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How EU lawmakers’ Kashmir visit, Modi’s Saudi trip & Ayodhya verdict are all linked

2019 is not 1992. Yet, Modi knows he can’t take any chances on Kashmir and Ayodhya.

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Two days before Jammu & Kashmir is downgraded and bifurcated into two Union Territories on 31 October, as many as 28 Members of the European Parliament are travelling to Srinagar to check the situation on the ground.

By the time the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) fly into the Kashmir valley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have reached Riyadh to participate in the third Future Investment Initiative (FII) and meet both King Salman as well as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, or MBS as he is popularly known.

And in another two weeks, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is set to deliver the verdict on the most complex Hindu-Muslim land dispute in contemporary India – the land on which once stood the Babri Masjid and where Hindu groups now want to build the Ram Mandir.

All the three issues are connected to India’s largest minority, the Muslims, and how the Modi government is employing outside influencers to help change the perception within.

Also read: World won’t buy Modi’s high-profile diplomacy if he sends far-Right EU members to Kashmir

2019 is not 1992

The PM knows that it will be important to have the Saudis on his side – in dealing with the evolving situation in Kashmir as well as with the fallout of the Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir verdict.

Certainly, 2019 is a far cry from 1992 when the Babri Masjid was demolished, and the demolition got tied up with India’s handling of the insurgency in Kashmir.

At that time too, Pakistan had led the charge to internationalise the Kashmir issue and succeeded to a great extent.

In 2019, Modi has both political strength as well as charisma on his side. Despite the fact there is no opposition to speak of at home, he is taking no chances. He already has a relationship with the Saudis. This visit to Riyadh is no accident.

Modi knows that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sliding economy is being bailed out by the Saudis, most recently with a $3 billion cheque. MBS and his father, King Salman, moreover, routinely employ retired Pakistani army chiefs to head their armies – General Raheel Sharif, who preceded the current Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, is the head of the 41-nation Islamic military counter-terrorism coalition, which is based in Riyadh.

Modi also shares a very close relationship with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, popularly known as MBZ. What is less well-known but is a very important part of this complex equation is MBS’ very close relationship with MBZ.

The UAE Sheikh was instrumental in awarding Modi the Order of Zayed, its highest civilian award in late August. According to the latest figures from the UN’s International Organization for Migration, there as many as 3.4 million (or 34 lakh) Indians living in the Emirates today, while the figure for Pakistanis has dropped to nearly a million (10 lakh approx.) now.

Why has this happened? Emirati sources say the UAE is increasingly uncomfortable with Pakistan’s linkages with terror and terrorism – especially after 9/11 and the discovery of Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, within spitting distance of the Pakistan army training institute in 2011.

Remember the special invitation to former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi in March? It provoked her Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, to say that he would not even attend the event.

Pakistan’s loss was India’s gain.

Also read: How foreign media coverage of Kashmir crisis has become a headache for Modi govt

Exchanging notes on Kashmir

And now it seems the PM’s visit to Saudi Arabia to meet the powerful Crown Prince has been made possible by none other than MBZ.

The Kashmir issue is not formally on the agenda, but it is a matter that both sides will talk about. Modi will likely explain the reasons behind dilution of Article 370 and how security forces have since kept peace. He will point out that despite the lockdown – or because of it – there has been very little violence in the Valley.

Modi’s plan is to demonstrate that the decision to scrap Jammu & Kashmir’s special status is irrevocable. Both the UAE and Saudis understand the need to employ tough measures – neither are particularly democratic nations. Certainly, both Arab rulers will be helpful in mitigating any of the diplomatic stress that Modi’s Kashmir decision may have generated.

For the time being, US President Donald Trump is on board – he is a key Saudi ally too.

Both MBZ and MBS are willing to give Modi the benefit of doubt on Kashmir. As do the visiting European parliamentary delegation, most of whom are elected from right-wing and extreme right-wing parties that revel in anti-immigration, anti-Islam as well as anti-Euro issues.

It is believed the Ministry of External Affairs as well as the European Union embassy in Delhi had nothing to do with the MEP visit. So, who invited them? Did the Indian ambassadors to Italy, France and Germany, from where some of the most right-wing MEPs have come, coordinate their trip to India?

Fact is, the group was given a red-carpet welcome, with a meeting with both the Prime Minister as well as National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

These European parliamentarians are spending Tuesday night in Srinagar; earlier this month, US Senator Chris Van Hollen was reportedly denied permission to visit Kashmir.

By the time PM Modi returns from Riyadh, the Europeans will be back from Srinagar. Will they exchange notes?

Certainly, in the near future, the Kashmir story isn’t going away.

Also read: Modi’s Riyadh visit key to the success of Saudi prince’s ‘Davos in the Desert’


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  1. I believe there are 27 EU Lawmakers on a visit to Kashmir. I tried re-checking with other news agencies as well. It is a well written article otherwise, very thought provoking. Good job!

    • Very patronising!! Can I also request you to please recommend me for a good salary raise and promotion. Thank you.

