India’s actions within the country and in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJ&K) continue to escalate tensions in the South Asian security landscape. One might think that these actions may have been a miscalculation that sparked widespread protests in India, however, all evidence points to the fact that it is just another step in a decades-long scheme of incitement. The lineage of Hindu nationalism – that has for some time remained hidden behind the slogans of secularism – pre-dates 1947 and today Hindu majoritarianism is on the rise on an unprecedented scale. The proponents of Hindu nationalism believe that even the so-called Indian secularism is a fraudulent imposition perpetrated by the ruling elite at the time of independence and the precarious balancing of religious minorities living in India obscures India’s true Hindu identity. Furthermore, BJPs actions are driven more by politics than strategic calculations considering the Pulwama attack took place only a month prior to India’s impending national elections of April-May 2019. In the Eurasia Group’s annual forecast – published on January 6, 2020 – of political risks that are most likely to play out over the course of the year, risk 5 reads “India gets Modi-fied.” It hints at the recent developments and deteriorating situation in India that is likely to have broader repercussions throughout South Asia and beyond.
After the re-election of Modi and BJP in 2019, he blatantly attacked Kashmir, abolishing the constitutionally guaranteed semi-autonomous status of IOJ&K. In order to assert their position as a muscular, majoritarian state there couldn’t be a target better than Kashmir, the world’s most militarized Muslim majority state where the unarmed citizens have been fighting for their freedom from the Indian occupation for more than seven decades.
In the Nazi terminology, Gleichschaltung is the process by which the Nazis established a system of totalitarian control over all aspects of German society, from economy and trade associations to media, culture and education. Similarly, the position of BJP and its Hindutva ideology at the helm of affairs allows them to use the capacity of the state to further their goals as is evident from their recent actions. In the states ruled by BJP such as Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat, the state governments have rewritten history books to downplay Islamic contributions in the Indian history. They have also devoted their energies to rename cities that refer to their Islamic heritage. Furthermore, greatly diverging from an ostensible egalitarian society, the new laws: National Registry of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) that are discriminatory in nature and have sparked widespread protests all over the country, will aid the ruling party in its agenda to build a Hindu state.
To distract attention from the protests in India against the two new citizenship laws, India is likely to escalate tensions along the Line of Control (LOC). During an interview with the International Media Council on the sidelines of WEF in Davos, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that he fears that India might attempt to raise tensions at the border in order to divert attention from domestic protests against two government measures that have been criticized as anti-Muslim. In a letter to the President of UN Security Council, Pakistan has highlighted India’s designs that constitute a threat to the peace and stability of South Asia and emphasized on the 3,000 ceasefire violations by India, partial removal of the fence on LOC by India in five sectors, deployment of Brahmos Missile, anti-tank guided missiles and Spike missiles, and conduct of numerous missile tests since August 2019. Pakistan has further pointed out Indian leadership’s bellicose rhetoric, issuance of new ‘political maps’, unprecedented ceasefire violations targeting unarmed innocent civilians along LOC, and attempts to change the demographic structure of IOJ&K.
Kashmir, the paradise endowed with mesmerizing beauty, is now burning and is tainted by the blood of hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris who have lost their lives at the hands of Indian security forces. The state of affairs in the paradise is terrifying where a score of men, women, children and the elderly have been injured, maimed or killed and lives of generations of Kashmiris have been wasted or ruined. These events are alarming and the world must wake up to the dangers that Hindutva is posing to the region and in the common interest, act to ensure the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris who have been imprisoned in their own state.
India may try to brutally suppress the voice of Kashmiris but it can’t silence them and it can’t stop Pakistan from supporting the Kashmir cause. As COAS, General Qamar Javed Bajwa said, “Our quest for peace must never be misconstrued as weakness. There will never be a compromise on Kashmir whatever the cost. We are capable and fully prepared to thwart any misadventure/aggression for the defense of our motherland.”
It is needless to reiterate that Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint. The Indian Army Chief has indulged in provocative statements and posturing that can further escalate the situation along the LOC to divert attention from the domestic issues. However, Pakistan is fully prepared to befittingly respond to any such misadventure or aggression.
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