Pakistan has a vested interest in Kashmir because it keeps the state pot boiling and gives it a fanciful hope that one day the government of India will be so tired of it all that it will hand over Kashmir to it. Nursing such illusion keeps the otherwise fragile state of Pakistan united….writes Abdul Rasheed Khan
Efforts by Srinagar and Delhi to restore peace in the Valley will not succeed as long as Pakistan is able to execute its evil designs in Jammu & Kashmir with the help of its proxies. An alternative way could be to spot elements who are genuinely for peace, have sufficient following and are willing to sit down for detailed talks with the authorities.
It may take time to find an effective alternative to the self-styled Kashmiri leaders who blindly follow the Pakistani agenda. In a nebulous form it was visible when the all-party delegation of Indian parliamentarians was in Srinagar. It has been reported that the all-party delegation –representing 20 parties–was able to talk to nearly 300 Kashmiris from various walks of life—fruit growers, teachers, intellectuals and so on.
It is quite possible that most of these representatives were handpicked by the authorities. But the fact that nearly 300 of them could be gathered for talking to the visiting delegation, despite the opposition from the separatists and their ilk, does give rise to some hope.
It is not known what feedback was given by this motley crowd of 300 Kashmiris. But some suggestions worthy of follow up must have surely cropped up. One idea they must have floated would have been an appeal to the government and other authorities to do something urgently to bring peace and order in order to keep the state’s economy in reasonable shape.
Pakistan has from the start been behind the violence and unrest in Jammu and Kashmir—from stone-inciting pelting crowds to acts of terror and sabotage. It has a vested interest because it keeps the Kashmir pot boiling and gives it a fanciful hope that one day the government of India will be so tired of it all that it will hand over Kashmir to it. Nursing such illusion keeps the otherwise fragile state of Pakistan united.
No matter how ‘grave’ the situation in Kashmir, it cannot be said that continuous violence and unrest finds universal support as it deeply disturbs the daily lives of ordinary people. It is for the authorities to cultivate the peace-loving section of the population without—and this is important—giving the impression that it is part of a ‘divide and rule’ policy. What it will require at the first instance is that any parleys with the citizens who want peace should be held away from the glare of publicity.
It can be anticipated easily that the peace-loving citizens would urge for a review of the security presence in the state, particularly in the valley. That should not appear to be an insurmountable problem because a ‘piecemeal’ reduction in the presence of the security forces has been discussed in the past.
A related issue is about the Armed Forces Special Powers Act which is said to have created fear in the minds of the ordinary people who feel it is widely abused to harass them. This is indeed a delicate subject because the government cannot overnight scrap AFSPA. What may be possible is diluting its use without compromising security.
But the government of India has also to start doing something it has not done in the past: educating the world—as well as the domestic audience—about the facts of the so-called Jammu and Kashmir ‘dispute’. How and why India took it to the UN and what were the terms of the UN resolution and the all-important fact that the UN resolution on Kashmir plebiscite was not binding as Pakistan had gone back on its commitments to the UN.
The legal status of Pakistan’s annexation of Balochistan must also be brought to focus internationally with the help of Baloch nationals living in exile. The oppressive nature of Pakistani rule in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is well documented. It needs to be displayed before the world. If some people see it as a ‘tit-for-tat’ policy by India, so be it.
By devoting all its resources and energies on a vigorous anti-India propaganda, Pakistan has gone on an overdrive to keep its shadows continuously falling over the valley. But Delhi need not waste its time over thinking too much about these foolish efforts of the Pakistanis. If they have eyes and ears they would have already seen that their hi-fi anti-India chorus has failed to make any stirrings. It has become a battle of wits as noted Pakistani commentator, M Zeb Khan wrote in The News International, from the Jung stable on Sept 13. But he notes that “Pakistan faces dilemma in selling itself to the outside world. The Foreign Office either lacks the capacity or the will or both to steer the country out of the quagmire of isolation it has stuck in for so long. From Kashmir to nuclear proliferation to the war on terrorism, very few – if at all – are prepared to believe Pakistan’s narrative”.
This is a view shared by veteran diplomat, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, who had held the Pakistani flag during difficult times in the Indian capital. “Pakistan’s policy towards Kashmir (and Afghanistan) is a metaphor for its governance at home. They are dysfunctional”, he frankly conceded in an op-ed piece in Dawn. He went on to write: “We have tried shorter-term Kashmir solutions ranging from diplomacy to dialogue to violence. They all failed as have our several short-lived policies towards human rights protections, human resource development, socio-economic development, security, corruption, counterterrorism, institutional reform, etc. There are hardly any international takers today for Pakistan’s case on Kashmir and other issues”.
Naturally therefore, the Pakistan efforts to highlight the situation in Kashmir are doomed but it does not mean that they will give up stirring trouble. Pakistanis have been skeptical about the team of 22 parliamentarians that the Nawaz Sharif government has sent across the globe to talk about Kashmir. These lawmaker- diplomats lack of knowledge about Kashmir was exposed within Pakistan itself.
The selection of destinations for this delegation was laughable because none of the countries on the itinerary was willing to endorse Pakistani stand on Kashmir. The ‘all-weather’ friend China as well as traditional friends in the Muslim world like Saudi Arabia and Turkey also failed to rally behind Pakistan.
The West has for been disenchanted of Pakistan ever since its double face was exposed during the Afghan war. If anything, Pakistan’s image as the prime centre of terror has been consolidated in the West. The US has repeated for the sixth time ‘do more’ mantra on the Haqqani front this past month to the discomfiture of Rawalpindi Shura. Yet, Pakistan hopes to drum up support against India and will not give up its nefarious games in Kashmir.
Its current anti-India tirade is linked to the killing of a Hizbul Mujahideen member, a 22-year-old youth who has been described by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a ‘martyr’. The world might mourn the loss of life of a young man but his association with a certified militant organisation does not make him a ‘martyr’.