Kashmir is an apple of discord between the two nuclear neighbours in South Asia that have been locking horns over the dispute ever since the partition of the subcontinent. In 1947-48, 1965 and 1999, Jammu and Kashmir became the main reason of military hostilities between India and Pakistan. Importantly, the dispute remains a nuclear flash-point which might lead to a terrible Indo-Pak war that might escalate beyond the Nuclear threshold. It is therefore, a challenge not just for India and Pakistan to look at, but for the entire International community to make efforts for the resolution of the dispute. Unfortunately, India’s obstinacy and Pakistan’s inefficient diplomacy in this regard has been a major obstacle in projection of Kashmir to the world.
Pakistan commemorates February 5 as Kashmir Day, in solidarity with Kashmiri brethren facing brutal suppression of their UN sanctified freedom movement at the hands of Indian forces in the occupied territory. However, the Islamic Republic has not been able to advocate the case convincingly, owing to its failure to conduct proactive diplomacy in this regard. In order to project Kashmir convincingly, the old-fashion rhetorical diplomacy of Pakistan needs to be transformed into real diplomacy, while taking into account the prerequisites of the twenty-first century.
Pakistan terms Kashmir an ‘unfinished agenda of the partition held in 1947′. In contrast to the Indian narrative, it maintains that Kashmir is not a bilateral issue since it involves sheer violation of human rights and forms an outstanding agenda item of the United Nations Security Council. It argues that It was India which brought the issue in the United Nations, hence internationalising the dispute, leading to UN resolutions. Pakistan calls for implementation of the UN resolution which prescribed a free and impartial plebiscite to decide the future of the state. However, Pakistan’s legitimate standing to put forward this demand is, to a great extent, gets hit by Simla Agreement held between Pakistan and India in 1972 in which the country has agreed to resolution of all issues through direct bilateral approaches. But since the Simla Agreement does not condition resolution of all issues by exclusively bilateral means, i.e. the clause that mention bilateral direct approaches does not restrict Pakistan to conduct multi-lateral diplomacy if bilateral dialogue fails to bear fruit.
Pakistan calls for implementation of the UN resolution which prescribed a free and impartial plebiscite to decide the future of the state
After 1972, Kashmir was not really on the agenda up until 1990s when Pakistan started pouring assistance for militants, not only indigenous but Pakistani too, in Kashmir. Since 2004, Pakistan’s focus has been diplomatic front which includes speeches delivered in UN and various statements regarding Kashmir but to no avail. Not only India started suppressing the freedom movement more brazenly but the International Community also became deafer. Pakistan’s focus has been on the implementation of UN resolutions but the advocacy translates little into something productive for Kashmir as the International community is sceptical of autonomous status of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.
Are We Clear?
There is a lack of clarity of objectives on Pakistan’s side as to what exactly needs to be achieved regarding Kashmir. As discussed earlier, the case Pakistan presents to world rests upon UN resolutions but since 2004, Pakistan’s focus is the human rights violations in Kashmir which is an indirect approach to the withdrawal of Indian troops. India does not agree on Kashmir being a dispute and tells the world that the unrest in valley is an insurgency started in 1989 and hides the illegal occupation by invading in 1947, while Pakistan remains unsure of stitching the two dimensions of the dispute.
Power corridors in Pakistan have been witnessing confusion on how to convince the world of their stance on Kashmir after Simla Agreement 1972. The confusion at home is a big factor in the inefficiency seen in projection of the Kashmir cause to the world by Pakistan. The Islamic Republic needs to form a grand strategy for Kashmir whose focus should be withdrawal of Indian troops from the occupied territory. For that, it must convince the world of its own commitment to the UN resolution for which agreeing to allow UN Human Rights Committees the inspection of its side of the disputed territory is not sufficient.
The confusion at home is a big factor in the inefficiency seen in projection of the Kashmir cause to the world by Pakistan.
Seriousness on Kashmir
A serious question mark is posed over Pakistan government’s seriousness on advocating Kashmir. Notwithstanding the fact that almost all major political parties list Kashmir as a top priority in their foreign policy goals, none, when in the government, made substantial efforts in this regard. Pervez Musharraf withdrew support to Kashmiri freedom fighters but successfully decoupled the latter from terrorism but Asif Zardari’s tenure was a new low in Pakistan’s support for Kashmir as the then president went as far as calling the freedom fighters ‘terrorists’. Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N), during its government, poured complete support for the Kashmir cause but not beyond rhetoric.
The seriousness of the past governments is further exposed when we look into the appointment of ministers of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan. During PPP’s government, Mian Manzoor Watoo became the minister of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, later the charge was given to Qamar Zaman Qaira and then Abdur Raziq, finally it fell back to Watoo during Raja Pervez Ashraf’s tenure. In 2008, A Special Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir was formed which was headed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The head enjoyed the status and privileges of Federal Minister but played no role in advocating Kashmir cause. In fact, under Fazlur Rehman, the Kashmir Committee went to a state of non-existence in practicality.
Current Prime Minister Imran Khan has appointed Ali Amin Gandapur as the minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan. Gandapur, like his previous counterparts, has no link with Kashmir, neither appears interested in highlighting Kashmir or advocating for its cause.
