New Indian agenda on held Kashmir
It is beyond a shadow of doubt that Pakistan will not accept the Modi government's agenda to end the special status of Kashmir and integration of the state into the Indian Union. As it is, Kashmir remains an international dispute and not a bilateral dispute as being advocated by the Indian government. India has always avoided internationalising the issue because of its very weak case on the disputed valley that goes with rather poor powers of comprehension and deduction.
The Indian government is also making attempts to change the demography of the valley by bringing in non-Muslim retired army men. This is being carried out in violation of laws that prohibit naturalisation of non-indigenous settlers.
The legal protection to the Indian troops in the guise of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) continues. This brutal law has allowed the Indian forces to deal with the Kashmiris as they please with little fear of prosecution.
It is apparent from recent developments that India is not serious in holding bilateral talks with Pakistan on Kashmir. They cancelled the recent talks by limiting the agenda and continued with their aggressive stance on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary. The US has expressed concerns over the cancellation of talks and an increase in Indo-Pak tensions. However, the US has to abandon its stance of neutrality on the issue and force India to come to the table and sort out the issue as per the UN resolutions.
It seems that on the whole the Indian approach to the Kashmir issue, which was to ride out the storm, has gone a drastic change. The Modi government is all out to make Kashmir an Indian province by ending its special status by presenting a parallel version of truth. It wants to make the people of the valley and Pakistan, which is a party to the dispute, irrelevant in the process. However, Pakistani diplomats and officials will continue to engage with the Hurriyat leaders, who represent the real sentiments and aspirations of Kashmiris.
Significantly, Pakistan should counter the Indian moves to seize the held Kashmir by developing a long-term strategic plan. Islamabad should continue moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmiris for their just right to self-determination. Also, it should try to internationalise the issue. We cannot abandon our principled stand that the Kashmir dispute has to be discussed and resolved under the terms of UN resolutions. Summing up the problem, the Kashmir issue is back in the headlines once again despite harsh Indian counter insurgency tactics. Four wars on the issue and India still refusing to resolve it is a skewed idea which could soon backfire.