Kashmir : What Happens Next
The disputed region of Kashmir has been front page news around the world for decades. With Pakistan crying foul on a global platform every other day, the Indian state has been marred with controversy since Independence. In a dramatic u-turn of events, Beijing has dropped references to the role of the United Nations in resolving the Kashmir issue. The move comes ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India and Nepal which is expected to be officially announced on Wednesday.
Changing their tack, Beijing has now called for direct talks between New Delhi and Islamabad. Speaking in the presence of visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, “China’s position on the Kashmir issue is consistent and clear. We call upon India and Pakistan to enhance dialogue and consultation on issues including Kashmir and consolidate mutual trust. This is in line with the interests of both countries and common aspirations of the world.”
The statement which was a response to a press question, is a direct departure from the recent position adopted by China after India’s revocation of Article 370. Until now, it had backed Islamabad to internationalise the Kashmir issue at the UN.
Just last month, State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi had said, “The Kashmir issue, a dispute left from the past, should be peacefully and properly addressed in accordance with the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreement.” Meanwhile, Geng pointed out that China was moving ahead with its ties with both India and Pakistan on separate tracks.
Geng pointed out to last year’s Wuhan informal summit between President Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that “There has been good momentum in our bilateral relations and we have been advancing our cooperation and properly managing differences and sensitive issues.” He stressed the same spirit would be maintained as ties between New Delhi and Beijing enter their “next phase”.
Geng refrained from elaborating on General Bajwa’s Beijing visit, however, Pakistan media claims the Chief met Army General Han Weiguo of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and General Xu Qiliang, Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), at the PLA headquarters. General Bajwa reportedly informed Chinese military leadership about “consequences” of the ongoing situation in Kashmir.
Kashmir open to tourists from October 10
India is set to lift an advisory asking tourists and pilgrims to leave Jammu & Kashmir as it rolls back steps taken during a crackdown launched before the government scrapped the special status of the Muslim majority state two months ago. Thousands of Indian tourists, pilgrims and workers left the region in early August after authorities issued a security alert over possible militant attacks by Pakistan-backed groups.
Telephone and internet services were suspended and public movements restricted in some areas to prevent protests hours before India announced it had revoked the region’s special status.
Local Governor Satya Pal Malik announced the news late on Monday. Malik released a statement after a security meeting that these tourists would be welcome to return after Thursday, when the “Home Department’s advisory asking tourists to leave the valley be lifted.”
Malik claimed that authorities were gradually lifting the curfew, along with internet and telephone restrictions, stating “all the security restrictions were removed in most parts” of the region.