ISLAMABAD: Fore senior diplomats of Pakistan counselled the government to undertake a course correction of its past policies on Kashmir, build a narrative to convince the global community to support...
ISLAMABAD: Fore senior diplomats of Pakistan counselled the government to undertake a course correction of its past policies on Kashmir, build a narrative to convince the global community to support the Kashmiris, adding that it was lawful to support a armed resistance under the international law.
Speaking in Geo News programme, Capital Talk, on Monday, host Hamid Mir said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has completed its one year in power. On completion of one year, he announced an important decision: the appointment of General Qamar Javed Bajwa as the Chief of Army Staff for another three years. A brief notification issued in this regard says the decision has been made keeping in view the regional security environment.
He said the current regional security environment mainly involves Pakistan-India tensions and the role of Pakistan in taking forward the Afghan peace process. He said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also pointed out these two issues while announcing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to give extension to General Bajwa.
Hamid Mir said experts participating in his programme would discuss these two points besides other challenges afflicting the regional security environment which prompted extension in service period of Gen Bajwa. He said the experts taking part in Capital Talk included Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, who served as Pak high commissioner in India for about five years, and also served on various high diplomatic positions. Second guest in programme Abdul Basit also served as Pak high commissioner to India, third guest Shahid Malik, who also served as the high commissioner in India for about six years.
In response to Hamid Mir’s question that why extension to Gen Bajwa was crucial in the wake of the current regional security environment, defence expert Lt-Gen (retd) Amjad Shoaib said situation in the region had changed abruptly.Against the backdrop of the Kashmir situation, Pakistan will have to take special measures. Numerous complexities have arisen on the Kashmir front, which are at the preparatory stage, and Pakistan will have to pursue them.
Amjad Shoaib said Gen Bajwa had told him in an earlier meeting that he was not interested in getting extension in service. He said he had requested the incumbent government to send him on retirement. However, he said the situation had changed lately. Lt-Gen (retd) Amjad Shoaib said in his recent meetings with Army chief General Bajwa after his US visit, it transpired that a lot of things needed to be fixed. A number of things are directly linked and limited to Gen Bajwa due to his recent US visit. Therefore, the government might have felt need for giving Gen Bajwa extension in service for continuity of the process.
However, Amjad Shoaib added, the duration of extension could be debated whether three years were needed, or two or only one-year extension was sufficient. He said he was not fully aware of the situation that how much work was left now. But one thing is quite clear that we needed continuity of the process if we wanted to tackle the complexities and resolve the issues, added Lt-Gen (retd) Amjad Shoaib.
Talking part in the talk, Ashraf Jahangir Qazi said it was a good day as he received two good news: extension in service of Chief of Army Staff and dropping of charges against Supreme Court judge, Justice Qazi Faiz Isa.
Abdul Basit, shedding light on the issue, said currently Pakistan is running serious issues with India, and the Afghan peace process is also passing through critical stage, along with our current relations with the US. All these things impact our regional security environment. All these developments must have prompted extension to Gen Bajwa. But, added Abdul Basit, he believed [personal] relations between civil and military leadership also count. During the last one year, a good harmony had been observed between the prime minister and the army chief. He said he believed that at this stage, disturbing that harmony was not appropriate. And that might have prompted the need for giving an extension. Basit said in case of appointment of a new Army chief, there might be some change of mind, and the premier might also have thought so. Perhaps, prime minister would also have thought of not disturbing the mutual harmony, as the next three years are very crucial for Pakistan in the wake of changing security environment situation.
Hamid Mir asked Shahid Malik that in February 2019, Pakistan and India had reached at the verge of war. India claimed that it crossed the LoC and destroyed a training camp in Balakot area. However, it did not present any proof in support of its claims. On the other hand, their pilot was forced to jump by parachute because his plane had been hit by our plane. He was caught. India was ashamed. Once again, in August 2019, the same situation is being faced. Tension between India and Pakistan is at its peak. Do you think that one of the reasons for extending Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s term is that he had wisely tackled the threat of war in February 2019 and the same intelligence is again needed in the present situation?
