Source: Foreign Policy
When New Delhi announced this week that it would revoke Article 370, the constitutional provision that gave some autonomous powers to India-administered Kashmir, the declaration was unilateral. There were there no parliamentary consultations, and key Kashmiri politicians were placed under house arrest over the weekend to prevent them from reacting in public.
Why now? Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision should not be a surprise: Revoking Article 370, as well as another law that bars nonresidents from buying land in Jammu and Kashmir state, was part of Modi’s campaign manifesto. But why act this week? One theory, according to senior government sources cited by the Hindu, suggests that New Delhi brought forward its plans after U.S. President Donald Trump falsely claimed that Modi approached him to mediate India’s dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir.
There are other possible factors: The decision could have been timed for India’s Independence Day celebrations on Aug. 15, or it could have been designed to distract from growing concerns about the health of India’s economy.
Blackout. If there has been little news out of Kashmir, it’s because New Delhi planned it. On Aug. 4, internet and telephone landlines across the state were shut down. As FP’s C.K. Hickey reports, there is precedent: India has the highest number of internet shutdowns in the world—more than Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan combined. Regular Kashmiris face an immense impact on their lives and livelihoods.
What’s next? While several opposition parties support Modi’s decision, there may yet be a challenge from the country’s Supreme Court. And while the prime minister’s long-term plan could be to populate Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindus from other parts of the country, there will likely be resistance in the restive Kashmir Valley. India has already moved tens of thousands of new troops to the region.
FP’s Elias Groll interviews Irfan Nooruddin of Georgetown University, who explains that Hindu Kashmiris fled the state three decades ago—and they are key supporters of Modi’s decision.
Pakistan’s Trump card? In an address to Parliament on Tuesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he might approach the U.N. Security Council to oppose New Delhi’s move, fearing that India may “initiate ethnic cleansing in Kashmir to wipe out the local population.” He has already called in a favor that Trump promised him during their meeting in the White House last month: “President Trump offered to mediate on Kashmir. This is the time to do so,” Khan said. We’ll see whether Trump takes the bait—and whether Pakistan reacts in other ways.