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Modi’s U-turn on IoK

Indian Prime Minister Modi will hold an all-parties meeting with Kashmiri political leaders in New Delhi where the revocation of the autonomous status of the region and fresh elections are on the cards. The meeting is certainly a walk back ever since the BJP announced their unilateral decision to bifurcate the territory.

It is evident that Modi’s plans to revoke Kashmir’s autonomy has failed, the communication blockade is still intact and human rights violation continue unabated. The decision stifled dissent and India is being exposed by China on multilateral forums. Kashmiri leaders, who have been invited to the meeting have confirmed participation and will urge him to restore statehood and the special status.

The Modi government’s troubles in Kashmir were exacerbated by the pandemic, declining economy, and Chinese ingress on the border region. It was also under pressure from the new Biden administration and eventually agreed to back-channel talks with Pakistan. But Prime Minister Imran refused to restore bilateral relations until India revokes the steps taken on Kashmir and creates a conducive environment.

India is also concerned about the changing dynamics in the region once US forces exit Afghanistan. Thus, the meeting is also being seen in the geo-political context. Since 2019, India brought the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which has been placed on the backburner and no rules have been framed, while the Ram Temple at the site of Ayodhya mosque is also mired in corruption allegations.

The Modi regime has now taken an about-turn on Kashmir, adding to its long list of failures in the past two years. The meeting with Kashmiri leaders is a desperate attempt to restore normalcy in occupied Kashmir. This was imminent as India can’t hold the blockade any longer. If it holds elections in the region, it risks defeat just like the embarrassment it faced in West Bengal.

Pakistan is concerned about the restoration of Kashmir’s special status. Foreign Minister Qureshi has issued an open challenge to Modi to hold a referendum on the revocation of Kashmir’s status. Peace can only be achieved in South Asia if the longstanding dispute is solved. Prime Minister Imran Khan has even stated that there will no need for a nuclear deterrence if Kashmir is resolved.

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