India revokes Kashmir's special status

India's Hindu-nationalist government has announced that it is revoking the special status of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It has also deployed thousands of additional troops to the Kashmir Valley and imposed curfews. Pakistan also lays claim to this predominantly Muslim region which is continually plagued by unrest. These latest developments are also observed with concern in Europe.

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Le Monde (FR) /

Beware of India's nationalists

Prime Minister Modi must be viewed with a good deal of scepticism, Le Monde warns:

“He sees himself as the defender of Hindu unity against a form of Islam that's increasingly perceived as a threat. Diluting Kashmir's identity - the only majority Muslim state in India - and having it melt in with the rest of the country reflects this programme. It is in its name that Modi's first term in office and before that his 14 years as head of the state of Gujarat had brutal consequences for the Muslim - and also for the Christian - minorities which have emerged from the confessional, ethnic and political admixtures that created today's India. The international community would do well to be wary of this Indian right-wing nationalism which is every bit as toxic as its Western equivalent.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Let the Kashmiris have a say

The Financial Times is unhappy that the Indian government won't let the local population have a say in its controversial reform plans:

“Opening up land to outside purchases is no sure-fire way to bring in money, however. There is a risk of an influx of new settlers, and with it the dispossession of locals. ...There is a threat of a demographic shift, which could leave Kashmiris as second-class citizens in their own state. ... If the Indian government truly wants to see a safe, stable and prosperous Kashmir, it needs to build trust with locals. That would mean giving Kashmiris a seat at the table for deciding their future. Local residents must be convinced that the changes will truly bring them benefits, not long-term damage.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Asia's struggle for its place in the world

The Kashmir crisis is the most recent example of the antagonisms that are rife in Asia, Jutarnji list writes:

“With this latest escalation of the ongoing Kashmir crisis between nuclear powers Pakistan and India, Southern Asia has once again shown that it is perceived as the key generator of global instability. ... How is that possible? Asia is trying to secure for itself the status it believes it deserves due to its population and ancient civilisation. Its economic clout is growing, particularly that of India and China. ... Resistance from Europe and above all North America is dismissed as neocolonialist bullying. But most of its energy is deployed in local conflicts: Asians primarily threaten other Asians. Europe was in such a phase for a long time. But thanks to the EU it has overcome such problems in the last 70 years.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Now India also has its strong man

Columnist Gianni Riotta observes in La Stampa:

“After his election victory in May Modi dictated a hard line for his party in Kashmir. He knows that the seven-percent growth rate won't be enough to keep those who are still living in poverty happy. His words on the developments in Kashmir conceal a risky populist project: that of inciting patriotic and religious minds against the Muslim Pakistan and centralising the power. Like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi has realised that the Pax Americana of the post-war period is dead. ... President Trump is preoccupied with his own internal agenda and Europe is too divided to offer an alternative. Modi now wants to also become a 'strong man' and has taken a first, resolute step in Kashmir that can no longer be reversed.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Delhi hasn't done itself any favours

This step is a victory of religious and party political ideology against political wisdom, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung comments:

“The annulment of autonomy will worsen the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir. And if someone doesn't stop the two nuclear powers on this sub-continent, the result could be another war between India and Pakistan. But even if it doesn't come to the ultimate escalation Delhi hasn't done itself any favours. The stubbornness of Modi and his government will cost human lives.”

The Times (GB) /

Time to take the fingers off the trigger

The Times explains who must do the de-escalating:

“The US can and should put pressure on both sides to stand down. So too can Britain because of its historical connection to both countries before independence in 1947. … Ultimately it is for the two neighbours to take their fingers off the trigger. Mr Khan should keep his vow to crack down on terror groups. Mr Modi needs to consider whether he wants to go down in history as a modernising peacemaker or as a leader willing to risk regional security for the dubious ambitions of his nationalist sympathisers.”