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International relations

India's stature helps mute responses to Kashmir power grab

Pakistan seeks Security Council meeting but Russia has already backed the move

Large swaths of the Kashmir region have remained in a communications blackout since Aug. 5.   © Reuters

NEW DELHI -- The rest of the globe is beginning to react to India's decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, with Russia becoming the first permanent member of the U.N. Security Council to back the move, which has otherwise garnered guarded responses.

Pakistan also claims sovereignty over Kashmir and has sought an emergency Security Council meeting over the matter. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday said in a televised message that he has sent a letter to the 15-member Security Council requesting it meet to discuss India's "illegal" step. China, a close ally and one of the Security Council's five permanent members, "fully supports" Pakistan on the issue, he added.

Russia, another permanent member, has moved to support New Delhi. "We proceed from fact that the changes associated with the change in the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and its division into two union territories are carried out within the framework of the constitution of the Republic of India," the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday in a statement that is likely to deflate Islamabad's Security Council hopes.

Pakistani diplomats are working intensely to mobilize the international community against India's move. But the U.S. and many other nations have offered only tepid responses, calling on the South Asian neighbors to exercise restraint and maintain peace in the region.

The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation held a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Aug. 6 following a request from Pakistan, but only reiterated its earlier position. In a statement, it "condemned the gross human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir" and encouraged the parties to settle the issue through negotiations.

Some OIC members, including the UAE and the Maldives, have separately described India's move as an internal matter, while Saudi Arabia, Iran and other members have carefully avoided taking sides, calling for the disputants to maintain regional peace and stability through dialogue.

Analysts say India's good relations with OIC and other countries have played a big role in muting their responses.

Another factor working against Pakistan, the analysts say, is that country's economic struggles. Meanwhile, India is further strengthening its international ties through a pending deal in which oil and gas major Saudi Aramco is to acquire a 20% stake in the oil and chemicals business of India's Reliance Industries. The transaction is one of the largest inbound foreign direct investments in India to date.

"Certain organizations like OIC might [have] brought out a resolution at the behest of Pakistan condemning whatever has been happening in Kashmir," Pankaj Jha, an associate professor in India's O.P. Jindal Global University, said. "But if you look at the composure of many of the OIC countries, such as the Maldives or UAE, their position has been much muted because nobody wants to take up the issue," given their relations with India.

Large parts of India's only Muslim-majority state have remained in a communications blackout since Aug. 5, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government announced that the Indian constitution's Article 370, "a temporary provision," would be scrapped and the state split into two federally governed areas. The provision has allowed the region to frame its own laws and keep people from other parts of the country from buying property.

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