On August 5th, the Indian government announced its decision to revoke Article 370 from its constitution. Article 370 is a piece of legislation in the Indian constitution concerning the disputed territory of Kashmir, a Himalayan Valley famous for its beautiful landscapes and many tribes. When Pakistan and India were formed in 1947, the British had helped to draw borders between the two nations, however, they offered no help in determining which country the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir belonged to. Of the three wars the frequently conflicting countries have fought, two have been over those regions. Both countries have claimed the territory and both occupy the region as well, with Pakistan controlling about one-third (known as azad, or liberated Kashmir), and India controlling two-thirds.
Article 370 granted autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, albeit originally meant to be only temporary unless the original legislative body decided otherwise. However, last year the Indian government decided that upon the dissolving of the original body that created the law, Article 370 would remain permanent. Thus, the sudden revocation of the article by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has received much condemnation by Pakistani officials, and from some other nations as well. Experts have even disputed whether the move was legal or not.
Since 1947, civilians in the Muslim-majority, Indian controlled Kashmir have been protesting Indian rule, but the protests have almost always been violent and deadly, with Indian forces often using tear gas, pellets, and bullets while protesters have resorted to throwing stones. Recently, terrorist groups from the region have taken advantage of the chaos to carry out their own agenda, from the 2008 Mumbai attacks to the more recent Pulwama incident, and the Pakistani government has been accused more than once of supporting these groups. Commotions like these further complicate the matter.
So far, this event has failed to grab any real attention from the international community. While President Trump did discuss efforts to mediate the conflict in talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan recently, India seems to prefer a head on approach. Throughout history, Kashmir has been bought and sold, and its people discriminated against by its various rulers. The same seems to be playing out now and many believe the problem isn’t going anywhere soon.
The hashtags “I stand with Kashmir” and “Kashmir Bleeds” have become popular amongst many Pakistani activists, while many prominent Indians have chosen to side with the Indian government, believing that repealing Article 370 is the solution to the crisis. No matter what one may believe the solution is, both countries are nuclear-armed, making war a very scary prospect. Many have likened the situation to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but what is more important than classifying the emergency, undoubtedly, is ensuring the safety of Kashmir and its people, and employing democratic sensibilities in every approach.
By Amina Waheed