UNEASY CALM IN KASHMIR

Pakistan, obviously caught in a cleft stick after India made major
changes to the status of Kashmir, is hemming and hawing. Prima facie,
it does not know how to respond to the situation but cannot keep quiet
either. The bravado it demonstrated by asking the Indian High
Commissioner out and recalling its envoy from India stopped short
of a complete snapping of diplomatic relations. At the same time, it
managed to show to the world that it has responded adequately and
forcefully to register its protest over what India did in Kashmir.
Pakistan also snapped bilateral trade, which anyway does not amount to
much. Pakistan is also saying it would take up the matter with the UN,
something which it did in the past too but without achieving any substantial gains.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the army to remain
alert in the aftermath of the Indian action in Kashmir. All these do
not amount to much if the idea is to set a “wrong” into “right”.

What Pakistan could do in the past, and might be waiting for the
nearest opportunity to do again, is to whip up sentiments of the
Kashmiri Muslims in the Valley and infiltrate trained terrorists or
its own uniformed men camouflaged as terrorists to the Indian side of
Kashmir and unleash violence. PM Khan has warned India that more of
Pulwama could happen, and this could – he rightly understands – lead
to war. A war is what Pakistan can ill afford at this stage. Its
economy is in a shambles. Only someone caught with a suicidal tendency
can take such a step forward. Besides the Modi-Shah-Doval team in
Delhi will not just sit back and watch.

For India, Kashmir is a work in progress. Modi is past the first post
and so far so good. Friday is crucial, though. The Valley, caught in a
curfew since August 2 – a day before the major announcement from Delhi
about abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A—remains quiet. Or, an
uneasy calm prevails there. The first time people can come out into
the streets is August 9, when Friday prayers have to be attended to.
Security remains tight and yet some disturbance cannot be ruled out.
Despite all precautionary measures, things could turn bad at least for
a short while. The government has made it clear it would face
the situation head on. It’s time to see how things pan out in the
long-harried state.

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