India’s move to revoke Kashmir’s special status ‘illegal’

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Pilgrims with their luggage seen going to the railway station during restrictions on Aug. 5, 2019 in Jammu, India.

Nitin Kanotra | Hindustan Times | Getty Images

Pakistan said Monday that New Delhi’s move to revoke a special status granted to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir was illegal and in breach of international law.

The Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ajay Bisaria, was summoned by Islamabad’s ministry of foreign affairs. During that meeting, “the Foreign Secretary conveyed Pakistan’s unequivocal rejection of these illegal actions as they are in breach of international law and several UN Security Council resolutions,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

On Monday, Interior Minister Amit Shah told India’s parliament that the central government would scrap Article 370, a constitutional provision that allows Jammu and Kashmir to make its own laws and grants special rights and privileges to permanent residents of the state. The order was subsequently approved by the Indian president.

Jammu and Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority state and is part of the broader disputed Kashmir region.

Pakistan called for a joint session of its parliament on Tuesday while the country’s army chief summoned an important conference to discuss regional security, local media reported.

Analysts told CNBC that Monday’s move in New Delhi will likely intensify the animosity between the nuclear-powered rivals who’ve fought multiple wars over Kashmir.

International pressure

Pakistan will likely increase diplomatic pressure on India by turning to the international community, experts said.

“They will continue to raise this at multilateral forums, including the UN General Assembly, to bring diplomatic attention back to India’s actions,” Akhil Bery, South Asia analyst at risk consultancy Eurasia Group, told CNBC.

India deployed tens of thousands of troops across the Kashmir Valley in anticipation of a backlash. Authorities also banned public movements, shut down schools and colleges indefinitely and put two former chief ministers of the state under house arrest ahead of the announcement.

Moeed Yusuf, associate vice president of the Asia Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace, told CNBC that there will likely be “strong resistance” from locals inside India-controlled Kashmir.

“If that happens, Pakistan is surely going to up the diplomatic temperature to raise UN concerns about the human rights aspects of the Indian crackdown,” he said.

Bery added that many Kashmiris believe the special provisions are crucial to their identity and they have “long been weary of a strong influence from Delhi.”

Greater military activity along the border

Analysts said they expect greater military activity along the so-called Line of Control, which is the de facto border between the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir, and more unrest in the region.

Islamabad said Monday it would “exercise all possible options” to counter the move.

“It’s important to keep in mind that in Kashmir, there’s actually two levels — there’s a domestic level, which is between the central government and the state of (Jammu and) Kashmir. Then, there’s an international component between India and Pakistan,” Faisel Pervaiz, South Asia analyst at Stratfor, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box ” on Tuesday.

Both Pakistan and India lay claim to the region in full but control only parts of it.

Within the India-controlled region of Kashmir, an insurgency began in the late 1980s when some fought to join Pakistan and some fought for independence. India has accused Pakistan of backing separatists by arming and training them. Islamabad denies that and says it only offers political support to the Kashmiri people, according to Reuters.

International agencies have raised concerns over violence and human rights in India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, as well as in the Pakistan-controlled regions of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

“There is a long-running insurgency in Kashmir and the question is that is there going to be an uptick in attacks?” Pervaiz said. “Because as we saw back in February, when an uptick in attack happens, that can rapidly escalate tensions.”

In February, India and Pakistan carried out air strikes in each others’ territories after a terrorist attack in India-controlled Kashmir killed more than 40 security officers.

The US position

Pakistan has always called for international mediation to the Kashmir dispute while India maintains it is a bilateral issue.

Last month, in a state visit to Washington, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told U.S. President Donald Trump that Islamabad had tried its best to resolve the dispute over Kashmir with New Delhi. He said he hoped that Trump would push the process through.

Washington is thought to want Pakistan to play a bigger role to help the U.S. broker a settlement to end the conflict in Afghanistan.

As such, Trump is unlikely to be “able to ignore these developments completely for fear that Pakistan may not be as forthcoming in support of an Afghanistan peace process if he … openly sides with India on this,” Yusuf said.

The move “put the U.S. in a fairly difficult situation,” he added.

The U.S. State Department on Monday called for India and Pakistan to maintain peace and stability along the border.

Reuters and CNBC’s Spriha Srivastava contributed to this report.



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