5 August 2019 will go down in India’s history as one of the most talked about dates. Reason is all the more obvious as what was previously thought to be an empty election plank for being too impossible to implement was achieved with lightning speed and kept everyone guessing till the very end. The portents were there as many people all around pointed out like cancellation of the Amarnath Yatra, the troop build up in J and K but, at most the guesses were going up to some action on the front of art 35A and nobody had eventually put 370 in the dock.

But, Govt of India came out with a plan that stumped everyone and received support from a lot of political adversaries as well.  So far so good. It would now be interesting to see how things go from here on. The pros and cons of the move are debatable and are too well known in various media houses to be discussed here. I am not writing this article about discussing the history of Art 370 and how people all around India have welcomed the move. I have been tracking events all around and have few interesting dots that I would present before you to connect and then, may be understand why India has carried out this move and more importantly why now?

Clues are around: I will take you guys down the memory lane. No, we are not revisiting Nehru Abdullah pact, Indira Abdullah understanding or instrument of accession. I am just taking you a year back.

1)In May 2018 Pakistan had issued an order to integrate Gilgit Baltistan into Pakistan’s federal set up which vehemently opposed by legal heir of the region that is India. But, to little avail. The status quo was disturbed by Pakistan right from October 1947 and this order in 2018 further put to rest all show of maintaining status quo as already there was little or no democracy to show in PoK.

2) The most important aspect that might have got overlooked in the light of all political jubilation is the change in global scenario in the past 2,3 months particularly the American stand on Kashmir. On 22 july 2019 Imran and Trump had one on one meet in Washington where all the wishful proponents of Indo American strategic love got a jolt right from their supreme commander when Trump came out with a live statement of looking to mediate on the Kashmir issue.  The Indian diplomats got their act together and told Pompeo that India was at most looking to talk to Pakistan subject to conditions, But , American prez gave call to mediate almost two more times in a span of less than 2 weeks.

3)The situation on afghan frontier is all the more worrying. India has made massive investments for rebuilding tangible assets in Afghanistan for the welfare of people of Afghanistan. But, with the worsening security situation in Afghanistan and America’s change of stand while bringing Pakistan back as a major player in afghan political future conundrum just to secure a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan throws more questions than answers. This is not only dishonorable on the part of a major superpower but also belies the sacrifice of thousands of American and Afghan soldiers for giving people democracy and a hope of redemption after years of hell like Taliban rule in Afghanistan. This also puts India into a very tight spot where all the talks of  how the USA wants India to emerge as a major power has withered in thin air and one is left wondering what future beholds for friendly people of Afghanistan. Our business with Iran too has suffered and we have lost a reliable and strong oil supplier due to threats of sanctions. Not only that, this might hit our plans to reach central Asia through chahbar and Afghanistan . Overall, the point to be understood is that there appears to be a broad understanding in White house’s strategic calculations on strengthening Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan just to secure a safe exit while leaving India high and dry.  This requires strong Pakistani support in talks with the Taliban undermining democracy in Afghanistan and more importantly the civil rights of women and afghan citizens. How it is to be secured? Well, there are no free lunches it seems. Something is traded to get the other.

Now, if we carefully analyze the sequence of events we can notice the apparent change of heart in Washington vis a vis Pakistan , it’s bid to internationalize Kashmir and Trump’s repeated assertions have directly coincided with surge in cross border confrontation between India and Pakistan. India has perhaps sensed this tacit understanding between two old pals and acted in broader national interests. Imran visits America 22 july 2019 , Trump calls for mediation on Kashmir , confrontation on border increases, threats to the Yatra detected, offer of mediation repeated,BAT team intercepted and killed , all presented recipe for probably more sinister plans from our hostile neighbor with strong foreign backing. This might explain the haste with which India not only dispatched additional troops to the valley, strengthened border vigil, shut down communication and carried a major initiative whose significance is no less than ops blue star. This, if I understand correctly, was prompted strongly by these international behind the scene games.

The response further strengthens my assertion as Pakistani premier has resorted to nuclear saber rattling as if India has legislated on Pakistani Punjab. Unconfirmed reports have also suggested that Pakistan is planning to move significant number of troops to IB and LoC from Af-pak frontier. Pakistani general has gain reminded us that they would use all means to check India. India, on it’s part has done quite well and delivered a telling answer to calls for mediation. But, well begun is just half done. Real work starts now. The greater good lies in bringing jobs and tangible change of fortunes in Kashmir and Ladakh so that the people of the new UTs gain the most. In my opinion the scale of Ops sadbhavna needs to be broadened and winning hearts of people will go a long way in breaking the back of terrorism in Kashmir.

The most pressing reform must be in education so that the real history of Kashmir is taught to the kids and we counter the negative wahabi onslaught on the sufi fabric of Kashmir with legacy of great heroes like Zainul Abidin are presented and reinforced. This is crucial as radicalisation has been the bane of the state. The land of Baba Barfani and Hazratbal needs urgent attention if it’s youth are to have a bright future.

To conclude, I must state that India will have to look for real friends in international arena, the ones who have stood with India and reinforced India’s foreign policy rather that vacillating  opportunistic investors ,as business and foreign affairs might not essentially mean one and the same thing. The current turmoil in US Iran relations, US policy in Afghanistan  and the apathy to  our core interests , historical imperatives and learnings should serve as grim reminders that romanticism may not be good enough to change old bad habits and alignments. India, without a single word from her PM has delivered a telling answer on calls of mediation , thwarted a probably sinister  enemy plot to use foreign backing and pak military backed terrorist assault to encircle India and put new life in re asserting India’s strong posture.

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