India ís Unease On Kashmir Rhetoric

8 October 2009
The New Indian Express

Not Specified: Every problem or dispute with another country cannot be resolved through war. Diplomacy has been developed as a potent weapon that can soothe relations as dramatically as it can create pressure to protect the interests of a nation. China seems to have perfected the art, with India proving rather helpless in countering the lumbering giant in its vicinity. The latest pinprick that has drawn some blood is Beijingís decision to issue visas to Kashmiris on documents other than the Indian passport. In doing so China has sent out a clear message that it regards Kashmir as disputed territory and is not willing to recognise Kashmiris as Indians. This seems to be hard retaliation against the dilution of Indiaís position on Tibet, and its silence about the Dalai Lamaís visit to Arunachal Pradesh. It should be clear to the mandarins in New Delhi that diplomacy cannot depend on knee jerk responses, and that the seemingly compelling need to score brownie points cannot work in a nationís favour. China has clearly thought its position through, and now that it has moved on Kashmir it is highly unlikely that it will change its position. At least not without considerable give from New Delhi, that will at the very least mean silence on Arunachal Pradesh, no games on Tibet, and a declared commitment to the one-China policy that India has accepted. Otherwise India can expect the pressure on Kashmir to increase, and this the world knows is a vulnerable spot in the Indian governmentís not so very strong armour. The Organisation of Islamic Countries has also decided to appoint an envoy on Kashmir. It is unlikely that the envoy will be recognised by India or even allowed to visit Jammu and Kashmir, but it is yet another pinprick that will dent Indiaís international position on Kashmir. It is clear that international pressure on the resolution of Kashmir is going to build, and judging from China it is the East, and not just the West, that is going to take the lead. US President Barack Obama has been clear that Kashmir needs to be resolved. Pakistan has not given up the Kashmir refrain and now that China has come out in open support, it will be looking to the US to take up the issue. Diplomatically India has been taking a beating, and perhaps the moral of the story is to allow the professionals in the ministry of external affairs to do their job without constant interference from novices in the PMO.