Reopening old wounds
Recent Pakistani government publications describe the towns of Junagadh and Manavadar as ‘disputed’ territories, according to the Gujarat state government.
Pakistan usually uses the principle behind Junagadh’s accession to India as the basis on which it believes Kashmir should have rightfully become a part of Pakistan. If indeed Pakistan intends to create another dispute – this time around Junagadh – it would have to logically give up its claim over Kashmir. But logic has been among the things that matter the least in Pakistan’s policy towards India.
Pakistan’s creation of a fresh dispute over Junagadh fall into a familiar pattern: to convert the aftermath of large-scale communal violence into opportunities for stoking the fires of separatism. The next step would the creation of a self-styled liberation army which would engage in terrorism in the name of religion. Pakistan as usual would provide moral, diplomatic and political support. This is a worst-case scenario but could well come about if it is not nipped in the bud. Pakistan is unlikely to derive any advantage from stirring up trouble in Junagadh. Apart from creating yet another thorn in India’s side, it may itself bleed from opening another old wound from the days of Partition.
Yet, the answer may not be to take up cudgels with Pakistan directly, but to ensure that India’s own population in Junagadh and the border areas do not get alienated with the mainstream. Until the advent of Modi, there was little reason to believe that they would. After Godhra, that region deserves extra care. Ironically, while Modi may have been alert to spot the ice-berg ahead, he is not quite the right person to steer the ship away from it.