New Delhi has been rewriting its policy on India-controlled Kashmir, but it seems to forget that economic support is urgently needed to safeguard regional stability.
India has been following the doctrine of no first use of nuclear weapons but Defense Minister Rajnath Singh hinted on Friday that the doctrine may be open to change. Following India's threat, Pakistan said on Saturday that its army was "fully prepared" to face any challenge posed by India, according to Indian news agency PTI. Tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals have escalated over Kashmir, which is one of the poorest and most volatile regions in Asia.
Indian officials cited security concerns when the government changed the special status of India-controlled Kashmir and scrapped the Muslim-majority state's autonomy. It's understandable that Indian officials highlight security concerns but New Delhi focuses too much on security and military measures to resolve Kashmir-related issues. Relying solely on military and security tactics will change the status quo in Kashmir and escalate tensions in the disputed region.
There are big defects in India's policy toward Kashmir, which doesn't include economic support. Coercive policies are doomed to fail if they focus only on military and security controls but neglect the economy.
The most important aspect of policy in Kashmir should be to bring development opportunities to local society, especially Muslim communities, instead of squeezing them out of the mainstream social stratum. If India is unable to offer economic opportunities for Muslim groups and improve their sense of economic inclusion, New Delhi cannot really solve the problems related to Kashmir.
Reuters reported earlier this month that Indian authorities had imposed a communications blackout on Kashmir. New Delhi's moves on Kashmir won't bring economic benefits to Muslim communities but will instead have disastrous consequences for the region's economy. India is moving in the wrong direction.
Economic and political measures are always two sides of the same coin when it comes to solving social problems, so neither can be neglected. If India offers no economic solution but simply poses a military threat, the Indian government will face resistance from the Muslim community in Kashmir. The situation may continue to deteriorate, but hopefully the two nuclear-armed rivals can remain calm amid escalating tensions.