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April 23, 2021

‘Status quo on Kashmir not a solution’

Islamabad

April 23, 2021

Islamabad : Former Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar has cautioned the government of Pakistan against trading a compromise on the rights to Kashmiris for good neighbourly relations with India.

Mr Khokhar was speaking at a webinar on ‘India and South Asia in contemporary times’ organised by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) here.

Mr Khokhar Pakistan is not dealing with a country that is committed to better relations with us as India wants domination of Pakistan the way it has dominated all its other neighbours. He observed that there was a fundamental consensus in India on not giving any concessions to Pakistan on any major issue, especially Kashmir. He said that this consensus among Indian decision-making circles was not a new construct and had been there since Nehru’s time. He urged the decision-makers in Pakistan to assess whether Pakistan was in a strong position to negotiate with India on its terms. He was of the view that India would not concede to Pakistan on anything, even the low-hanging fruit if it would consider itself in a position of strength.

Mr Khokhar said that India was not ready to go back on its actions of August 5, 2019, in Kashmir. Therefore, he asked the decision-makers of Pakistan to be clear on the deliverable of any talks with India. He was of the opinion that if the talks would deliver the status quo on Kashmir, would not solve anything for Pakistan. He urged Pakistan to be clear on what India had to offer and what the people of Pakistan and the Occupied Kashmir would get out of any dialogue with India.

He argued that there were four parties to the Kashmir dispute: India, Pakistan, Kashmiris, and the international community. He cautioned the Government of Pakistan against arrogating to itself the right to compromise on its longstanding internationally-recognised principled position on Kashmir as well as its commitment to the Kashmiris. “The future of Kashmir should be determined by the Kashmiris,” he said.

Commenting on the hegemonic regional approach of New Delhi, Mr Khokhar said that India had a troubled history not only with Pakistan but all its neighbouring countries adding that India was never a truly secular country, even under the long Congress rule. He said that Prime Minister Modi ushered in an era of unapologetic Hindutva ultra-nationalism. He continued that the BJP was deeply committed to Hindutva and aspired to mainstream the RSS ideology through a re-engineering of the Hindu society which needed to be clearly understood in Pakistan.