Back to the Drawing Board
Pakistani government does not have a grand strategy to project Kashmir Internationally. Pakistan must return to the drawing board and come up with a vision to sincerely and efficiently advocate Kashmir’s cause.
First, Pakistan needs to clarify its foreign policy goals regarding Kashmir by coming out of confusion. It is not just the human rights issue that needs to be hit but the root cause as well, which is the illegal occupation since 1947. As mentioned above, Pakistan’s core objective is not to stop human rights violations in Kashmir but force India to withdraw its troops so that a free and impartial plebiscite could be held under UN resolution. The priorities must be set as such.
It is not just the human rights issue that needs to be hit but the root cause as well, which is the illegal occupation since 1947.
Second, Pakistan must have complete locus standi to demand the implementation of UN resolution 1949 in Kashmir. A para of the resolution deals with withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the disputed territory which Pakistan has not fulfilled till now. Pakistan Army personnel remain deployed in Pakistan controlled Kashmir which is a factor that damages Pakistan’s legitimacy. The security of Pakistan Controlled Kashmir should not be in the hands of Pakistan army but the army of Azad Kashmir, an institution that hitherto does not exist. After deployment of relevant number of troops from Azad Kashmir’s forces, Pakistan Army should withdraw from the territory, granting control to the newly established indigenous military force of the autonomous region.
The security of Pakistan Controlled Kashmir should not be in the hands of Pakistan army but the army of Azad Kashmir
Third, The spheres of operation of Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir and Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan need to be well-defined. Pakistan is in dire need of appointing a relevant person as the minister of Kashmir Affairs who not only understands the case himself/herself well but specialises in it. Both the bodies should be tasked with portraying Kashmir cause both at home and abroad when necessary. In other words, we need to activate the two bodies and hold them accountable If we are to achieve some progress.
The spheres of operation of Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir and Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan need to be well-defined.
Fourth, Pakistan needs lobbying for Kashmir at which it is currently very inefficient. The Foreign Office has failed to produce desired results in garnering support abroad for Pakistan’s Kashmir case. On the other hand, India, despite feeling the heat for extreme brutalities in occupied Kashmir, is conducting a proactive diplomacy to mask the bloodbath in valley by an Iron Curtain. Pakistan needs to influence International Community and for that, the ambassadors across the globe need to be tasked with the agenda of garnering support for Kashmir in the host country’s power corridors. Literature needs to be distributed in the host country’s spheres of academia and intelligentsia in local languages to highlight the atrocities committed by the Indian forces in suppression of Kashmir’s freedom movement.
Pakistan needs to influence International Community and for that, the ambassadors across the globe need to be tasked with the agenda of garnering support for Kashmir in the host country’s power corridors.
ٖFifth, Pakistan government needs to entice film makers to make films on Kashmir cause. At least one film in a year needs to be released relevant to Kashmir in which the plight of Kashmiris at the hand of Indian forces and their struggle for right to self-determination would be highlighted for audience both at home and abroad. Films play an important role in shaping public opinion and in Pakistan’s case, it is important to show the public what Pakistan wants to achieve in Kashmir, i.e. withdrawal of Indian troops.
At least one film every year should be released to highlight the plight of Kashmiri brethren.
Lastly, Kashmir Solidarity day needs to go beyond speeches and statements. Pakistan needs to organise International Kashmir Conference in the country every year on February 5, inviting ambassadors of various countries, a delegation of Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), representatives of United Nations, human right committees as well as chairpersons of all political and religious parties of the country. This conference would present Pakistan’s case to the entire world in the most efficient manner with speakers from Pakistan’s intelligentsia and academia, particularly those who specialise in Kashmir’s case. The transcript of all speeches and presentations would then compiled, translated and distributed to various countries.
Pakistan needs to organise International Kashmir Conference in the country every year on February 5
Projecting Kashmir like Never Before
The biggest problem in projecting Kashmir until now has been the lack of seriousness in the power corridors of the country. Pakistan needs to clarify its objectives on Kashmir. It needs to have complete locus standi to advocate Kashmir as per the UN Resolution. For that, It should consider withdrawing its own personnel from Kashmir, granting control to indigenous military by establishing one in the first place. It needs to intensify diplomatic lobbying for Kashmir along with producing relevant literature and films to project Kashmir to the world. With that, the Kashmir day needs to go beyond a public holiday and official efforts should be made including the organisation of an International Conference on Kashmir to highlight Indian atrocities as much as we can to the world.
To lure the world to pay attention to our case, we must first pay our own full attention to it. Kashmir is a solid case and Pakistan needs to do justice with it so that a hundred thousand lives lost in the struggle for the rightful cause of freedom for Kashmir do not go in vain. Occupied Kashmir cannot communicate to the world on itself owing to brutal Indian suppression. The only country that can project its voice is Pakistan. This reality is well understood in the occupied Kashmir and this is the main reason why Pakistani flag remains the symbol of resistance against Indian Occupation for more than 70 years. All eyes on Pakistan, It must not let Kashmir down.