The Kashmir issue is expected to come up at the United Nations Security Council for the first time in several decades later today. The matter will be discussed in a closed-door meeting that has been called on the request of China, Pakistan’s all-weather ally. New Delhi’s position is that such matters as Pakistan’s occupation of a chunk of Kashmir’s territory are bilateral issues between India and Pakistan, with no scope for third-party intervention. That much of the world has not fallen for Islamabad’s efforts to internationalize India’s revocation of the state’s special status suggests that the risk of an adverse response from the Security Council is low. Yet, Indian policymakers need to ratchet up diplomatic efforts to ensure that the world is not misguided on the matter.

Restrictions on civilians in Kashmir are set now to be lifted in stages, and New Delhi needs to stay alert, should tensions flare up once these are eased. Pakistan would probably try to instigate protests, and intemperate remarks by its leader Imran Khan have already signalled a meddlesome approach. Violence in the region could hurt Indian interests. The armed forces in Kashmir will have to stave off any possible terror attack; a burning Kashmir, after all, would only help Pakistan draw global attention to it.

It is paramount that peace in the region is maintained. In the meanwhile, New Delhi needs to calibrate its diplomatic strategy closely to respond in real-time to any potential questioning of its actions. The first message that India needs to send out is that the scrapping of provisions under Article 370 has not changed anything as far as the world’s political map is concerned: the international boundaries remain the same. New Delhi’s plans for the development of Jammu and Kashmir, as also Ladakh, could be conveyed as well. Facts need to be foregrounded and false rhetoric from across the border debunked. At this juncture, India’s voice in New York needs utmost clarity.

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