October 9, 2019 5:22 pm

Kashmir Off The Radar?

Post United Nations General Assembly session Kashmir is no longer one of the lead stories in global press. The media attention had followed the revocation of Article 370 of Indian Constitution which granted J&K its autonomy. Even Pakistan has gone silent on the issue. Police in Pakistan Administered Kashmir didn’t let a march by JKLF reach the LoC. Incidentally Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier signalled that he might approve of such a march. Addressing a rally in Muzaffarabad days before his UNGA address, Khan had told the people to wait for his green signal for the march. But Khan later tried to dissuade the people from march to LoC saying doing so “will play into the Indian narrative”.

So, is the international focus on Kashmir finally winding down. It does seems so. For almost one and a half month Kashmir became a major global media story. It was after a long time Kashmir got such an attention. World’s major television channels and newspapers carried stories on the evolving situation in the state following the repeal of Article 370. The stories were largely critical of New Delhi’s Kashmir move. However, the major powers other than China have maintained a largely neutral stand on the issue. Even though they haven’t approved of India’s Kashmir move they haven’t  condemned it either.  New Delhi can take heart from the fact that the major powers have reserved their criticism largely for the communication clampdown in the state and sought early lifting of the restrictions on mobile phones and internet. Even now the only flak that New Delhi is facing is about the curbs it has imposed in Kashmir than about the withdrawal of autonomy of the state. On the other hand, except for China, there have been few takers of Pakistan’s narrative. Khan made an impassioned Kashmir-focussed speech at UNGC but ever since Islamabad is finding itself unable to make the next move.

Where does the situation go from here? It is difficult to tell. One hopes that the peace holds. On their part, the central and state governments should also help the situation by restoring the mobile phones and internet. People in the Valley have largely protested peacefully. For two months, Kashmir has observed shutdown and the public transport has been off the roads. And by government’s own admission the situation has been normal. Home minister Amit Shah has said that not a single bullet has been fired, nor has anyone been killed. So, a favourable global and local situation should give the government confidence to end the communication clampdown in the state and release the detained leaders.


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