Shahid Malik: First of all, I will say that on the one side, there are three envoys and on the other side is Hamid Mir. There is no competition. As regards your question, my opinion is a little bit different. Continuity is required in the present circumstances. Institutions have their own value. As Gen Amjad Shoaib said that Gen Bajwa was reluctant to extension, but, at the moment, there are definitely some events, which I don’t know, under which the decision was taken. The decision should have been taken after due consideration.
Hamid Mir: Your opinion is just like that of Gen Bajwa. And what Gen Amjad Shoaib said that Gen Bajwa said before him that he was not interested in extension. The same he had once said before us. His argument was just like yours. We are trying to understand the “regional security environment” mentioned by the prime minister.
Shahid Malik: Leave aside the decision. As far as the regional security environment is concerned, it is clear to all. In this environment, we have to be cautious on both Eastern and Western fronts. When I was high commissioner to India at the time of Mumbai attacks, the same talks were heard. As far as the regional security environment is concerned, there is no question about it. In this environment, we can’t afford to relax in any sense.
Hamid Mir: The threat of war ended in February 2019. Now India is not only resorting to LoC violations and suppressing the Kashmiris but is also violating the Indus Water Treaty and released water in the rivers. Do you think we will get rid of the war threat this time again or the threat is there?
Ashraf Jahangir Qazi: There is no doubt that there is a threat of war. India is not ready to review its August 5 decision, though some concern has been shown by the world.
If the statement of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres is assessed, it carries the charter of the UNO. They feel due to these measures the tension can escalate. And it is not a good thing. But in camera meeting of the UN Security Council was without consensus. It is also not clear as what would be the next steps on the part of the UNO.
The main point is that India does not seem willing to change her decision on Indian-held Kashmir (IHK). It is observable thing as what would be the reaction of the people of the IHK when curfew and lockdown are lifted. And India has to do it because it is not possible for India to maintain continuously curfew and lockdown in the IHK. Circumstances are indicating that the reaction would be very severe. And if the protest of the people of the IHK intensifies, the atrocities from Indian side will increase with the same ratio and widespread casualties cannot be ruled out. There is public opinion in Pakistan as there are scores of Kashmiris in Pakistan. Lahore has 25 to 30 percent Kashmiri population that would get affected owing to casualties in IHK. Pakistan has to make efforts to make its diplomacy more effective in an aggressive way.
An insensitivity shown by the international community towards the plight of the IHK people has been noticed. Such insensitivity was depicted from our Muslim brothers as well.
We can gauge the attitude of the government of the UAE where Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is being invited and he would be awarded with the highest medal there. Our diplomacy can be successful to certain limits. If bloodshed intensified in the IHK and situation reaches to the point of genocide, then Kashmiris brothers would expect something from Pakistan. It is a collective decision of the Kashmiris to prefer death to becoming Indians. But here in Pakistan there is a section of the society that says that we cannot destroy Pakistan for Kashmiris. Some say Kashmir is our jugular vein and it is not possible for us the live if this vein is cut. They say our nuclear deterrent is for the safety of Pakistan.
We consider all Kashmiris as Pakistanis. This is correct if they want to decide in the favour of Pakistan, then there is a method that defines the UNO. Now India has the people of the IHK as well.
Shah Faisal, a former Indian civil servant, has formed his party. Now, the talk of third option has vanished. Now in the IHK there are puppets of Indian government or those who are in favour of UNO resolutions.
In the same way Mahbooba Mufti and Omer Abdullah Farooq Abdullah have stated that they have committed a blunder. We are at wrong and upset. Indian government would inflict atrocities on them as they would treat other Kashmiris cruelly.
Will we watch this all as spectators? Or we are ready to do something practically. The ‘sword’ of FATF is hanging over our heads, IMF has the mentioning of FATF, we face double standards from the USA, and all other countries, including our friends, say that they should try to reduce tension. They urge us to find bilateral solution to the issue. They are suggesting us these things when India has ended dialogue process, Simla Agreement, Lahore Declaration and now has finished LOC.
