Skip to main content

Need to unravel knotty Kashmir issue by 'accepting' American offer to mediate

By Saloni Kapur*
Before a recent meeting in Davos with Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, Donald Trump reiterated his offer to help mediate over the issue of Kashmir. It’s been six months since India revoked the special constitutional status for the disputed territory of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and put the state on lockdown. While internet restrictions have eased, connectivity remains patchy and prominent local politicians are still in detention.
Khan’s administration objected to the revocation on the grounds that Jammu and Kashmir is internationally recognised as a disputed territory. It argued that India’s unilateral decision contravened UN resolutions on the conflict, the Geneva Conventions, and India’s own constitution and supreme court. Pakistan also expressed concerns about ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Since then, the Indian government of prime minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly refused to accept mediation over Kashmir, something Khan says he is open to. The question of mediation is likely to come up at a forthcoming visit to India by Trump in late February.
My ongoing doctoral research suggests that mediation by the world’s great powers – such as the US, UK, Russia, China or Turkey – to resolve the festering conflict over Kashmir could pave the way for greater security cooperation in the Pakistan-India-Afghanistan triangle.
The disputes over the line of control that separates Indian- and Pakistani-administered Jammu and Kashmir, and the Durand Line separating Pakistan and Afghanistan, are remnants of the decolonisation process. These disputes have complicated security relations in South Asia and led to lingering instability, hindering regional cooperation and integration.
Since 1989, India has deployed between 600,000 and 700,000 soldiers to Jammu and Kashmir. Alleged human rights abuses on the part of the Indian security forces have included rape, torture, extrajudicial killings, custodial disappearances, and the violent suppression of protests – one of the fundamental rights of citizens in a democracy. 
These have been documented in reports by the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. In the summer of 2016, 17,000 demonstrators were injured in a brutal security crackdown. This has fuelled a further sense of marginalisation among local Kashmiris.

A shared history

I’m looking at the Kashmir issue from the perspective of the English school of international relations, a theoretical approach to international affairs that emphasises countries’ pursuit of shared interests and values through common institutions, human rights and diplomacy. This theory argues that the great powers have a special responsibility to maintain security and stability in the world.
In the Pakistan-India-Afghanistan triangle, despite deep-seated conflicts, all three countries have repeatedly turned to the institutions and norms of international society to seek to resolve disputes and defuse tensions. For example, Pakistan and India have repeatedly attempted to engage in a bilateral dialogue and to share intelligence on terrorism. Afghanistan’s inclusion in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is another example of this desire to use international institutions to defuse tensions. Such regional cooperation is a foundation upon which to build a more cooperative trilateral relationship – if the countries choose to do so.
Pakistan, India and Afghanistan have a shared history going back to the Mauryan Empire of the fourth century BC. Ethnic and religious identities spill over borders and the common cultural heritage is rich, spanning music, food, cinema, poetry, language and spirituality.
If India wants to be a great power in the emerging world order, it must achieve peaceful and stable neighbourhood. Accepting Trump’s offer would be a step in this direction
The security threats plaguing this region are shared too. Violent extremist groups are a concern not only for India, but for Afghanistan and Pakistan too. While India repeatedly blames Pakistan for attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India perpetrated by the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba militant groups, Pakistan believes that India supports the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has caused tremendous insecurity in Pakistan over the past two decades.
It also accuses India of supporting secessionism in the province of Balochistan, which threatens the economic corridor between China and Pakistan. Afghanistan has been destabilised by the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network and regularly blames Pakistan for backing them.
This cycle of allegations and counter-allegations hides the fact that these terrorist groups are non-state actors who work across borders. A comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy requires security and intelligence cooperation, alongside an approach that addresses the political, social, economic and psychological factors underlying terrorism.

