decision of revoking article 370. Furthermore, India should stick to the constitutional process and play fairly.

The diplomatic maneuvering under Khan’s leadership has proven a positive step for Pakistan as Turkey, Malaysia, and China have openly talked about the Kashmir issue, opposed revoking article 370, and warned India to quit the unfair play. Moreover, Pakistan’s success on the diplomatic front is another pressure on India. After revoking article 370, India has faced massive criticism and Pakistan has also used this opportunity to talk about the Kashmir issue on various platforms. Whether or not Modi takes his decision of revoking article 370 back, it is clear that that the world is keeping a keen eye on the changing Kashmir status.

Image Courtesy DunyaNews

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