After around two months of a public face-off between India and Pakistan over the revocation of Article 370 which granted Kashmir its autonomous status within Indian Union, the neighbours are experiencing a phase of lull in the bitterness of their exchanges. However, this quiet period is unlikely to last. India and Pakistan relations look only set to get worse before they get any better. Islamabad is likely to engage in actions which help maintain the international spotlight on the troubled situation in Kashmir. New Delhi, on the other hand, wants to retain the focus on terrorism in the region which it argues emanates from Pakistan. It expects that a sustained diplomatic pressure on Pakistan would get it to crackdown on the militant groups which fight in Kashmir and sometimes target other parts of the mainland India.
Pakistan, on the other hand, hasn’t achieved much of a success in galvanising international intervention in Kashmir. And Islamabad won’t be happy with this state of affairs. India, on the other hand, does not approve of any third-party involvement in Kashmir and since Simla agreement has considered Kashmir a bilateral issue with Pakistan. But the two countries despite the intermittent negotiations have failed to make any headway on Kashmir, nor does the future scenario look promising enough for the talks to yield any positive outcome. Meanwhile, Kashmir has continued to bleed, poisoning Indo-Pak relations and impacting their geo-political outlook, particularly with respect to each other.
Pakistan also expected US war in Afghanistan would somehow enable Kashmir resolution. But this too hasn’t happened. Now, at the fag end of drawn US military engagements in Middle East and Afghanistan, during which US successively invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, altering the world in the process, Kashmir continues to be stuck and its nature as one of the world’s oldest issues remains unchanged.
Reflecting back upon the US involvement in Afghanistan, one can’t help but feel a certain sadness for Kashmir. For the war in Afghanistan and the consequent importance of the Kashmir’s resolution to the peace and stability in the region was expected to lead to a concerted effort by India and Pakistan to settle the issue. But nothing of the sort happened. Now, when US is planning to exit Afghanistan following an anticopated deal with Taliban, one can’t help feeling that a simultaneous progress on Kashmir would have certainly made a more redeeming difference to the peace in the region by promoting friendship between India and Pakistan. It would have addressed the primary source of their bitterness and estrangement, persuading them to cooperate in addressing the urgent issue of poverty of a large section of their respective populations than be at loggerheads with each other. And such a scenario would have certainly rendered the militant groups redundant by depriving them of their raison detre: the jihad to liberate Kashmir.
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