What will be basis for the bilateral dialogue? Rajnath has said it will be on Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. Can we be ready for talks in the situation?
Hamid Mir: What Pakistan should do?
Abdul Basit: We did well to form a Jammu and Kashmir Cell in the Foreign Office. Qazi sahib is right that we should launch aggressive diplomacy. It will be seen what happens in occupied Kashmir after curfew is lifted. How people will resist? How long the resistance will last? After Wani’s martyrdom in July 2016, India faced problems for three weeks.
Hamid Mir: If the resistance starts again, what will you do?
Abdul Basit: We can do many things. You will remember that when the issue of Wani continued, the Uri incident had happened. The then Pakistan prime minister had to address the United Nations five days before it. I fear a false flag operation can also happen now. It may be in Punjab. It may not be in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. They may also link it the Kartarpur Corridor. India can also escalate the situation at LoC through a false flag operation. Secondly, we should move forward with diplomacy.
Informal consultation of UN has ended. It did not issue any press statement. We know many countries did not stand with us and we should accept this fact instead of saying Pakistan got historical victory, this claim is just to mislead ourselves. We have to be realistic and bring aggressiveness in our diplomacy. We will have to tell the world that we give importance to Kashmir. Unless we do not do this, the world will not believe us. Now Kashmir Cell has been set up and your next step is special envoy on Jammu and Kashmir who will coordinate your Kashmir Diplomacy and execute it. You have to tell to the world that Kashmir is necessary for us and therefore we are doing this. You should hold an international convention in London and create a resolution. Our PM will go to UNGA session where work could be done. For God sake do not carry out such work that is like ad-hocism. Now form a strategy and you yourself decide what is your bottom-line. When India crosses that then we will take action. We should know what is End game. Unfortunately, what I saw for the last ten or 15 years, we could not know that what is End game and what End game we want from Kashmir. Sometimes there is four points formula and sometimes Mian Sahib laid down completely or sometimes in an agreement Jammu and Kashmir is excluded. This discontinuity in our policy does not give correct message to the world.
Hamid Mir asked should we stand on Article 257 of Constitution of Pakistan.
Ashraf Jahangir Qazi said it was mandatory because it countered Article 370.
Abdul Basit said it was necessary to stick to that article and we should not move even a single step back.
Hamid Mir said at present several people were demanding out-of-box solution.
Abdul Basit said out-of-box solution was a violation of Article 257. Let me tell you another thing that India has introduced the reorganisation act and delimitation is being carried out in Jammu and Kashmir under the Indian Article 367 and elections are being held in March.
He said the amendment made to Article 367 had converted the Constituent Assembly into a Legislative Assembly and it meant under the new delimitation Jammu will get 42 seats and Kashmir 45 when the election will be held.
He said it will be their effort that all Kashmiris should boycott elections so that their own proxies get elected and enter the assembly to approve the action taken by the Indian Parliament.
Hamid told Shahid Malik that we should stand on Article 257 as former president Asif Ali Zardari had highlighted Kashmir issue with full force during his address in the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in his address in the United Nations General Assembly had referred to the name of Kashmiri leader Burhan Vani and now Imran Khan will also make a vehement speech in the general assembly.
Hamid Mir also told Shahid Malik that Abdul Basit was saying that Pakistan should infuse aggression in its diplomacy and what would be the new aggression in our diplomacy.
Shahid Malik said Article 370 will have to be abolished for infusing new aggression and aggression should be created in ourselves by keeping in view new Indian stubbornness on Kashmir.
We will have to take steps on a war-footing and study our past mistakes and ponder how to make course correction. There is a big meaning behind course correction and those who understand this will also comprehend why he has used these words.
He said our prime minister should be well-prepared before addressing the General Assembly of UNO, and also to contact our friends on a war footing and use Kashmiris’ influence across the world including America, Canada and Britain to tell them about the violation of human rights in IHK.
About aggression in policy, Hamid Mir asked Shahid Malik that our close brother country, the UAE, is going to give the highest award, Sheikh Zahid Medal, to Indian Premier Modi on August 22 or 23, while our PM called him fascist and follower of Hitler and is it failure of our diplomacy and foreign policy.
