J&K – The issues around the state

[op-ed snap] The reality check


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Art 370 and its impact


The satisfaction about the abrogation of Art 370 in the rest of India stems from years of frustration at the failure of our efforts to establish durable peace in Kashmir and the perception that its special status was a mistake. 

What the future holds

  • Three principal arguments have figured in our national discourse: 
    • It has altered the terms of our engagement with Pakistan
    • better central control over a sensitive region 
    • ushering in an era of peace and development in J&K, whose progress was hampered by its special status

Lessons from the past

  • Pakistan’s questioning of J&K’s accession to India will not stop as the issue didn’t start with Art 370.
  • We took the issue of Pakistan aggression in J&K to the UN, but the power politics of the day turned it into one of the futures of the territory. 
  • In the Simla Agreement, we agreed to hold bilateral negotiations for “a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir”. We have not renounced this agreement. 
  • Since the late Eighties, when widespread terror and violence broke out in Kashmir, we have talked to Pakistan on this issue for various reasons:
    • International pressure
    • To manage the relationship and reduce violence 
    • The expectation that Pakistan could be moved in a positive direction through dialogue
  • The role of international pressure has diminished considerably. J&K’s special status figured nowhere in these considerations.


  • On the return of PoK, we reiterated in every round of dialogue with Pakistan the finality of J&K’s accession. 
  • The remaining issue for discussion is the vacation of its parts under Pakistan’s illegal occupation.
  • It is thought that our government’s move was aimed at forcing Pakistan’s hand to settle for the existing territorial status quo.
  • But it is negated by the chorus for the recovery of PoK being our next step. 
  • Its recovery militarily will pit us against China, besides Pakistan, because of its deep interest in the so-called Gilgit-Baltistan, with its entry to the CPEC.


  • The central government will have direct control over law and order in the Union Territory of J&K. 
  • J&K’s statehood and special status were never serious impediments to operations by security forces against internal turmoil or their deployment for the defence of our external boundaries. 
  • The instrumentality of the Governor’s/President’s rule was available, when necessary. 

Problems with the move on 370

  • A key asset in a sensitive region is the loyalty of the local populace. The scrapping of the special status will not make much difference to the life of people in the Valley. 
  • The abrupt move, break-up, and downgrading of the state will feed into the already prevailing sense of alienation and religious radicalisation, which Pakistan has been exploiting.
  • Peace as a prerequisite for the settlement of citizens from the rest of India in J&K and investment by them, faces serious challenges in the Valley and any turmoil there will not leave the Jammu region untouched. 
  • Influencing public opinion requires a massive effort to engage with the people, which has been missing in the last few years. 
  • Mainstream parties are marginalised and actively discredited by the government.
  • Pakistan’s security establishment finds Kashmir as a means to for its institutional interest of keeping a stranglehold on the country’s polity and has using terrorism to keep the Valley on the boil. These considerations had nothing to do with J&K’s special status and will not disappear with its withdrawal. 
  • Pakistan has opportunistically sought to exploit the Indian move to bring international focus on Kashmir. 

Way ahead

  • Addressing it requires a different set of measures.
  • Devote our energies to building not only immediate but durable peace in the Valley. 
  • This requires engagement with the people.
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