Troops deployed, curfew instated . . .
The situation in the Kashmir region appears to be deteriorating rapidly after a presidential decree by the Indian government on Monday revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution. This article had given the Indian-controlled State of Jammu and Kashmir, located in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, a significant degree of autonomy regarding its right to its own constitution and to implement its own laws. Surrounding this decision, India reportedly deployed 35,000 troops in the state while initiating a curfew, suspending internet and phone access, and clamping down on journalists reporting from within the state. India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tried to justify the revocation of Article 370 as an economic and security decision. Many in the Muslim-majority state, however, see it as a move to spread ever-rising Hindu nationalism in Jammu and Kashmir as Indians from outside the state can now buy land within, a practice previously restricted to residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan responds . . .
Pakistan, which controls part of the Kashmir region, announced on Wednesday that it is suspending all trade with India and expelling India’s High Commissioner. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also announced Pakistan would challenge India’s revocation of Article 370 at the UN Security Council, and the Pakistani Foreign Ministry raised the issue with the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Saudi Arabia. Reports indicate that protests have taken place in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and in Islamabad, and that the Pakistani army chief has said the military will “go to any extent” to support Kashmir.
Silence in the West . . .
Despite the very real potential for the Kashmir situation to escalate to dangerous levels, the news has barely registered in the mainstream media in the U.S. and Canada. Likewise, Global Affairs Canada has not issued a statement, nor has it updated its travel advisory for India and Pakistan. Rising tensions between the two South Asian powers are deeply concerning as the nuclear-armed rivals have previously engaged in wars over the region – in 1947, 1965, and 1999. Smaller border skirmishes between the two countries since the 1947 partition of India have been common and have heightened tensions in the region in recent times.