Get India and Pakistan to talk but first strip Pakistan of its nukes
Two “strategic” partners, India and the US, are calling each other a liar. Donald Trump recently said that India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, had asked him to meditate on the disputed Kashmir issue with Pakistan. India promptly denied that claim, effectively calling Trump a liar.
Now India says that it had briefed the US on the moves that it has just made in Kashmir, but the US denies that contention.
India has just changed the status of the Kashmir under its rule wherein people from outside the state can gain domicile there and buy land there.
Kashmir is pristine, and a lot of Indians from other parts of the country and the world would like to buy property there. There then is the question of a concomitant change in the demographics of Kashmir. There is a way out. Kashmir’s adjacent state is Himachal Pradesh, which is mostly Hindu and is a fully integrated state of the Indian Union. Yet, non-natives are not permitted to buy land there.
India has to balance the fears of Kashmiri Muslims with the needs of Kashmiri Hindus, who were driven out of home and hearth by Muslim terrorists when the Kashmir insurgency began in 1989. Kashmiri Hindus have become scattered all over the world but wait for the day when they will be able to return to Kashmir. Indian politicians since 1989 have mainly paid lip service to their cause.
Will India’s new moves allow Kashmiri Hindus to return? Unlikely, because Pakistan is going to ratchet up terrorism in India’s Kashmir and specifically target Kashmiri Hindus were they to return. Secondly, so much Kashmiri blood, both Muslim and Hindu, has been spilt since 1989, that there is bad blood between the two communities. It is unlikely then that the mainstream Kashmiri Muslim would want the Hindu to return.
Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, is threatening nuclear war over India’s recent moves in Kashmir. He got Trump on his side over mediation in Kashmir by promising a better result for America in the Afghan end game. But those in the know know that the Americans have always been mediating between India and Pakistan, albeit if only from behind the scenes.
Pakistan has always supported the Taliban, but the Taliban doesn’t always listen to it. Still, after the Americans leave, Pakistan will redirect jihadi forces from Afghanistan to “liberate” Kashmir. There are no ifs and buts about it. This is in Pakistan’s DNA. That’s why they have played a double game with America in Afghanistan for close to two decades. They are not going to give up just when they are reaching their crowning moment.
India will not let go of its Kashmir. That means war between India and Pakistan. But it is not that war that is more threatening to America than Pakistan’s nukes falling into jihadi hands. Pakistan’s military is infiltrated by jihadism. It has operationalized nukes in the hands of field commanders who can act independently of any more stable central authority.
America should try to seek peace between India and Pakistan. But more importantly, and more urgently, it must strip Pakistan of its nukes. A nuke, even a small one, falling into jihadi hands can prove more catastrophic for the West than any amount of war between India and Pakistan.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.