The decision of the Modi government to scrap Article 370 is mainly a domestic, internal decision of India, with several implications for how Jammu and Kashmir is governed and administered. The question that pops into many people’s minds is does this decision have any external, international or foreign policy related dimensions?

First, we should fully expect Pakistan to protest this move. It is indeed strange that, where Kashmir is concerned, Pakistan is a non-status quo nation which has ceaselessly attempted to change the ground situation in Kashmir, but when India makes its own domestic moves as it did yesterday, Pakistan is the loudest to voice its opinion against change. It will, doubtlessly, accelerate its efforts to further internationalize the issue, arguing, as it has done recently, that there is great danger to regional peace and stability due to India-Pakistan differences on this subject.

Will Pakistan receive any support from the international community? Even as some people in India label the scrapping of Article 370 as the murder of democracy, we can be sure that there will be a pushback from select members of the comity of nations on the subject of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir. There will be criticism of curfew in Kashmir as well as the preventive detention of certain individuals. Actors such as the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights may become active again.

The rest of the world cannot say much on the subject of doing away with Article 370 itself, as that is entirely a domestic matter and decision for India and its government to take. What can be highlighted is that there are elements in India which do not agree with the move. However, the massive recent mandate that was given by the people of India to the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government will bolster the legitimacy of the decision.

What we will need to be careful about is that there are any number of international players who have been itching to mediate. US President Donald Trump is only the latest in a longish list. China has in recent times been attempting to play mediator between India and Pakistan, also indicating that they are the big boys in this region. Readers may be unaware that the current Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres has also, on numerous occasions in private, offered to help out on this matter, despite being told on all these occasions that the subject will be handled bilaterally. Pakistan will definitely step up its efforts to get any or all of these personalities to play a role and we shall have to very clearly convey our abhorrence to this as was done recently by external affairs minister S. Jaishankar. India can withstand such pressure and our people need to understand this very clearly.

Conversely, we need to step up our game and push Pakistan on the back foot on the terrorism front. Whether at the UN or in bodies such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) we shall have to tighten the screws on Pakistan. The recent successes of the Indian Army in foiling infiltration attempts will have to be played up internationally.

One aspect of the changes being made in J&K, particularly in making it a Union territory, is that both law and order within the territory as well as the defence of India will be in Delhi’s hands, thereby making this a seamless activity and perhaps more effective. Hopefully, the level of cross-border infiltration and terrorism will come down as a result.

Therefore, while the scrapping of Article 370 is mainly a domestic issue for India, we should expect some fallout in the international sphere for which there can be little doubt that our government has already prepared itself, including its diplomacy.

Gautam Bambawale is a former Indian ambassador to Bhutan, Pakistan and China. He is currently distinguished professor, Symbiosis International University, Pune.

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