Claude Arpi unmasks geopolitical deceit of Pakistan’s Kashmir charade

When the Pakistani politicians, some ‘useful idiots’ in the Indian Press, the Indian liberals, and the usual left-leaning ‘Aman ki Asha’ brigade criticised the decision of India’s Supreme Court upholding the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, they are not only misinformed but are taking a malicious stand against the interest of the country and its national security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

| Updated: 05 January, 2024 5:56 pm IST

Gilgit-Baltistan is a region that India considers as part of undivided Jammu and Kashmir, but is currently administered by Pakistan. The region has been a source of dispute between India and Pakistan since 1947 when Pakistan occupied it with the help of British officers who rebelled against the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. India has always maintained that Gilgit-Baltistan is an integral part of its territory and has opposed any attempts by Pakistan to change its status or demography.

Recently, Pakistan has announced its intention to grant provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan, which would give it more autonomy and representation in the federal government. This move has been strongly condemned by India, which sees it as a violation of its sovereignty and an attempt to legitimize Pakistan’s illegal occupation of the region. India has also expressed its concern over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a mega infrastructure project that passes through Gilgit-Baltistan and is seen as a strategic threat by India. India has urged Pakistan and China to respect its territorial integrity and refrain from any actions that could escalate the situation in the region.

Claude Arpi is a French-born author, journalist, and Tibetologist residing in Auroville, India. Renowned for his expertise in India-Tibet relations and the Sino-Indian border dispute, he has authored numerous books and articles on Tibet, China, and Indo-French relations. As the director of the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture in Auroville, inaugurated by the 14th Dalai Lama, Arpi is actively involved in promoting Tibetan culture. He holds the Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa Chair of Excellence from the United Service Institution of India, recognizing his outstanding research contributions to India-Tibet relations. Arpi also manages a website where he shares historical documents and offers insights on various topics.

In The Asian Age, Claude wrote an article, ‘Why Pak politicians need to study Kashmir history?’. In the article he mentions, a “top secret” note from the early 1950s by Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, secretary-general of India’s Ministry of External Affairs which provides a historical timeline, including the invasion by tribesmen in 1947, the ruler’s accession to India, and Lord Mountbatten’s conditions for a plebiscite. Claude chides the Pakistani politicians, including Jalil Abbas Jilani who often refer to UN Security Council resolutions regarding Kashmir without proper understanding. These resolutions, once read, properly understood and comprehended, make it clear that “Pakistan cannot claim sovereignty in respect of J&K.

So when the Pakistani politicians, some ‘useful idiots’ in the Indian Press, the Indian liberals, and the usual left-leaning ‘Aman ki Asha’ brigade criticised the decision of India’s Supreme Court upholding the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, they are not only misinformed but are taking a malicious stand against the interest of the country and its national security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Claude demolishes the Pakistani politicians criticising the decision, claiming it had “no legal value” by bringing up the case of Maj. Brown and Gilgit.

Major Brown, a British officer, illegally handed over Gilgit to Pakistan in 1947 despite Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India. Claude’s article suggests that senior British generals were likely aware of this. Now the British Parliament’s resolution in 2017 has confirmed Gilgit-Baltistan as part of Jammu and Kashmir, making Pakistan’s control illegal. The British Parliament resolution asserts that Gilgit-Baltistan is legally and constitutionally part of Jammu and Kashmir, occupied by Pakistan since 1947. This challenges the legality of the 1963 agreement between Pakistan and China regarding the Shaksgam Valley.

Claude blames the Indian government for the confusion prevailing in some sections of the Indian media. The external affairs ministry should have taken the initiative to provide the media with a thorough and detailed briefing on the historical background and various aspects of the issue at hand. By doing so, the ministry could have helped the media gain a better understanding of the complexities and nuances of the issue, enabling them to report on it more accurately and comprehensively.

Of course, the Pakistani politicians are not going to listen to a Tibetologist, living in India for the past four decades. The ISI, the Pakistani Army, the Pakistani civil society, and their politicians have always eyed Kashmir for its resources and the emotional sentiment of the ‘ummah’; while using it as a stick to beat India for its secularism, or its rising Hindu nationalism or its cultural resurgence. The existence of Pakistan has been to prove the failed Two-nation theory correct, and the military generals along with the clerics in power radicalised their entire population, who never bothered to learn the accurate history of Islam, the Palestinian cause let alone the Kashmir region with its linguistically and ethnically diverse identities, brought under one rule by General Zoravar and Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Imagine UN resolutions as a set of rules in a game. If you don’t follow these rules, you can’t claim certain privileges. In this case, Pakistan can’t claim sovereignty over Jammu and Kashmir based on these resolutions. Think of Major Brown’s actions as a controversial decision in a board game. Even though the Maharaja (leader) joined a team (India), one player (Brown) decided to change allegiance, causing a dispute that still has consequences today. Picture the British Parliament resolution as a referee’s decision after reviewing a game. The referee (British Parliament) confirms that a specific territory (Gilgit-Baltistan) belongs to a particular team (Jammu and Kashmir, India) and was unfairly occupied by another team (Pakistan).

In the grand theatre of geopolitical chess, the pawns may be manipulated, and the moves might seem convoluted, but the bitter truth remains — the Kashmir issue has been a pawn in the hands of power-hungry politicians and a myopic military establishment in Pakistan. Claude Arpi, an astute Tibetologist, meticulously unravels the historical knot surrounding Gilgit-Baltistan, exposing Pakistan’s illegal occupation, orchestrated betrayals, and the obliviousness of some sections of the Indian media. As the British Parliament’s resolution echoes the rightful ownership of Gilgit-Baltistan by Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan’s house of cards built on deceit and strategic myopia seems destined to crumble. The ball is now in the court of international scrutiny, challenging the very foundations of Pakistan’s narrative, while India must confront its lapses in articulating a historical reality that could reshape the regional power dynamics. In this complex geopolitical theatre, where the stakes are nothing short of national sovereignty, Claude Arpi serves a piercing spotlight on the stage, urging both nations and the world to see through the charade and reckon with the undeniable truth.

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