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LIFE AFTER 370 – ARINDAM MUKHERJEE

As far as the immediate hangover of India’s decision about J&K is concerned – internationally, and to the ‘very concerned’ parties like BBC (yea yea, BIG stakeholder in world peace) or Pakistan – there is nothing concrete other than ‘The fear of human right abuse’.  Sure, that has taken an interesting turn or two at places. Imran for example, has assumed that New Delhi would be ‘making slaves out of minorities’ in J&K, after pushing for a demographic change. Would he manage to get this kind of a propaganda gather momentum? Or get caught with his pants down, yet again (there was something somewhere about rubbing mustard seeds)? 

I am not surprised. Garbage-in-garbage-out logic sums up Imran’s sum-total of experience. Pakistan’s treatment of its minorities can challenge the Virginia Slave Codes of the 1700s on any given day. Christians, Hindus etc are made to clean drains, work as sweepers and other sanitation workers. Newspapers carry open ads inviting minorities to apply for sewage cleaning jobs. The Hindu girls are regularly abducted and forced to marry old men with hena-dyed beard. And on days that they are sexually aroused, mobs here and there light bombs and throw them at the Ahamadiyas and the Shias. And by the way, they changed the demographics of POK quite some time ago.

[BBC’s rant reminds me of that occasion when they showcased a massive celebratory rally of people waving flags ‘in Libya’. When someone grabbed their balls, they squeaked oh sorry sorry that was an Indian rally and Indian flags; not Libyan. Not very credible guys there as well either.]

Geopolitically, things are a little complex. A fair volume of the issue flows back to Afghanistan. You see, the Taliban is this close to regaining control of Afghanistan officially. The talks and negotiations are nearly over, and a concrete decision would be arrived at, by this month-end or next. Once that is done, the Talib tertiaries might be asked to move across newer areas to do what they do best (Recall the mujahideens at the end of the Afghan War? Like that). There is some amount of tension about this. Russia, for example, always wanted a chair at the negotiation table because of the same. The country borders a number of Central Asian and Caucasian states – those that have a chance of getting influenced by such disruptions. So, they have been courting Pindi through this and that. Ditto for Iran. China – with Pakistan in their pocket – has gone a step ahead and is on a quarantine spree; judging by their modified labour camps along the restive province that we keep hearing about.

In a nutshell, as Afghanistan moves towards ‘stabilization’, the regional players are quickly getting their own walls up and insulated through different means. What if New Delhi – with limited option in terms of its relationship with Pakistan – has done just the same thing through its recent move in J&K?

Then comes the interesting speculation about Pakistan’s ‘geostrategic depth’. It is almost a given that Pindi is the prospective de facto government in Afghanistan for the time being. Well, there would be issues. Number one would be Uncle. To think that Uncle would move out completely is incredible. And even if that happens, then number two would be the Talib themselves. Once they had an army; now they are gonna have a country (remember Jeremy Irons in Die Hard with a Vengeance?). Bona fide cash. No begging to Pindi for money. What happens then is anybody’s guess. [I am hoping we would hear a lot about this in the days to come.]

Notwithstanding these two challenges, this edge finally promises to lend Pindi that fabled gain of depth along their west. And under such a situation, snipping a little ‘depth’ off their eastern side staying within the legal boundaries, is a move of the checkmate variety. (After all we still are on the Eurasian Chessboard, aren’t we?)

Legally, there is little Pakistan can do. Taking it to the UN might be a ‘moral victory’ for them; won’t change shit and they know that. Pindi cemented that window shut when they donated real estate in GB to China, when they got Mujahideens and sundry terror outfits to settle in POK or allowed China to build CPEC corridor. Plebiscite etc… dead and gone. Long ago. The people who matter know that. Those that scream and shout don’t matter.

And overlooking Imran promising another Pulwama or Pirzada advising KMs to kill Hindus, because this is nothing new that India hasn’t lived through already, my queries are

  1. Pakistan is sure to have guessed that if there was this theoretical possibility – this scrapping of 370, then someone’d sure try it out sooner or later. And in a comparative scale, if one verdict like this could overturn decades of hard work (that they’ve been putting through terror attacks), then Operation Tupac wasn’t worth its value compared to this signature/verdict/vote/whatever, that could scrap Article 370. Did Pindi not think of other alternatives to counter this eventuality?
  2. Post this checkmate, if tomorrow or the day after, the Taliban decides that they are gonna court the Kings and Princes of the Gulf surpassing their traditional pimp now that THEY ARE GOVERNMENT themselves, then what happens to the geostrategic depth?

 

The one factor that’s important here is China. China was initially concerned only with the fate of Ladakh. And there was logic there. Now, Ladakh as a UT would legally include Aksai Chin. Till about a few weeks ago the general understanding was eventually Akshai Chin becomes China and AP stays with India. That is suddenly looking a little obscured. And thus, their concerns were well founded one could say. But then, Beijing’s press release changed tone and became concerned with J&K as well. This was immediately after Quresi visited China. At the other end, the noises grow in HK. Serious allegations are being hurled across the Pacific. Uncle has recently shown a lot of interest in Mongolia and Bhutan. HK too. Perhaps Beijing realized (after their first series of press releases) that India alone doesn’t have it to go all the way and there must be some Uncle-prod somewhere? And that it would be best to keep their slave across the Karakoram in good humour; after all, Afghanistan isn’t still completely sorted out to Uncle’s happiness.

China is trapped in a deadlock with my Uncle, and there is close to zero wriggle space for the both. If… and that is a big IF, Uncle is involved in HK, then this is bound to concretize Sino-Russ partnership all the more. Apparently, Russia too is undergoing some Uncle orchestrated domestic turmoil. So while Moscow has opened its Kashmir  innings with a favourable view of new Delhi’s move, Jaishankar or Amit Shah sucking up too much to Uncle might have a disbalancing effect there in the later stages.

To conclude thus? While assuming that Kashmir is isolated in the game is a mistake, this here is one in a million move which, handled properly promises to be up there slightly below 1971. Getting Pakistan to the table to talk, and assuaging the international media manufactured fear about demographics top the list. The world largely accepts India’s stance that this is a bilateral issue; what New Delhi needs to do now is follow-through this displaying the same brilliance.

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