Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday introduced a measure to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The decision triggered Pakistan's dissatisfaction and has added much uncertainty to regional conditions. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to fight India's Kashmir move.
Modi has been using India-Pakistan conflicts to consolidate the BJP's ruling status and win the Indian people's hearts. Modi and his BJP have been hyping nationalism in the country. During the 2019 India general elections, the BJP had already pledged to scrap Kashmir's special status. Today, about three months after Modi's overwhelming victory in May, it seems that the BJP is rushing to fulfill its promise. Nationalism is again successfully whipped up in India.
However, Modi's unilateral declaration will trigger more conflicts in the region. The escalating tensions in Kashmir will bring severe challenges to India's security as well. Before scrapping the special status, India cut off Kashmir's internet and telephone networks and imposed a curfew. Now the region is in lockdown. If the situation keeps escalating and finally goes to the extreme, the result may be beyond Modi's control.
More importantly, the Indian government's Kashmir move triggered China's dissatisfaction as well, because the region also includes the western part of the China-India border. India should not undermine China's territorial sovereignty by wantonly changing its laws.
China will not choose sides or interfere in the India-Pakistan disputes, but this does not mean that China will let India harm its national interests. India's move has sabotaged the hard-fought and developing relationship between China and India. "Such practice is unacceptable and will not come into force," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Tuesday. China will always defend its sovereignty, instead of letting India declare whatever it wants.
Territorial and historical disputes should be resolved through peaceful negotiations. Many countries have offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the decades-old Kashmir conflict. However, India has always refused third-party mediation. Now it has made a unilateral and sudden change in the status quo, which will only trigger greater opposition.
Instead of acting unilaterally and hyping nationalism, India should find a mechanism to break the deadlock. In other words, India should reduce, not increase, tensions in Kashmir. India should rethink its strategy and stop complicating Kashmir's situation. Acting against the global tide of peace and stability will benefit no one.
The most important thing for India is to resolve the issue through negotiations with Pakistan. India has the right to refuse third-party mediation, but needs to find a way to resolve the conflict peacefully. The India-Pakistan conflict has lasted more than seven decades. Should it last for another one to two centuries?
No matter who the Indian prime minister is, as long as he can end the conflict and restore peace in the region, he will leave an important chapter in world history.
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