How abrogation of Article 370 has helped India diplomatically
The abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, has brought closure to the long-standing vulnerability of India.
Prior to August 5, 2019, the fault line triggered by Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir was a 70-year-old vulnerability of India which was diplomatically exploited by the international community—friends and foes alike.
Given that Article 370, a temporary provision in the Indian Constitution, created an impression that the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, which included Ladakh, now a separate Union territory, was not fully integrated with India, the issue had become a diplomatic lever for friends and foes to extract various concessions from beleaguered India. What began as India’s desire to seek UN help to counter Pakistan's invasion of Kashmir in 1947-48, soon deteriorated into a full-fledged India-Pakistan wrangle, which was exploited by Pakistan and its then allies to pin India down globally. “ It was tantamount to a burglary turned into a house owner-thief dispute,” said a former foreign secretary. The religious radicalization in J&K since the 1990s and Islamic jihad in the name of freedom struggle, engineered by the Pakistan deep state, were all products of this contentious article in many ways. The media narrative about die-hard Afghan war veterans operating in the Valley instilled fear not only among the public but also among security forces at large.
Before 2019, Pakistan used this article with the help of the Left-Liberal media to convince the global audience that J & K was the unfulfilled part of the two-nation theory that created India and Pakistan with religious denomination as the very basis. Various solutions like “Chenab” of “Jhelum” formulas were bandied about by Western think tanks with vested interests to apparently resolve the Kashmir issue, so much so that Pakistan dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf was convinced that India under Atal Bihari Vajpayee would deal on the Valley, which he called a core issue, during his visit to Agra in July 2001. Musharraf like his past predecessors also called Kashmir the jugular (Shahrag) vein of Pakistan in its bid to force India to cede Kashmir with the help of armed Islamic jihadists. Islamabad’s desires were fueled by then-US leaders who needed to indulge Pakistan in Kashmir so that their Afghan calculus did not go awry. This was also the time when junior US diplomats used to preach India on Kashmir and human rights and were also supported by sections of Indian and global media. However, the West, particularly US, UK and Germany, were silent on cross-border terrorism practised by Pakistan in J&K till such time 9/11 terror attacks followed by the Jaish-e-Mohammed attack took place in the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. But the game turned after the dastardly Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba attack on army camp in Kaluchak in May 2002 as India went on the verge of going across the border to teach Pakistan a military lesson.
By abrogating Article 370 and Article 35 A and then publishing the new map defining the cartographic boundaries of both Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have closed the chapter on Kashmir permanently. The new map of the two UTs covers Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, Northern Areas, Shaksgam Valley that Pakistan illegally ceded to China in 1963, and Aksai Chin occupied by China since the 1950s.
Today, when External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar goes on bilateral and multilateral visits abroad, no one raises the topic of Jammu and Kashmir as the UT is permanently integrated into India even on legal paper. Even though Pakistan-sponsored terror attacks do take place in J&K, the frequency has gone down as politicians in Islamabad and generals in Rawalpindi live in fear of retaliation by Modi’s India. The word “Kashmir” does not even find a mention in the latest peace proposal floated by Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif.