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August 22, 2019

Watching and waiting


August 22, 2019

As fierce statements continue to emanate from both New Delhi and Islamabad over the situation in Kashmir, the rest of the world essentially continues to watch without any visible moves towards intervention. US President Donald Trump has in a tweet said that on Monday that he spoke to both Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Khan, and that the conversation was “good”. He has emphasized the need for India and Pakistan to urgently resolve the issue. This the two countries are unable to do, with the process of bilateral dialogue which may have achieved this long over. Today there is no effective diplomatic dialogue between the two nuclear armed nations. It is also true that Trump’s response is essentially that of a firefighter. Like other leaders around the world he is anxious to avoid any conflict between the two countries given the dangers this poses. But it does not appear that he is ready to play the role of an arbitrator, speak to other leaders and work out a plan which would be acceptable to both countries and could lead towards some kind of solution.

As Kashmiris are butchered, even Middle Eastern countries have not rebuked India and only China has made even a gesture presenting it would back Pakistan’s cause. The US State Department meanwhile has said the situation in the region is a dangerous one and measures need to be taken to resolve it. While the statement it has issued is detailed one, there are no concrete suggestions on what can be done or who should be doing it.

With Pakistan currently isolated, there have been internal discussions at the highest levels on taking the matter to the ICJ. However, analysts suggest that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s statement suggesting this could happen has been questioned in the law ministry which warns that Pakistan must guard against a situation in which it loses its case. It is clear that India is not interested in mediation. The US interest in Kashmir too stems from its concerns over regional security and the ongoing Afghan peace process. There is little evidence that Washington is genuinely eager to try and iron out what has become a very troubled situation. The international response then is hardly encouraging. We do not know if it will change in the event of a wider uprising in occupied Kashmir or a continuation of the increasingly harsh human rights abuses being inflicted on Kashmiris. At the present moment, no way out is being offered by anyone.

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