A year on from the repeal of Article 370, India, Pakistan relations have gone steadily downhill. And with every new move that New Delhi takes to further integrate Kashmir into the country, the ties between the neighbours are worsening further. On the first anniversary of the withdrawal of Article 370 on August 5, Pakistan issued a new Kashmir map that shows the Indian side of J&K and Ladakh as part of Pakistan. The map is not new except that what was earlier presented as disputed territory is now described as ‘illegally occupied by India. Similarly, Pakistan has urged the US to help improve the India, Pakistan ties. This, in effect, is a call for the US mediation in Kashmir, something the Washington has been loathe to do unless both countries ask for it. India’s position has invariably been against the third party involvement as it regards Kashmir as a bilateral issue with Pakistan. So, Pakistan’s call for the US or any other country’s mediation means little in practice.
This leaves India, Pakistan to sort their messy relationship themselves. They will need to pick up the thread where they have left it. But it won’t be as easy. The withdrawal of Article 370 in August last has further wiped out the space for an engagement between the neighbours. Things have since become complicated geopolitically too. China’s incursions in Ladakh have made the communist power as yet another party to the issue. And the alleged China-Pakistan collusion in the region has erected what some observers in Kashmir think ‘a great wall of China’ around India on its northern and western side. Also the cooperation among China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia is giving all indications of emergence of a geopolitical block. And if all goes well Afghanistan under Taliban could also be part of this block. Also, India has already withdrawn from China’s Border and Road Initiative. New Delhi, on the contrary, has aligned itself with the US and the west.
These shifting alignments are putting in place a new geopolitical order. This order, however, in no way will help resolve the issues of the subcontinent particularly those between India and Pakistan. That is, if the two countries themselves don’t show a willingness to address these. And this needs to be done before the two countries get sucked into the emerging new cold war. This calls for steps for re-engagement between them, that is informed by a deep realisation that the only way to peace in the region is through India-Pakistan reconciliation.
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