Speaking to the SCFR website, Pir Mohammad Molazehi stated: “Prime Minister Modi and the BJP party had pledged during the election campaign they would abolish Kashmir’s autonomy. So, in their view, now is the time to put the promise into practice.”
He said that two important goals are pursued behind this action: India in the Kashmir region has a long-term plan to disrupt the population mix between Muslims and Hindus and to pave the way for migration from other parts of India to Kashmir. Because, according to Article 53 of the Indian Constitution, which relates to autonomy, non-Kashmiris do not have the right to reside in Kashmir for the long term, and the decision-maker in this respect is the local government and the local parliament. People who come from outside of Kashmir have no right to buy land and property, and now that the law has been revoked, the way is open for people to come to Kashmir from elsewhere in India.
India has sent more than 100,000 troops with their families to the region, which, if we consider every family with three or four members, it has deployed 300 to 400 thousand Indians in the region providing them an opportunity to buy land and property and live there, the foreign policy analyst said. So, the ultimate goal of the central government is, in the long run, to disrupt the mix of population and convert Muslims into a minority that cannot influence the developments in that region.
He said that Prime Minister Modi is also interested in the upcoming elections in India, adding: “Given that he has fulfilled his election promise and the right-wing Indian forces are very much in favor of this move and want severe confrontation with separatism in Kashmir, he can win the votes of this part of the society. Although he may lose the Muslims’ vote we must consider that most of his social base is made up of Hindus or other non-Islamic religions. In this context, Prime Minister Modi also intends to create the conditions for the next elections to remain in power and defeat his rivals.
“Modi has made his calculation to attract the attention of the majority of Hindu religion followers, which are right-wingers. He satisfies Indian nationalism with this action, and this happens. That is, they will pay more attention to the BJP. It is a matter of two plus two equals four. He also has opponents but they are in the minority in terms of number and population. Modi has done his calculations and, in his view, believes they are correct. His main goal is what he promised his voters and supporters. So now he wants to please them and not others.
The Subcontinent affairs expert also spoke of the negative consequences of this decision and the threat to the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Hindus in India: “Of course, the consequences are negative and affect the Indian Muslim population, which is a large minority with a population of 70 to 80 million. Inside Kashmir, he will dissatisfy moderate groups who have sought to politically resolve the Kashmir crisis with the central government. When the local government is gone it will weaken pro-Indian moderates and give the initiative to religious radicals, some of whom have joined ISIS or al-Qaeda organization, and will open the way for the entry of ISIS and al-Qaeda to Kashmir. It will also severely damage India-Pakistan relations, The Pakistanis have reacted to this decision and clashes have occurred on the border. Pakistan expelled the Indian ambassador and has filed a complaint with the Security Council against New Delhi. All of these are negative consequences. I believe that the Indian government was aware of all these consequences and knew what was going to happen, but in its calculations, it measured the benefits and losses and concluded that this would be more beneficial to India’s sovereignty.
Saying that Muslims are not united in India and do not reside in one place but are scattered in different villages and towns, he said: “It is hard to imagine that Muslims in India would react in such a way as to make the Indian government revise its policies. However, there will be negative reactions including those in the media. Even Hindus who are not affiliated with the BJP have reacted negatively, but when we look at it all together, it seems that the government’s ability is too high to be affected by the opponents for a revision.”
Molazehi said the Indians have made their decisions, adding that New Delhi intends to annex two-thirds of Kashmir territory and is willing to bear its security implications. “They may even seek to claim Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to be annexed to India, as the Kashmir region is very strategic, situated in a mountainous and snowy area and the water of the great rivers of India originates from this area. Even rivers like Sindh and Punjab that flow to Pakistan originates from the same region.
One of the differences between India and Pakistan over the waters of this region is Kashmir and the rivers that flow from this region and then move to Pakistan said the expert. “This will even affect Bangladesh. The Indians are currently building large dams and have plans to store water and sell it to Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia. They have agreed to run a water pipeline across the seabed to Saudi Arabia to supply long-term water and on the other hand an oil and gas pipeline from Oman to Mumbai to supply Indian energy. There are huge and wide-ranging plans that, when we look at them as a whole, will ultimately be to the disadvantage of Muslims of the region. However, India feels it is now a great regional power and is seeking the world to recognize it as a great international power.”
He said that India’s economy is the fourth largest in the world, adding that Pakistan, India’s rival, is still poor and dependent on outside aid, and the Americans set numerous terms and conditions when giving Islamabad few hundred million dollars. But India itself has become so powerful and economic power. It is under these equations that the Indians decided to annex Kashmir.
“Pakistan does not have a lot of leverages,” Molazehi said of the steps Pakistan could take in response to the Indian move. “The matter can either be tackled politically or militarily. Through the military, because both the countries are nuclear states, there is a danger that a nuclear war might break out and both countries would be destroyed. So no wise leader would go for the military option. In the conventional war too, the Indian army is more powerful than the Pakistani army. Pakistan indeed has a strong army, but it is in a weaker position than the Indian army. So war would not provide a solution.
He continued: “The only leverage Pakistan has is political action and a return to the UN Security Council and a request to pursue the 1949 and 1951 resolution calling for a referendum in the region. But India will not give in as has been the case in the past 70 years unless it could be imagined the population mix would be so much upset to make sure a referendum would be in their favor.”
He concluded by saying: “All the resolutions refer to only two options in the referendum: One is to join Kashmir in India and the other to join Pakistan. While under the present conditions, independence is widespread in the region and many Kashmiris believe that joining India and Pakistan will not solve their problems and that both parts of Kashmir must be integrated and create an independent country for Muslims. This option has not been considered in Resolutions 1949 and 1951 too.