Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent admission that his diplomatic howl against India’s reorganisation of Kashmir was going nowhere, as global capitals were more concerned about trade ties with prosperous Delhi, should prod him to revisit his Valley strategy. Except for China and a few Islamic nations like Malaysia, all others have accepted India’s position on Kashmir being an internal matter. The latest rebuff he got was at the UN Security Council where China’s fresh attempt to discuss Kashmir on behalf of its client state was overwhelmingly rejected. China’s ruse this time was the threat of war in the region, citing new Indian Army Chief Manoj Naravane’s statement that he would be prepared to wrest PoK if the decision had Parliament’s stamp of approval.
While the revoking of Article 35A and the hollowing out of Article 370 that gave special status to J&K were mostly ideological for the BJP government, it had global dynamics in mind while strategising to contain the fallout. For, the US-Taliban peace accord was around the corner and Pakistan was salivating at the possibility of power play in Afghanistan. Had the US clinched the peace deal when it came up for signing a few months ago, Pakistan might have started reducing jihadi infiltration on its eastern border while paying lip service to Kashmir, and directing the mercenaries to Afghanistan, where it has more scope for geostrategic gaming as it was doing before 9/11.
The delay in the US deal is one reason why the Centre is yet to restore full normalcy in J&K, as it wants to avoid a spike in violence thereafter. Which is why the forthcoming eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in India later this year, for which Imran will get an invite as Pakistan is a member, could offer both sides their first real chance at a bilateral rapprochement. But for that to happen, Imran has to stop personal attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which could itself create some room for dialogue. Modi and Imran have not been on talking terms for long; the ice can be broken if both try to think out of the box.