Chal­lenges reemerge in the in­ter­na­tional arena

Governance Now - - JAMMU AND KASHMIR - David De­vadas

Ever since it ac­ceded to In­dia, the state of Jammu and Kash­mir has posed an ex­traor­di­nary set of si­mul­ta­ne­ous chal­lenges. These have in­volved law and or­der, pol­i­tics (both ‘se­ces­sion­ist’ and ‘main­stream’), in­ter-re­gional is­sues (not only Jammu ver­sus Kash­mir but also Leh ver­sus Kargil), mil­i­tary, and diplo­matic. This year may be less chal­leng­ing than 1948, but it is hold­ing out a more multi-pronged set of chal­lenges than most years since then.

Last fort­night, a re­port from the UN high com­mis­sioner for hu­man rights on the sit­u­a­tion in Kash­mir added an­other di­men­sion to this year’s var­ie­gated chal­lenges. Even as the Gov­er­nor and his team tackle the huge in­ter­nal prob­lems, di­plo­mats should gird them­selves too. The is­sue could come up at the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly, not only from Pak­istan but also pos­si­bly from coun­tries such as Turkey and Iran. The supreme lead­ers of each of those coun­tries pub­licly raised the Kash­mir is­sue in May and June re­spec­tively last year. Pres­i­dent Er­do­gan even did so in a TV in­ter­view on the eve of a visit to In­dia.

China’s lever­age

The key fac­tor will be the ex­tent to which China uses such op­por­tu­ni­ties to stir anti-in­dia in­ter­ven­tions. China’s loans to a host of coun­tries across the globe now give it un­par­al­leled lever­age. Among the coun­tries in which China has un­der­taken debt-laden projects is Jor­dan, the home coun­try of the UN high com­mis­sioner who last month put out the re­port crit­i­cis­ing the hu­man rights record in Kash­mir.

The re­gion of Jammu and Kash­mir in which China is most keenly in­ter­ested is the vast Gil­git area, through which the Karako­ram high­way passes. It pro­vides vi­tal con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween China and Pak­istan, and is the pivot of the China-pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor. China de­scribes CPEC as the ‘flag­ship project’ of pres­i­dent Xi’s sig­na­ture Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, through which China in­tends to gain dom­i­nance in world trade and strate­gic re­la­tions.

Over sev­eral decades of sharp chal­lenges, the finest de­fence of In­dia’s po­si­tion was mounted in 1994, when Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee led In­dia’s del­e­ga­tion at the UN Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights, with Dr Fa­rooq Ab­dul­lah as his deputy. It would be tough to put to­gether such a stel­lar team now, but it might just be the or­der of the day.

The UN head­quar­ters in Geneva

Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee

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