Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Doval Doctrine

With yet more saber-rattling in Pakistan in an attempt to neutralize the aftermath of the Ufa agreement between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, Kashmir is clearly back on the agenda, or at least the Pakistani agenda. If the mainstream media in India and their tribe of #AdarshLiberals were to be believed, this is a terrible thing. Actually, this is a good thing and reflects the thinking of NSA Ajit Doval, who has been managing Pakistan.

The strategy seems to be two-pronged: one, to sideline the separatists and only allow the elected representatives to represent Kashmir, as was the spirit of the Shimla agreement; and two, to isolate Pakistan internationally as an intransigent state run by its military, incapable of civilized behavior. Moreover, an even more subtle change is the talk of Kashmir as a whole being a part of India, thus putting AJK ad Gilgit-Baltistan back on the discussion board as Indian territory under Pakistani control.

This is certainly a high-stakes game that Doval is playing, but the rewards are great. If Modi can keep the Indian economy strong, the world is almost guaranteed to see Pakistan as nothing more than a nuclear-armed menace (as Donald Trump hinted recently), a factory of terrorists. With the vast market it offers, India will have much more leverage (foreign policy today is, after all, an extension of economic policy). By putting GB and AJK back on board, India would be able to highlight how Pakistan has failed to live up to its side of the UNSC resolutions that it continues to harp on about.

Clearly, Ajit Doval is playing a game much too great for the Indian media to fathom. Only time will tell whether it will pay off.

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