Monday July 22, 2024

Jammu & Kashmir: what next?

By Saleem Safi
October 23, 2019

Pakistan and India are at daggers drawn since Independence. The bone of contention between the arch rivals, besides some other factors, is the Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, continuous violation of human rights and denial of UN resolutions on plebiscite in the disputed region.

An unfinished agenda of Partition, Jammu & Kashmir till recently enjoyed a special constitutional status according to Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

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Pakistan and India engaged in direct wars in 1965 and 1971 and also confronted each other in Kargil. Moreover, the armed forces of the two countries came face to face on a number of other occasions. But the Indian rulers never dared to change the special status of Occupied Kashmir. However, Narendra Modi, the right-wing prime minister of India, foolishly changed the special constitutional status of Occupied Kashmir and annexed it by abrogating Article 370.

India has been committing atrocities in Occupied Kashmir since its occupation, but it is the first time in history that the Indian government imposed a curfew in the whole valley and turned Occupied Kashmir into a cage and an open prison.

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The government of Pakistan has been trying, for the past 72 years, to internationalize the Kashmir issue by bringing it up on international forums. But India has been trying to suppress the issue by branding it a bilateral problem. In the recent past, India even refused to treat it as a bilateral issue by calling it an ‘internal matter’ of India.

But the Kashmir issue has become global for the first time due to Modi’s stubbornness and Indian atrocities and the inhuman curfew in Occupied Kashmir. The issue of imposed curfew and violation of human rights has been raised by American and other international media, debated in the UN General Assembly and even discussed at the level of the UN Security Council.

It has been said that the Modi government has thrown a ‘loose ball’ towards Pakistan and now it is Pakistan’s turn to hit a sixer (to use cricket terminology). With this move by Modi, the independence of Jammu & Kashmir has reached a stage of ‘now or never’.

But the question is: did Pakistan manage to exploit the opportunity and how many runs did Pakistan make on Modi’s loose ball? I think that our government failed to make even a single run. Instead of hitting a six, the Pakistan government has been waiting, like a failed batsman, for another move by India. I think that the biggest reason for wasting a chance of hitting out has been our unnecessary reliance on the United States instead of trusting our own strength.

During the first visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the United States, I was in Washington DC. At the time, I had warned that what was going on at the Jammu & Kashmir front was happening with a mutual understanding between Modi and Trump. It was based on the fact that Trump had announced mediation between Pakistan and India before his meeting with Imran Khan — which indicated that he already had a plan in his mind for Jammu & Kashmir.

Students of politics like us were also warning that the US might have told India that New Delhi would be accommodated on the eastern border in exchange for Pakistan’s role on the western border. However, the jubilation of meeting with Trump was so high that our ruler did not pay any attention to this speculation.

But a few days after Trump’s announcement of mediation, Narendra Modi ended the special status of Jammu & Kashmir by abrogating Article 370. The United States did not bother or show any serious concern. When Prime Minister Imran Khan requested President Trump about the Jammu & Kashmir issue, during the former’s second visit to the US, Trump failed to play any effective role due to Modi’s denial of any mediation. Frustrated by the US’s attitude, Imran Khan spoke aggressively in the UN General Assembly. While it was indeed an impressive speech, the glaring fact is that such a big issue could not be solved merely by speeches.

The Jammu & Kashmir dispute was indeed internationalized for the first time in history due to Modi’s madness but it is also a painful fact that Pakistan failed to even hold a meeting of the OIC on this. This despite the fact that currently the OIC is being headed by Saudi Arabia where Gen (r) Raheel Sharif has been sent to defend the kingdom. Even now we are busy in solving the kingdom’s problem by mediating between Riyadh and Tehran .

We are continuing to commit blunders: we offended Russia by getting close to the US. Perhaps that is why the Russian foreign minister did not even mention Jammu & Kashmir in his speech at the UN General Assembly.

Though Modi made Jammu & Kashmir a global issue, we failed to cash in on Modi’s blunder and win support at the international level. It is indeed a failure of our foreign policy that only two countries (Turkey and Malaysia) out of all of the Muslim world and China in the rest of the world highlighted the Kashmir issue in the UN General Assembly.

An informal meeting of the Security Council had been called on the will of China but we could not pass a resolution on Kashmir. Recently, the Chinese president visited India and — according to Indian claims — the Kashmir issue was not discussed during his visit.

Perhaps the Chinese president thought that when Pakistan’s prime minister himself seems to have forgotten Kashmir and gotten engaged in mediation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, then why should he offend Modi on the Jammu & Kashmir issue. We got nothing on Kashmir from the UN and nothing also from the OIC. We could not even pass a resolution via the UN Human Rights Council on human rights violations and curfew by India in Occupied Kashmir.

Modi is not ready to take back his decision on Jammu & Kashmir and the world powers seem to be in no mood to pressurize him. However, the innocent Kashmiris are still facing the brunt of Indian atrocities and barbaric curfew. Now the question is what option Pakistan has, and what is our strategy to get Kashmiris of the ordeal they are under? We do not get any satisfactory answer to this from our rulers.

Facing failure on the Kashmir front, Prime Minister Imran Khan is now seeking mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia — perhaps to divert attention. We may not be able to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran because we cannot pressurize them, but these two countries are in a better position to play a role between Pakistan and India. However, both countries have not come forward to mediate between Islamabad and New Delhi. But our prime minister is travelling from Tehran to Riyadh to become the saviour and end the Saudi-Iran animosity.

The million dollar question is: how will the oppressed Kashmiris feel when they see Imran Khan busy in solving the Saudi Arabia and Iran problem instead of getting relief for them? I would think it would be quite painful if one were to walk in the shoes of the caged Kashmiris.

The writer works for Geo TV.