Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
What to study?
For Prelims: About Speakers’ summit and it’s significance, Overview of Male Declaration.
For Mains: Significance and implications of the Declaration, Why Kashmir issue must be Treated as internal matter of India?
Context: The fourth South Asian Speakers’ Summit was held recently in Maldives capital with the secretary general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and senior lawmakers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
This is the fourth event in a series of Speakers’ Summits for the region on SDGs, the previous three having been hosted by the Jatiya Sangsad of Bangladesh (in 2016), the Sansad of India (in 2017) and the Parliament of Sri Lanka (2018).
Outcome of the summit:
At the end of the summit, Male Declaration was adopted by the leaders.
About the Male Declaration:
The Declaration “unanimously” felt that Kashmir was an “internal matter” of India and overlooked all assertions made by Islamabad on the issue.
India has defended its decision to scrap provisions of Article 370 that have special status to Jammu and Kashmir, saying that it was an internal matter. India has also snubbed Pakistan for interfering in the internal matters of the country, saying that Pakistan was misleading the world.
Way ahead for India:
For India, there is now no “outstanding” issue of Kashmir except India’s claim on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which includes Gilgit-Baltistan. The need for a back-channel to find a solution to the Kashmir issue has disappeared.
India’s decision will also have effect on the Indus Waters Treaty and Pakistan’s strategy of creating obstacles for Indian power projects in Jammu and Kashmir permitted by the treaty.
UN might issue some statement advocating reduction of tensions and peaceful settlement of differences, etc., but a change in India’s domestic law on J&K’s status within the Indian Union is not an international matter as it does not endanger international peace and security.
More importantly, Article 370 does not figure in any UN resolution on Kashmir. It was inserted in the Indian Constitution in 1954 unilaterally by India, many years after the UN resolutions on J&K and, so, it can be unilaterally removed.
Options before Pakistan:
Pakistan has propagandist options, but no substantial ones.
It can try to foment resistance within the valley to India’s decision and step up terrorism in J&K.
This will be risky as support to jihadi activities in J&K will allow India to increase pressure on Pakistan in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), besides the danger of retaliation from India, which Pakistan can ill afford in view of its distressed economic situation.
Sources: the Hindu.