By Arun Joshi
There are tireless noises in the country that Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir is as much integral part of India as is the part of the Himalayan territory on this side of the Line of Control, but Indian leaders and media are silent about the July 25 Assembly elections across the borderline. Perhaps the idea that any talk of the elections in PoJK would dilute the Indian charge that the territory in question is in illegal occupation of Pakistan, but that’s a bad strategy. The motives behind the campaign underway there are having potential dangers for J&K and the rest of the country.
The Indian media that is so obsessive about Pakistan and plays up all the statements of leaders claiming that “ India would get PoJK back”, is ignoring the elections there because of its inability to see the larger picture emerging out of these elections.
The campaign is having its anti-India orientation. There are newer calls for taking up the J&K issue at the international level and provocative speeches are being made by leaders of all parties calling the August 5, 2019, decisions of scrapping of the special status of J&K and its split into two union territories. These speeches are being echoed in J&K where, leaders like Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah have also raised the pitch on the restoration of the special status and statehood.
Earlier, there used to be convergence on the points that Kashmir solution should be searched for through dialogue. Now there is a convergence on the reversal of August 5, 2019 steps that the Government of India had taken to remove all the barriers between J&K and the rest of the country.
Pakistani leaders are also taking of making PoJK as province of their country. Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz vice president leader Maryam Nawaz has insinuated that Pakistan’s ruling party – Pakistan Tehreek -Insaaf is trying to make PoJK as a province of Pakistan,. .That means that the opposition leader, who has drawn large crowds to her rallies in PoJK has some idea as to what Pakistan’s establishment is up to.
This cannot be dismissed as nothing. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has already promised that Gilgit-Baltistan would be made a province of Pakistan. Gilgit-Baltistan is also part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir that acceded to India in October 1947. Gradually, the Pakistani establishment has strengthened its stranglehold over the territory and virtually handed it over to China as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor ( CPEC) which also is a part of Beijing‘s ambitious Belt Road Initiative ( BRI). And it is also true that much of the highway that connects China to Gwadar, the port city of Balochistan, passes through PoJK. Therefore, it can be safely assumed that what Pakistan is doing in Gilgit-Baltistan, it can repeat it in this territory lying across the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Since PoJK has a tradition of having the ruling party at the Centre ruling from Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistan occupied territory, therefore the outcome is known: PTI will sweep the polls. The party is the closest to the army that calls shots in Pakistan and its occupied territories. That will raise a serious situation for J&K and the rest of the country, it should be understood without any inhibitions.
Pakistan has deep strategic interests in PoJK – it is in this territory where it had set up terrorist training camps, which are still operating there. In 1989-90, Kashmiri youth were lured to PoJK. It was easy for the Kashmiri youth to cross the LoC and enter PoJK, and the situation has not changed. Groups of youth are still attempting to go across the LoC. In the 1989-and early nineties, Pakistan used the audio-visual images to indoctrinate the youth to pick up guns. Now it is using social media and the theme of August 5 “ injustice” to Kashmir to motivate them. Hie the propaganda material is broadcast from mainland Pakistan, the physical terrain being used is PoJK. This, in short, is a deadly combination.
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com