Shahid Malik said: “Let him use English sentence. There are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. He said it was the same USA that did not issue visa to Modi and now it rolled out a red carpet for him and accepted Modi.
He said the UAE had its interest in India, while Saudi Arabia had its own. He said you (Hamid Mir) did not mention interests of other countries openly but I openly mention and these are Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain.
What we have gained. Tell me what kind of support we got from Islamic countries. We will have to examine ourselves in real sense. We will have to releases what power we have and what weaknesses we lay in ourselves and we should control these and move forward according to our strength.
We should sit with our friends and talk to them face to face and heart to heart that at what limit they extend their support to us and in light of that we should chalk out our policy.
Hamid said Abdul Basit said that an international convention will have to be conducted in London.
Abdul Basit said the UAE had $60 billion trade with India. He said after US and China the third largest 2.3 million Indians are working in the UAE. He said the game was different and we have to look into these things with realistically.
Talking about the holding of international convention in London, Hamid Mir mentioned singer Salman Ahmed of Janoon who is going to hold a big concert in London. He had also conducted a concert in Srinagar some years back.
Hamid Mir asked Salman Ahmed why he had dedicated his August 25 London concert to Kashmir.
Salman Ahmed said he had conducted his concert in May 2008 in Srinagar and he was the first Pakistani who had performed for the college students and people there and he found a great emotions and frenzy of freedom among them and that thing struck his heart that we are raising alarm this time.
He said now it was his duty as a social activist and goodwill ambassador of UNO that on the humanitarian basis we have to protect their health, security and human rights and tell the world that the country which possesses nuclear arms when comes to power there and becomes fascist then it will be dangerous for whole world, not for our territory or Pakistan or India but for the whole world.
We will sing freedom songs and encourage Kashmiris during the show of Janoon on August 25.
Hamid Mir said Salman was the goodwill ambassador of UNO like Priyanka Chopra but he (Hamid Mir) did not use language which showed your war frenzy between India and Pakistan but Priyanka Chopra uttered war like statement and several people saying that she should be fired as goodwill ambassador. What you think?
Salman said as a UN goodwill ambassador we are told that give voice to the voiceless. Voiceless people are those the media does not hear them like the people of Kashmir where curfew is imposed. They are voiceless people. I am astonished to see that Ms. Chopra who is goodwill ambassador of Unicef instead of raising voice for Kashmiri people is taking side of Indian Army which wants to use nuclear weapons against Pakistan.
He said he is a patriotic Pakistani but it does not mean that he should use jingoism from this platform.
Salman said she is a patriotic Indian and she should talk sensibly because your platform is an international one and the world is watching what are you talking about. He said it was his proposal to arrange a concert on Kashmir.
Ashraf Jahangiri said he remained associated with the UN and was under-secretary general in Iraq and Sudan.
He said he heard but did not read her statement but if she said that India should launch a nuclear strike on Pakistan then she cannot remain a representative under the charter of UNO for one day.
Hamid Mir to former ambassador Abdul Basit: Many people are of the opinion that India has unleashed a water war against Pakistan and might even unilaterally scrap the Indus Waters Treaty.
Abdul Basit: The Indus Waters Treaty continues to exist. We need 142 million acre feet of water and that we continue to get. There are floods in India right now but they have released waters without informing us about them. But there is no threat at this point of time to the water treaty.
Hamid Mir to Ashraf Jehangir Qazi: Do you agree that the Sindh Tass water agreement remains in force.
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi: Yes it does. Despite wars with India, the treaty was never scrapped. The World Bank is a guarantor to the treaty. People do talk about it. But that cannot happen as that would be an outright cause for war.
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi: We should not talk like this, because sometimes the political statements were found contrary to the facts. Pakistan has suffered embarrassment due to that. It is not that India does not resort to this kind of behavior, but we should be careful in making such statements.
Hamid Mir to Shahid Malik: NDMA has reported India releasing water from the three spillways of the Ladakh Dam into the Indus. They have released water into Sutlej. They are also releasing water into River Ravi. Isn’t all this violation of the waters treaty.
