The Kashmir quagmire: Options for Pakistan

By Asma Khalid

The unresolved Kashmir dispute is the defining factor in the bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. Since the partition of the sub-continent, the Kashmir issue has been described as the unfinished agenda of the partition of British India and now many more aspects have been added such as geo-political and socio-economic dimensions. Kashmir is not only a territorial conflict but a matter of Human rights violations and regional stability.


Tension between India and Pakistan has grown more perilous since India’s action of scrapping the autonomous status for Occupied Kashmir enshrined in Article 370 of (India’s) Constitution and bifurcated the occupied region into two separate Union territories – Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir and Buddhist dominated Ladakh. A new wave of brutality raised its head in the lead up to the move when India imposed a curfew in IOK and deployed thousands of the troops in the valley. War crimes are continually committed by Indian forces in Kashmir; civilians and political leaders have been arrested, public meetings are banned, thousands of the security check posts have been established, communication blackout continues and the people are suffering from a constant lack of medical care and basic living necessities.


BJP’s unilateral move of abrogation of article 370 and ongoing strict restrictions in IOK is a question mark on the world’s largest democracy. Also India’s growing bellicosity embedded in its strong military buildup along the Working Boundary coupled with the cross-border firing across the Line of Control and human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir is a moment of ruthless truth of India’s growing belligerence in region.


The emerging dynamics has demonstrated  the reality that Modi’s anti-Pakistan’s credentials, its plans for demographic changes in IOK and intensified extremist violence against minorities were not the part of electoral artifices but a matter of RSS and BJP’s extremist vision of Hindu nationalism. It is unfortunate that Pakistan’s policy makers viewed BJP’s manifesto as just another political stunt to bolster its electoral prospects and gain maximum votes in 2019 general election.


Now, it is widely acknowledged that India’s move of scraping the article 370 is illegal and unconstitutional and Pakistan took numerous steps on bilateral and international level including “informal consultations” of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Jammu & Kashmir.  In this regard the question arises if Pakistan’s strategy is effective to mobilize international community? And what measures should be taken to compel the world to pressure India to address the Kashmir dispute?


India is using the terrorism bogey to divert the attention of international community from the grim reality in IOK, aiming to negate the freedom struggle of Kashmiris and their right of self-determination. PM Imran has already stated that “Pakistan not only opposes all such activities but has also increased vigilance to prevent militants from taking advantage of the situation.” Nonetheless, the right of self-determination must not be coupled with terrorism. Pakistan should not withdraw from its principle stance that Kashmiri’s struggle is for attaining right of self-determination.


According to experts, Pakistan may activate the international community on the human right violation and subjugation of Kashmiri people through it effective diplomacy but geo-political interests will remain a defining factor of the major powers’ policy toward India and Kashmir.  Consequently, Pakistan should take following measures to effectively pursue Kashmir’s case:


First, while formulating the strategy at national level, government officials should avoid pouring out words on everything, because concrete and mature strategy is clear understanding of the prevailing dynamics that don’t require unnecessary statements just for the political limelight.


Second, aggressive diplomacy is sustainable policy to gain the support of international community; special efforts should be made to gain the support of major powers including Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia, and particularly the five permanent members of the UNSC.


Third, U.S. and India share special bond being the oldest and the ‘so called’ largest democracies of the world. The illegal changes made in Indian constitution regarding the special status of Indian Occupied Kashmir have put questions on its democratic and pluralistic features.  India’s “undemocratic” decision of revocation of Article 370 has ability to endanger the moral standing of so called largest democracy, in the U.S. Therefore, the bilateral relations between India and U.S. can be regarded in terms of a strategic partner only, because liberal democracies may become suspicious regarding the India’s undemocratic move taken in IOK.  In this regard, Pakistan should mobilize the Kashmiri diaspora living abroad to gain the support  of democratic party members by highlighting the Indian political terrorism and suffering of ordinary Kashmiris -as a violation of human rights, UNSC resolution and values of democracy.


Fourth, PM Imran Khan’s meeting is scheduled with president Trump on 23 September and will address the UN General Assembly on 27 September 2019.  Pakistan must use these two occasions to highlight the sufferings of Kashmiri people.  Being the ambassador of Kashmir, a role assumed by the prime minister, the focus should be on horrifying human rights and illegal Indian annexation of the Valley. It will be the right time to present concrete proposals at the world’s most powerful international forum for action of international community.


To conclude, to ensure their survival and identity, the Kashmiri people have only one option and that is to resist against Indian occupation. Kashmir demands aggressive diplomacy to project Kashmir issue at all level including international and regional organizations and in this regard UNSC is the best forum to present Kashmir’s case.


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