J&K Statehood and 370 Article: Analysis

Headline : The state has its reasons Editorial 7th Aug’19 IndianExpress

Details :

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Status of J&K stuck in ambiguity:

  • For over seven decades, the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been masked in ambiguity and deceit.
  • Successive governments of both India and Pakistan had tried but failed to arrive at an amicable “final solution” because of the play of vested interests on both sides.

Two potential routes to a resolution:

  • The resolution attempts over time shaped two potential routes to a resolution.
  • One may be termed the “hard” option and the other the “soft” option.


Pakistan tried the hard option of war first:

  • Pakistan tried the hard option of occupying the territory as early as in 1947 when it sent troops into the erstwhile kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir and grabbed territory.
  • It tried the hard option a second time but failed, in 1998 when it crossed the Line of Control (LoC) at Kargil.

Then it was ready for soft option:

  • It was only after these attempts at a military soluti on on the part of Pakistan failed that the two countries began considering the “soft” options.


Soft option of LoC as IB pursued: 

  • Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took the first step in defining a final “soft” solution when he was open to the idea that the LoC could be defined as the “international border” (IB).
  • Later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pursued that option through dialogue with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, conducted largely through a back channel.
  • The Manmohan-Musharraf formula:
    • It was based on the premise that terrorism and cross-border attacks would cease, and the LoC would become the IB.
    • In Kashmir, it would be a soft border that would enable Kashmiris on both sides to travel to and fro.
    • It advocated free trade across the border, and “self-governance for internal management in all areas on the same basis on both sides of the LoC”.
    • Once such a benign environment was established, both sides would reduce to the bare minimum the presence of their respective militaries on their side of the border.

The soft option did not work out:

  • All those ideas did not progress.
  • Musharraf in Pakistan and then Singh in India lost the already little support to pursue this “soft” solution.
  • The Mumbai terror attack in November 2008 and other events ultimately increased pressure for the burial of the soft solution.
  • Pakistan’s military and hardline political leadership went against the soft solution.
  • In India, the changed government also rejected the Manmohan-Musharraf formula.

End of pursuit of soft solution:

  • Since 2014, there have been no takers for the soft solution both in India and Pakistan.
  • On the contrary, attitudes began to harden on both sides.
  • No credible political leader in Pakistan or India seems interested any longer in pursuing the now abandoned soft solution.


India’s pursuit of hard solution – End of Article 370:

  • India tried all options to resolve the Kashmir issue but nothing yielded a convincing result.
  • Having exhausted soft options, a hard solution has been opted for.
  • The Indian leadership was convinced that change needs to be brought in Kashmir and this was an opportune moment.
  • The result was the end of Art 370 in Kashmir and the change of its position to that of a Union Territory.


Despite criticism, securing borders as important as the minds of the people:

  • Critics of the government’s action have said it was motivated by a desire to secure land rather than its inhabitants.
  • Every state has to be as mindful of its territory as of its inhabitants.
  • More wars have been fought between nations over land than only over the interests of its peoples.
  • Even Abraham Lincoln did not wage a civil war only to define the rights of US citizens but to also define the territorial limits of the US state.
  • A state that cannot define its borders and protect them has no reason to survive.
  • Significantly, most political parties have backed the government’s action. They are not necessarily defending the government but are defending the interests of the Indian state.


  • India has tried both soft and hard solutions to define its borders.
  • The only remaining unresolved issues are with Pakistan and China.
  • With China, a negotiated settlement is still possible since its leadership has demonstrated greater maturity in dealing with India.
  • Pakistan too could have secured a peaceful resolution by ceasing to make India more anxious about its security.
  • In choosing not to do so, Pakistan forced India into a hard solution.


GS Paper II: International Relations

Section : Editorial Analysis