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India embraces 'might is right' in Kashmir move

  • 20 August 2019


The Morrison government is keen to stress how India and Australia share 'common values' — the subtext being that the same can't be said about Australia and China. But common values have vanished in India, as highlighted by its blunt use of military force to crush the semi-autonomous state of Jamma and Kashmir.

In a speech in New Delhi on 9 January, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said one of the common values is that both countries are 'firm believers that "might is not right"'. Clearly, India believes 'might' entitled it to suppress the Islamic majority in Jamma and Kashmir, expel foreigners, cut outside communications, imprison political leaders, change the law to let Hindus from elsewhere buy property and businesses and repeal the constitutional provisions previously guaranteeing the state's substantial degree of autonomy after the division of India and Pakistan in 1947.

All mainstream Australian media outlets, except The Conversation, have refused to give sustained coverage of what is happening in Kashmir, preferring to focus on the student demonstrations in Hong Kong. That topic deserves considered attention. At the time of writing, however, the Beijing government has refrained from using military force.

In her speech in Delhi, Mayne not only praised Australia and India's supposed belief that 'might is not right', she insisted the two countries are 'champions of international law'. That will be news to people in the Middle East who still suffer the consequences of Australia's breach of international law in joining the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Mayne's claim may also puzzle the citizens of Timor-Leste who remember that Australia pulled out all international dispute settlement procedures to prevent legal challenges to the raw deal it imposed on the tiny impoverished nation during the negotiations over petroleum resource boundaries. Australia also illegally bugged the cabinet officers in Dili to provide information to Woodside Energy about Timor-Leste's negotiating position.

Another shared value, according to Payne, was support for 'free, open and independent democracies'. This can't be reconciled with what is happening in India.

Writing in The Conversation on 9 August one scholar, Ayeshar Ray, described the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's takeover of Kashmir as a 'stunningly dangerous, undemocratic and secretive move'. Another scholar,Reeta Tremblay, writing in the same publication on 11 August, said Modi had ushered in 'an era of ethnic majoritarianism that raises differences, dissent and the rights of minorities. Uniformity has become the defining feature of the Indian state, replacing