For someone who sought to compare the reception he got on his return from the US to winning the cricket World Cup a few weeks ago, the recent changes in Kashmir came like a bolt from the blue. Just like how the US failed to read Indian preparations for the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998, Pakistan’s deep state couldn’t put its finger on what PM Narendra Modi intended to do while amassing troops in Kashmir. Last Sunday, a statement issued after Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) meeting indicated its unease, as it complained about activity on its eastern border at a time when its attention was focused on resolving the Afghan tangle. A day later Modi withdrew special status to Jammu and Kashmir, bifurcating the state into J&K and Ladakh and converting both into Union Territories.
For Pakistan PM Imran Khan, the euphoria of the US visit where a bumbling President Donald Trump offered to mediate on Kashmir, annoying India, evaporated. For, this was the first time in decades that India was proactively rewriting the rules of the game instead of being reactive to Pakistani deep state’s mischief each time. Another NSC meeting followed, which decided to downgrade diplomatic ties, suspend bilateral trade and make a diplomatic push globally, including going to the UN. But soon, Pakistan found it could not whip up pressure even from the Islamic bloc. Countries like Saudi Arabia, too, were cool; and the UAE called it India’s internal issue.
The US has gone silent on mediation. China alone made some noise on Ladakh where it is in occupation of Indian territory. Pakistan is learning that a bankrupt nation does not have any leverage. Its only hope to draw attention is to trigger an armed conflict and push terrorists en masse into India. If it does so, it will be called out by the FATF, which monitors global terror financing. And if it moves troops from the Afghanistan border to the Indian one, Uncle Sam would be extremely annoyed. Imran has been outfoxed when Pakistan is at its weakest.