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Meenakshi Sharma asked: Has abrogation of Article 370 led to any change in India's defence policy?

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  • S. Kalyanaraman replies: The Government of India has not issued any statement regarding a change in defence policy since the abrogation of Article 370. Instead, it has emphasised that the change in legislation is a purely internal matter that only reorders the constitutional relationship between the Centre and a constituent unit (erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir) of the Republic of India.

    Thus, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar informed his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in August 2019 that the legislation passed by Parliament is an “internal matter” and that it has “no implication for either the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.” He also stated that “India was not raising any additional territorial claims” over and above its long established position on the broad alignment of the boundary, and wishes to settle the boundary question in accordance with the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles agreed to by the two countries in 2005. In other words, India remains committed to the pursuit of a peaceful settlement of the boundary question and does not appear to be contemplating any change in its defence policy vis-a-vis China.

    With respect to Pakistan as well, India continues to stand by its longstanding claim to all the legal territories that belonged to the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir which had acceded to the Indian Union in October 1947. The change in the political status of Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian Union after the revocation of Article 370 has no impact on India's legitimate claims to territories under Pakistan's control. It is true that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stated that bilateral talks with Pakistan would henceforth be on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. For his part, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar also voiced the expectation of India regaining “physical jurisdiction” one day over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Neither statement, however, offers any hint with regard to the government contemplating military action to regain the territories concerned.

    In effect, as on date, there is no indication of a change in the objectives that the Government of India has assigned to the armed forces in terms of reclaiming territories that continue to remain under the occupation of China and Pakistan. 

    Posted on January 28, 2020

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.