There is heightened concern in the Kashmir valley, but also in Rawalpindi (headquarters of Pakistan Army) after India deployed an additional 25,000 soldiers in the Kashmir valley in addition to the 10,000 security forces.
Earlier, Delhi dispatched about 10,000 soldiers to the valley which the officials termed as a move to strengthen the counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir and maintaining overall security.
Rumours are spreading in the Kashmir Valley that India could be heading towards a complete abrogation of Article 35A. Some have even speculated that the matter could be a part of PM Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address at the Red Fort.
Article 35A of the Indian Constitution is an article that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents. It was added to the Constitution through a Presidential Order, i.e., The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954 – issued by the President of India on 14 May 1954, exercising the powers conferred by the clause of the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and with the concurrence of the Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The article has been challenged in constitutional courts. This is seen by some, especially in Pakistan, as a way of changing the demographics of Kashmir, which have so far been highly circumscribed to persons who can trace lineage to the region before the partition of 1947.
Any demographic change in Kashmir would not be accepted, said Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. According to media reports, the Minister said India was neither ready for bilateral talks nor for third party mediation. Qureshi said, “Kashmir is a disputed territory and any demographic changes in Kashmir will not be acceptable to Pakistan as well as Kashmiri people.”
According to experts talking to EurAsian Times, Islamabad is closely monitoring the Indian moves in Jammu and Kashmir. If India goes ahead to scrap Article 35A, massive turmoil is expected in Kashmir and Pakistan Army would be under tremendous pressure to respond to so-called Indian brutality in the region and save the innocent Kashmiri people. However, this Pakistan Army would be handicapped without their ‘covert’ assets – the militant groups who would be under intense scrutiny.