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

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .