As per government sources in New Delhi, Over 20 foreign diplomats stationed in New Delhi are getting ready to visit Jammu and Kashmir on February 17, Wednesday, on a two-day visit. The delegation comprises foreign diplomats from Middle-eastern, African, and European countries.
This will be the fourth such visit of top foreign diplomats to Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A from the state on August 5, 2019. A delegation of European MPAs had previously visited Kashmir in October 2019 on a two-day visit which was followed by a visit by 16 foreign envoys, including the US Ambassador to New Delhi, on January 9 last year.
A 25 member-delegation of foreign envoys had also visited Kashmir on February 12, 2020. This delegation included diplomats from Germany, Canada, France, and Afghanistan. Top Indian diplomat from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Vikas Swarup, had led the delegation, which met several civil society delegations and was briefed by bureaucrats and security establishment in Jammu and Kashmir.
The foreign diplomats who will be reaching Kashmir on February 17 evening will be welcomed in Gulmarg, the place which has witnessed record tourism in the recent weeks. The delegation is likely to also visit Baramulla in North Kashmir.
Government officials stated that the focus of the visit will be around grassroots democracy thriving in Jammu and Kashmir after the successful District Development Council (DDC) elections in a free and fair manner.
The diplomats will be given a detailed presentation on the political process beginning in Kashmir which paved the way for 4G Internet restoration across the Union Territory after 18 long months. The delegation will also meet and personally interact with victorious DDC representatives from across Jammu and Kashmir.
The foreign diplomats who will also be visiting Jammu are likely to contact Jammu and Kashmir Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha and will be given a briefing on developmental initiatives and the present security situation, especially in the Kashmir valley, by top bureaucrats, cops, and army officers.
In spite of all the positive developments, a threat has emerged from across the LOC. Indian intelligence agencies have flagged the launching of a motivated misinformation campaign amid the visit of foreign diplomats to Jammu and Kashmir. In the absence of any separatist or fundamentalist elements to instigate violence in Kashmir, Pakistani intelligence agencies have resorted to social media for a propaganda campaign against the visit.
“Several tweets with posters spreading misinformation about the visit and ground situation in Kashmir have been tracked down to servers in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” intelligence sources said. Intelligence agencies have accessed the posters and directions from the Pakistan deep state, which call for a shutdown in Kashmir on February 17 and gives a guide on how to plan the motivated campaign against India.
A senior defense official said, “We have also pinpointed two individuals living abroad and who are absconding from India after committing several terror crimes. They are pushing this fake narrative against India at the behest of Pakistan ISI. One of the reasons why the internet was shut down in Jammu and Kashmir was to avoid any violence or loss of life due to such motivated and propaganda posts by Pakistan deep state,”.
India’s security system over the last many months has observed sudden desperation from Pakistan to instigate violence in Kashmir in the run-up to the summer of 2021.
“Lack of violence or any internal rebellion in Kashmir in the recent months is being seen as a loss by Pakistan Army and ISI. They are desperate to act but facing a lack of support on the ground in Kashmir,” sources said.
For now, India welcoming diplomats after successful DDC elections and restoration of 4G internet in Jammu and Kashmir is being seen as a positive development, which has even been welcomed by the administration of US President Joe Biden.
“We are keenly observing developments in Jammu and Kashmir with concern. The restoration of democracy and the internet are important steps on the ground suggesting a peaceful environment. We look forward to our visit and understand the challenges on the ground,” said a foreign diplomat anonymously.