The history of the world is stocked with examples of great powers who once believed in some mythical manifest destiny, who once believe stringently that conquering of the world is within their reach. Inexorably, in the pursuance of this hardcore belief, they amounted too much power and prestige which eventually lead to their abysmal downfall. The pages of world history remind us of the seismic failures of these great powers, who in their intoxication of power, charted a path of irreversible grand mistakes.
The grand mistake made by Prime Minister Modi in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) to project a manifest destiny of Hindu Rashtra is the beginning of the series of mistakes which likely will lead to the dilution of modern India.
What happened on the 5th of August in South Asia is one such grand mistake by an emerging great power. What happened on the 5th of August is no less than a tectonic continental shift whose repercussions will inevitably reverberate across the region and the globe. The grand mistake made by Prime Minister Modi in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) to project a manifest destiny of Hindu Rashtra is the beginning of the series of mistakes which likely will lead to the dilution of modern India.
Modi-led BJP cast the first stone and with palpable contempt to the Constitution of India abrogated the constitutional provisions of Article 370 and 35-A which granted special status and rights to the people of Indian-held Kashmir. By striking with an iron fist, India had initially seized the initiative on time. Denunciations by Pakistani political leadership had been an epic disappointment as reflections of policy disorientation were quite visible. But now India had forfeited its initiative to control time with curfew, which has been stretched far too long and mass discontent is simmering under the shadow of Indian machine with horrific stories coming out of the valley. Pakistan also quite ingeniously developed its arsenal of discourse pertaining to projection of Kashmir as a humanitarian crisis rather a religious one and warns of intense bloodbath.
Prior to abrogation of the constitutional clauses, India had deployed massive troops in IHK along with the imposition of the curfew, suspending communications and normalcy of life. By practicing these draconian measures, India had narrowed its policy options for the future course of action in the valley contrary to the exuberant discourse in Indian media celebrating the triumph of India over separatism.
The valley now represents world’s most brutal and militarized open-air prison with the potential of sliding toward political and cultural genocide of the Kashmiris as with the axing of those constitutional clauses, India takes Kashmir back to the situation of 1947-1948, the period of the brief war with Pakistan. As it stands, by suspending the only thread of legalizing Indian rule in IHK, India has effectively constituted itself as an occupying force in the valley. Since the execution of the paradigm-shifting political act, India is continually miscalculating three matters of vital importance: alienation of indigenous pro-Indian Kashmiri leadership, the specter of armed resistance to the occupation and the role of Pakistan.
By detaining the pro-Indian Kashmiri leadership represented by the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the onset of this crisis, India has essentially burned its only political bridge toward Kashmir. Leaders representing these pro-Indian Kashmiri parties now recognize their founding leaderships’ fatal mistake in trusting India. They vowed a strong resistance whenever they are released from detention. Integrating this love lost of former pro-Indian Kashmiri politicians with the pro-independence Hurriyat Conference, India will experience a prospective united indigenous political force. For any independence movement, a united indigenous political force is decisive for the attainment of freedom and right of self-determination. Whenever curfew is lifted, the leaderships’ of various indigenous political forces in all likelihood will present a united political front and challenge the occupation forces of the Indian state within India and across the globe, a prospect which is likely to gain traction particularly in western capitals.
Concurrently, the resistance to the Indian forces in occupied Kashmir had never ceased. And as India buried the only thread of legitimacy of its rule in IHK, the spirit of the resistance undergoes metamorphosis. This time factors informing the armed resistance would be distinct from the past. The absence of fear of death in the spirits of Kashmiris and elimination of pro-Indian voices, a united indigenous political force as a support system to the armed resistance, and eschatological framing of the independence struggle.Coalescing these factors into a collective struggle for self-determination likely to give birth to a potent struggle which for the Indian state will be intractable to suppress through structural violence and organized state terror. Particular importance is to be given to the eschatological dimension of any potential armed resistance.
Since the execution of the paradigm-shifting political act, India is continually miscalculating three matters of vital importance: alienation of indigenous pro-Indian Kashmiri leadership, the specter of armed resistance to the occupation and the role of Pakistan.
Regardless of the authenticity of the source, the idea of the conquering of India is momentously appealing to the morale of any would-be resistance. It serves to present any struggle in a cosmic realm; a fight between Good and Evil. Thus, we can clearly gauge the level of stimulus this dimension would provide to the people who are since long-enduring systemic terror and tyranny.
Eventually, the role of Pakistan would be essential in not only internationalizing the issue but also supporting this organizing principle of indigenous struggle lead by Kashmiris. Lessons should be learned from Gibraltar and Kargil. Without an indigenous struggle, any application of hard power through covert or overt means is bound for failure. The current diplomatic approach should be continued by Pakistan.
By consistently underscoring the rising specter of fascism in India bonded with a likelihood of a nuclear faceoff in South Asia, this narrative should run its course. However, the window of opportunity is closing fast. Pakistan should also aggressively pursue the demand of uplifting the curfew as well. Meanwhile, aside from coordinating with Hurriyat leaders, Pakistan also needs a strategic ingress in all other political parties of the IHK including NC and PDP. Confronted with the betrayal of India, there is space which Pakistan can fill and offer its unfaltering support. Furthermore, before the time for hard power application dawns upon Pakistan, it needs to stabilize its internal political environment. Political security of the state will ensure maximum dividends when hard power will be applied.
This probable patchwork of pivotal factors for the independence of Kashmir from the Indian occupation will, to the least, checkmate Modi’s tryst with destiny and, to the maximum, lead to the eventual settlement of the Kashmir question.
Hassan Zaheer is a postgraduate in Sociology from the University of Karachi with specialization in Sociology of Religion and Politics. He is currently working as a Non-Resident Research Associate with the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research (CSCR), Islamabad, where he works on the intersection of ideas, strategy, religion, and politics, and their influence on state and society. His areas of interests are social contract, history of ideas, authoritarianism, political economy, international relations and strategic studies with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Eastern and Western Europe and Asia.