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October 24, 2019

A continuing war


October 24, 2019

The tensions between Indian and Pakistan which many of us had hoped would simmer down over time have erupted once again with the Indian media playing up every remark whenever possible. Pakistan has to some extent at least been able to internationalize the Kashmir issue and draw in groups from around the world to take notice of it. Apart from human rights monitors, the issue of Kashmir was raised in the US House of Representatives by Under Secretary of State Alice Wells before a committee. She commented on the need for India to alleviate the sufferings of Kashmiris. In New York Pakistan’s outgoing ambassador to the UN Dr Maleeha Lodhi also spoke to a senior officer from the political affairs department of the organization and stated that India’s claims of destroying a terrorist camp in Pakistan administered Kashmir were completely untrue. She pointed out that Islamabad had offered to take diplomats and neutral observers to the spot where India alleged the attack had taken place. Dr Lodhi has also been campaigning actively on Kashmir for the past few days after the latest skirmishes across the Line of Control and has attempted to persuade key persons in the UN that the Kashmir issue must not go ignored.

Meanwhile, as angry words and verbal attacks on Pakistan continue to come in from New Delhi, Prime Minister Imran Khan has also won active support from Malaysia, Turkey and other nations. Pakistan will of course be attempting to expand its contacts with other nations over the coming days. It appears that in the meanwhile there is unlikely to be any reduction in tensions given the tone taken by India and the hostile remarks by its ministers including Minister for Defence Rajnath Singh. This is obviously a disturbing situation. Analysts have expressed fears that the smallest mistake could spark off further skirmishes and ignite a conflict. A few weeks ago, there were reports that an Indian commercial airliner accidently given a military code had flown over Pakistan enroute to Kabul and Pakistani radar had spotted the military code assigned to it. Fortunately, the mistake was detected in time, but it is quite possible the next error on either side could go undetected and have very serious consequences.

The matter is one that the UN and other bodies need to take up urgently. There have been indications that this may be happening. The UN has shown more interest in Kashmir than at any time over the last many years. Naturally, this is encouraging for Pakistan. But the question here is not of winning any verbal war but of bringing the current situation to an end so that a peaceful life can resume for Kashmiris and there can be moves to resolve the long-standing dispute.

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