Foreign minister S Jaishankar termed the scrapping of Article 370 — which gave Jammu and Kashmir its special status — “one of the biggest achievements” of the BJP-led Central government. In a conversation with NDTV’s Editor-in-Chief Sanjay Pugalia that’s part of NDTV’s mega conclave “Decoding G-20”, Mr Jaishankar said he was a member of the cabinet in 2019 and was involved in the decisions which were taken.
“One part is still amazed at how we put up with this situation till 2019… How we allowed this situation to fester for so long,” he said.
Told that the foreign ministry’s biggest achievement is that Pakistan no longer crops up in conversations with the media, Mr Jaishankar laughed. “What can I say? It is in a way, the verdict of the market. Who wants to talk about losing stock,” he added to laughter and cheers from the audience.
Regarding Jammu and Kashmir, the change on the ground, he said, has been hugely positive. “I had gone there when I joined the government in 1979… I went to the same place in 2019… and I was amazed at how little had changed there between 1979 and 2019,” he said.
But the time warp in Jammu and Kashmir, he indicated, was artificial and politically motivated — in India and out.
“Forget about everything else, actually we kept that state backward for reasons of politics… I saw how the rest of the world used this issue, to pressurise us, to damage us… and if people ask me in these five years to list our key achievements, I’d certainly put how we countered Covid… and I’d definitely put what we did with Article 370 because it has long term benefits,” Mr Jaishankar said.
In his experience, the rest of the world has also come to accept the move on Jammu and Kashmir, “only we are concerned about what people would say,” the minister added.
Mr Jaishankar’s comments come as a five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the scrapping of Article 370.
The hearing has been on for 12 days, during which the Centre has cited the positive changes in the erstwhile state, which was split into two Union territories in 2019 after is special status was scrapped. The government has claimed that support for terror has dwindled, business has got a boost and tourism is flourishing.