Breaking the deadlock

A first step towards unravelling the knotty security dynamic in this region could be a positive response to the American offer to mediate on Kashmir. In the absence of bilateral headway in the peace process, third-party mediation is a reasonable way of attempting to break the deadlock. The successful settlement of the dispute over Kashmir could open the way to negotiations on the other core and interlinked issue of transnational terrorism.
The Pakistan-India, Pakistan-Afghanistan, and India-China territorial disputes are legacies of colonisation. The mistrust between Pakistan and India has hampered efforts to forge cooperation in the wider South Asian region, as shown by the cancellation of the 19th SAARC summit in 2016.
If India wants to be a great power in the emerging world order, it must first achieve a peaceful and stable neighbourhood. Accepting Trump’s offer would be a step in this direction.
--- 
*Assistant Professor, International Studies at FLAME University and PhD Candidate in International Relations, Lancaster University. This article was first published in The Conversation

Comments

Jag Jivan said…
The argument appears interesting. Will the concerned parties look into it, setting aside emotions?

TRENDING

Australia least prepared to fight Hindu 'extremism', admits diaspora NGO group

Tiranga rally in Sydney: Cause of stir among diaspora By Our Representative  The Australian Alliance Against Hate and Violence (AAAHAV) has said that Australia is “least prepared” to counter the allegedly “rising threat of Hindu far right extremism”. Calling upon politicians, federal and state governments to “urgently recognise the threat far-right Hindu extremism”, it asks “to take concrete steps to address this threat.”

Young environmentalist's arrest 'sinister', even parents not told of her whereabouts

By Our Representative  The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a civil society network, has said that it is “highly disturbing” that Disha Ravi, a young woman climate activist from Bengaluru was “picked up” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police. Disha, 21, has been remanded to police custody for five days after she was taken from Bengaluru to Delhi.

Mukesh Ambani's earnings during Covid 'can lift' 40% informal workers out of poverty

By Dr Gian Singh*  The Inequality Virus Report released by Oxfam, a non-profit organization, on January 25, 2021 on the growing inequalities in different parts of the world, sheds light on the growing economic, educational, healthcare and gender inequalities in India. The report has revealed that the wealth of billionaires has increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown period in the country.

US forensic revelation enough evidence to release Sudha Bharadwaj, others: Civicus

Counterview Desk  Civicus, a Johannesburg-based global alliance of civil society organisations and activists claiming to have presence in 175 countries with 9,000 members and working for strengthening citizen action, has sought immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

'Bird, take me flying with you too!' Being Devangana Kalita

By Ashley Tellis*  I first met Devangana Kalita in a first year English Honours classroom in which I entered to teach Charles Dickens’ Hard Times in Miranda House, Delhi University, in 2008. She was one of the smartest students in the class – Devangana smiled the most and had the brightest twinkle in her eyes of the girls in the class. A middle class girl – Kalita comes from a family in upper Assam, the Kalitas along with the Brahmins dominate Assam (the Bamon-Kolita nexus as it is called) – in an elite all women’s institution known for a feminist, rebellious history. Like all institutions, it was repressive; like all all-women institutions, particularly so. But Miranda House had met its match in Devangana. She organised, protested, all within the democratic tradition resisted. The seeds of Pinjra Tod, the group Devangana was to eventually co-found, and which now finds her jailed for as absurd a reason as inciting a ‘riot’ were already sown in that first year. By the third year, they

20% of FIRs against journalists in 2020 alone, targeted attacks in 2021 'too many to count'

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls “alarming rise in state repression and clampdown on news outlets and journalists” that “expose” the anti-people nature of the establishment, India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded “immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats.”

NAPM extends support to Indian, Aussie citizen groups 'opposing' Adani ventures

#StopAdani action in Australia  Counterview Desk  The civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), extending solidarity to the global campaign by the Youth Action to Stop Adani (YAStA), held in recently in Australia and India, has said that the effort was to bring more attention to the struggle aboriginal, indigenous peoples, farmers, working class and other oppressed communities against allegedly anti-people multinational corporate conglomerates.

Ahmedabad slum dwellers lathicharged: Demand for basic amenities for settlements

By Our Representative  Ahmedabad police allegedly used brute force to break up an assembly of migrant workers demanding decent housing. Hundreds of workers had gathered before the district collector’s office, Ahmedabad, to submit a memorandum to the district collector demanding that their settlement be enumerated as slums and basic services like light and drinking water be provided.