  2. Some how this author thinks that she should be taken seriously, for suggesting that while restrictions can be equated to “lockdown” , also everything should be taken care for the safety, peace, normalcy and yet look appealing the fanatics. Never mind security of the country and the forces guarding it.
    Dont you think honestly “lockdown” became your new pet grief like”lynch”.
    You can hate Modi, but Modi cannot be nation for you, the media.
    While we general public seems to care so called high opinions of Journos, you dont keep pace with our aspirations, and fixated to your ideology , narrative driven stories.
    Mind you, you media has taken blind one sided political hegemony for granted, while we the general public have successfully de-linked policy with performance., and you have recent two state elections as proof.
    While keep spinning stories and stories, you guys have only one point to prove “Dogs tail cannot be straightened”.

  3. Madam Malhotra, please stay sober while writing news articles. Any one can see u have written this all in stupor. Alcohol is not good for health.

  4. Foreign media:

    “China’s economic woes will make it a less competitive rival in the long term but a greater threat to the United States today. When rising powers have suffered such slowdowns in the past, they became more repressive at home and more aggressive abroad. China seems to be headed down just such a path. ” – Beckley, M (2019) on Foreign Affairs website (28-10-2019).

  5. Of late Shekar Gupta run The Print has become so insecure and so anti Modi after raids that they will print any mindless shit if it is antagonistic to the government. Pity.

  6. How these Bahkts are creating terror if someone is reporting the truth.
    True article at least someone has guts to report the truth and separate themselves from becoming part of so-called Godi Media.

  7. Truly Indian journalism has reached it’s nadir. As it is most journalists have given up reporting and keep writing opinions. Now even that has degenerated to speculation and guesswork.

  8. Jyoti is all writing all speculative, irrelevant and baseless stories. The Print should seriously re-consider publishing her articles before its reputation is damaged beyond redemption. There is nothing wrong if you are anti Modi but you can not be anti India and write any rubbish! It looks like that she is deeply disturbed that Modi is handling the fallout of Kashmir decision rather well. What she forgets is that there is a broad political consensus on removal of Art 370; only differences are about the manner of its removal in the sense that so called pro-India mainstream Kashmiri leaders (Abdullahs and Muftis) were not taken into confidence before this was done constitutionally through both the house of Parliament. That said, there is no question of rolling back this measure ever and no one needs to be explained on this. Also, Indian Muslims have never made any common cause with Kashmiri anti Indian Muslims. As regards so called human rights situation ( meaning free internet for the terrorists!) in some 3 or 4 ‘special’ districts of J&K , it is gradually getting better with passage of time and full restoration of internet services will obviously depend on terrorist incidents. Interestingly, Jyoti does not bother to refer to recent block level elections as well. Visit of EU MPs is a private visit and such ‘private initiatives’ are par for the course. India’s relations with Saudi and UAE are on a different level now and cannot be straitjacketed just for Kashmir.

    • Protocol requires that the columnist be referred to as Ms Jyoti Malhotra. It should also be possible to dissect a column without referring extensively to its author and her preferences / prejudices. Let your incandescent intellect overpower her humble offerings.

      • You think you have a great intellect ashok JI. I can compile all your comments and they would read like a boring novel – repetitive and stale. Aren’t you familiar with the informal way of addressing people? Aren’t people addressed on first name basis Mr China fan? Half-intellect is NO intellect and you precisely have that. I can counter your arguments by citing multiple experts but perhaps you don’t have a level to appreciate incisive and analytical arguments. Go take a break.

  9. This is a testing time for Indian diplomacy, which has all hands on deck. We do not know what foreign governments are saying in private but the entire western media is highly critical. At such a time, the knowledge, expertise, institutional memory of the diplomatic corps are required in full measure. They should be overruled only in the rarest of rare circumstances.

    • Is this journalism, what kind of speculative article is this, truly a right wing phobic propagandist, the credibility of the print is really questionable, pathetic like many news channels and media

    • You are neither a diplomat nor a strategic expert. You are NOT even a media person. You are just one ordinary reader who has nothing to offer except your opinion and that too NOT backed by real solid arguments offered by experts. My friend, this is the same country that facilitated creation of Bangladesh, merged with Sikkim, did the Pokharan blast (in spite of Western governments’ vehement objection) and gave refuge to the Dalai Lama in spite of Chinese hegemony. Go read a few books before returning to this website. And stop pretending to be a know-all wise man. Don’t think you have ever worked in a leadership capacity any time in your life. At least that’s the perception one gains from your comments.

  10. India’s friendship with KSA and UAE is one of the old successes of Indian foreign policy, which has managed to insulate several important relationships with Muslim countries – also Iran and Iraq – from our long standing dispute with Pakistan. As a major importer of oil and gas, India is an important market for many of these countries. Indian guest workers make a valuable contribution to some of these exconomies. This idyllic picture does, however, get disturbed when communal relations within the country get strained. We do ourselves no favours by saying these countries are okay with what China is doing in Xinjiang.

    • You fool dhimmi keep your mouth shut. What happens in our country is our matter. We can’t allow Middle East stooges to be in our country.

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