September 2019 News

India Scrapping Special Status Of Kashmir 'corrects A Historic Wrong': Shringla

20 September 2019
LiveMint
Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: India scrapping a temporary provision in its constitution last month that gave special status to Kashmir 'corrects a historic wrong' and brings the hope of development to the region's residents and obstructs Pakistan's longstanding support to cross-border terrorism. This is the reason why Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan 'concocts alarming scenarios, hoping to stop these improvements,' said Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India's ambassador to the US, in an opinion piece published in the New York Times online edition on Wednesday. In the hard hitting piece seen as a rejoinder to an article penned by Khan and published in the New York Times on 30 August, Shringla said the Indian Parliament's decision on 5-6 August 'to reorganize the province and rescind this article (370) corrects a historic wrong. It opens the door to rejuvenate a moribund economy' and promotes horticulture, tourism and handicrafts that are the unique strength of Kashmir's culture. Kashmir is 'now in transition' and 'the changes introduced by India have challenged entrenched interests who benefited from the old system at a cost to the people,' he wrote. 'Incitement and support from across the border for violence and terrorism are to be expected. Many of the restrictions on travel and communications intended to ensure public order and safety have since been relaxed. Preventing loss of life is the highest priority,' Shringla said. These comments come as some sections of the international community have raised concerns over continued restrictions in Jammu & Kashmir, more than a month after Article 370 was revoked. 'Under Prime Minister Khan's watch, the people of Pakistan are reeling under economic depression, with inflation at a five-year high, national debt exceeding gross domestic product and an International Monetary Fund bailout for the 22ndtime,' Shringla said in his piece. Khan has, 'of course, every right to run his own economy into the ground. But his determination to inflict similar damage on the province of a neighboring country must be challenged by the international community,' Shringla wrote. Explaining the rationale behind the revocation of Article 370, Shringla said the provision allowed the Indian government only a limited say in administrative matters of Jammu and Kashmir - in the areas of defence, finance, foreign affairs and communications. On its part, Pakistan 'has a vested interest in preventing prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir, and in the Ladakh area of Kashmir, because a weak economy fuels separatist sentiments in some quarters. This fits into Pakistan's larger strategy of using terrorism as a political tool,' Shringla said. Article 370 prevented progressive legislations prevalent in the rest of India, such as affirmative action, equal rights for women, juvenile protection and safeguards against domestic violence from being implemented in Kashmir, because of its special status, Shringla argued. 'Laws that protect the right to education and information under the Indian Constitution did not apply in Jammu and Kashmir,' he pointed out. 'Clearly, this prospect for a more prosperous Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, cuts the ground under the feet of Pakistan. Its prime minister claims that he offered to work for peace, progress and prosperity with India. What he does not say is that the assembly line of terrorists that is a major industry of his country continues without pause.' Refuting Pakistan's charge that religious minorities in India were not safe, Shringla pointed out that when Pakistan was created in 1947, it had among its population 23 % minorities. 'This is now down to 3 %, a figure that speaks for itself. And there are countless faces - Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs - who can testify to this tragic reality. Fellow Muslims are not spared; ask the Shia the Pashtun, Sindhi or the Baloch people of Pakistan,' he said. India's actions regarding Article 370 have no implications outside of India, Shringla said, adding that India's external boundaries have not changed. 'Nor has the Line of Control with Pakistan been affected,' he said in what can be seen as a reassurance to the international community about India's intentions to keep the Line of Control peaceful. 'Development will happen, progress will be visible, prosperity will take root and terrorism will fail. And India will hope that Pakistan renounces hostility, violence and terrorism to become the normal neighbor that all of South Asia desires,' he added.

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