Shahid Malik: India is engaged in environmental warfare. While it is true that Indus Waters Treaty was not scrapped and it will be next to impossible to do so. But many times they violated the accord by not giving us our due share from the eastern rivers, which created serious issues for us. I think we must inform our global friends that India has done such things several times. And they must forewarn India from creating problems for Pakistan by hurting our water share.
India has been seen harassing us at many times and we must go to the ICJ with full preparations. In the context of India’s human rights violations, we should similarly prepare ourselves. Water is a very serious issue and India in future would continue to bully us on that account and we should be fully prepared.
Hamid Mir: We have serious challenges confronting us of both avoiding war with India while at the same time addressing its human rights violations in the occupied valley. What do you suggest how should we handle this predicament.
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi: We should engage in aggressive diplomacy but that is not alone helpful. India is a big country and a huge economy and a market which will not be impacted or disturbed by condemnations or sanctions. They only hurt smaller nations like Pakistan. The important determinant would be the scale of Kashmir’s freedom struggle.
Hamid Mir: India is propagating infiltrations from Pakistan into the occupied valley, which they exploit to its full.
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi: The commitments made by us to the FATF have to be fulfilled. The next round of FATF consultations would take place in Australia determining if we remain in the grey list or we are condemned to the black one. But we have to fulfill the FATF conditionalities.
But Kashmir’s armed resistance is legally justified if it is being fought for rights protected by the UNSC resolutions and the international community. If the Kashmiris seek assistance from any country for their rightful resistance that would be justified under the international law. This will not hurt Pakistan or Azad Kashmir even if people from there go to assist the Kashmiris in the legitimate resistance and that would be legal as well.
The US after 9/11 has interpreted any resistance against state repression as terrorism. That is not international law but Pakistan will have to keep the US viewpoint and the FATF conditions in sharp focus. At the same time, however, we cannot abandon the Kashmiris under this pressure as we will come under extreme condemnation and moral pressure domestically if we do so.
Any damage to Pakistan because of Kashmir advocacy and support would also not be beneficial to the Kashmiris. Pakistanis would however be left with no other alternative but to help the Kashmiris in case of Kashmiri genocide.
Hamid MIR to Abdul Basit: Do you agree with the analysis of Ambassador Ashraf Qazi?
Abdul Basit: Diplomacy has its own limitations. But a point would come where Indian repressions against Kashmiris will force us to take decisive action.
Hamid Mir: Do you agree that those living in Azad Kashmir are duty bound to assist their brethren in the occupied valley?
Abdul Basit: The global community also has a duty and not Pakistan alone. Under the international law, the Kashmiris can seek support from any global partner against Indian repression. The world would have to support Kashmiris in their just armed resistance and that would be justified under the international law.
Hamid Mir to Shahid Malik: Is the global community duty bound to support Kashmiris’ armed struggle under the international law.
Shahid Malik: It is an established fact under the international covenants that the victims of state repression can seek global support from anywhere. Those helping the victims cannot be held accountable for doing so. We need a course correction now after our 70-year history and must seek and provide support to the Kashmiris under this particular international law.
Hamid Mir: You advocate Pakistan’s right to provide support under international law, but when we do so India raises the bogey of cross border terrorism? Furthermore, global powers back India.
Shahid Malik: We need to build and direct our narrative towards the international community and convince them to our viewpoint. We need to logically argue the issue with both friends and foes across the globe and convince them to our viewpoint.
Hamid Mir: Prime Minister Imran Khan terms Modi a fascist but our friend the UAE is honouring him with their highest national award. We should convince our international friends that the Indian prime minister is the butcher of Muslims in Gujraat and Kashmir and is victimizing them through the worst form of state repression. We should tell our friends that you may have economic interests but Paksitan’s only concern is to support the Kashmiris in their rightful struggle under international law by all means. The foreign minister must pay attention to the advice of these seasoned and senior-most diplomats to change our narrative on Kashmir and convince the world accordingly.