Pakistan’s Theatrics On Kashmir – OpEd

As Pakistan observes what it refers to as ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ yet once again, some hard questions stare you in the face. The first one is that if Islamabad’s so confident of its Kashmir narrative being as sound as insists it is, then why is it merely posturing instead of asserting itself in seeking a permanent resolution of this seven-and-a-half-decade issue? However, Islamabad has never ever provided any answer to this basic question, and one can bet his bottom dollar that it never will- because despite its oft repeated “principled stand on Kashmir” claim, Pakistan is actually on an extremely weak wicket on this issue.

While Pakistan makes a big show of its commitment in seeking a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with UN resolutions, it has consistently demonstrated brazen contempt towards the same. Consequently, Islamabad has itself scuttled whatever little scope there was to plead its case on the basis of UN resolutions on Kashmir. Islamabad keeps invoking UN resolution 47 to contend that J&K is “disputed territory,” and demands plebiscite in J&K as mentioned in this resolution. It also accuses New Delhi of playing the villain by refusing to implement UN resolutions on Kashmir. However, the reality on ground is just the opposite.

It’s not India’s obduracy, but Pakistan’s refusal to fulfil its commitment in facilitating implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir, coupled with unilateral actions that flout these resolutions, which are to blame. To comprehend the severity of Islamabad’s falsehood and machinations in order to promote its self-serving interests at the cost of gullible people of Kashmir, it’s necessary to examine UN resolution 47, which Pakistan is so fond of invoking at the drop of the hat. This resolution does mention holding plebiscite, but clearly lays down certain specific pre-requisites, the implementation of which are mandatory before the plebiscite process can be started.

The first such pre-requisite directs that “The Government of Pakistan should undertake to use its best endeavours:

(a) To secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting, and to prevent any intrusion into the State of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the State;
(b) To make known to all concerned that the measures indicated in this and the following paragraphs provide full freedom to all subjects of the State, regardless of creed, caste, or party, to express their views and to vote on the question of the accession of the State, and that therefore they should co-operate in the maintenance of peace and order.”

However, Pakistan hasn’t undertaken withdrawal of its nationals from Pakistan occupied Kashmir [PoK] till date, thereby outrightly violating the first mandatory precondition for holding of plebiscite. This monumental failure on Islamabad’s part is the main reason why it has to restrict itself to theatrics like observing ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ annually and ‘Kashmir Solidarity Hour’ weekly, instead of demanding decisive action on this issue. Islamabad’s arrogance stems from the fact that while its proxies like All Parties Hurriyat Conference [APHC] never allow this issue to come to the forefront, Rawalpindi’s ‘strategic assets’ [read-terrorists’] ensure that those raising such awkward questions are intimidated into silence! Resultantly, majority of Kashmiris remain blissfully unaware of Pakistan’s gross duplicity on the Kashmir issue.

The second precondition that Islamabad is required to fulfil before plebiscite is held is to provide “full freedom to all subjects of the State [PoK]… to express their views and to vote on the question of the accession of the State.” Here again Pakistan it is a defaulter as Section 7[3] AJ&K [PoK] Interim Constitution, 1974, states that “No person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to, the ideology of the State’s accession to Pakistan.” This draconian diktat has two extremely serious implications:

One, if J&K is indeed “disputed territory” as Islamabad maintains, then this itself renders the issue of PoK’s so called “accession to Pakistan” illegal.
Two, when going against ideology of the so called “accession” of PoK with Pakistan is constitutionally proscribed, then how can residents of PoK be considered as being free “to express their views and to vote on the question of the accession of the State”?  

It’s common knowledge that claimants of any asset which is under dispute have no ownership rights over the same. However, let’s just for the sake of discussion, accept Pakistan’s contention that J&K is “disputed territory.” Even in this scenario, how does Islamabad justify handing over of the more than 5,000 square km sized Shaksgam Valley [which is very much part of J&K] to China in 1963? Not only this, how has Islamabad unilaterally allowed China to undertake infrastructural development projects under CPEC in what itself claims is “disputed territory”? This is another reason why all that Pakistan can do about Kashmir is just make a lot of noise!

Next comes Pakistan’s professed commitment seeking peaceful resolution of the ‘K’ issue as per UN resolutions. If it genuinely believes so, then why did Pakistan still embark upon a military campaign [Operation Gibraltar] in 1965 to seize Kashmir by force? By doing so, Pakistan flagrantly violated the relevant UN resolutions and hence lost the moral right to both pontificate on the same or demand its implementation. Even if one magnanimously condones Pakistan’s 1965 perfidy as an aberration, how can its malevolent Kargil misadventure of 1999 ever be justified?

Most importantly, how can state sponsored terrorism being patronised by Pakistan in J&K ever be overlooked? Islamabad may refute it, but can it deny the fact that all terrorist groups fighting in J&K are based in Pakistan, which obviously can’t be just a coincidence? Similarly, can Islamabad deny that all major terrorist groups operating in J&K have been proscribed by most of the powerful and influential members of the international community? Can Islamabad deny that the main reason it continues to languish on Financial Action Task Force’s ‘grey list’ and the world doesn’t want to touch Kashmir with a barge pole is largely because Rawalpindi continues to support such terrorist groups?

Finally, a word for the people of Kashmir who have believed and trusted Pakistan for too long- it’s now high time to ask questions as well as introspect. Some questions begging answers are-

If Kashmir really is under ‘illegal occupation’ of India, why hasn’t the UN or international community taken New Delhi to task? Additionally, why hasn’t Islamabad taken up the issue of illegal occupation with International Court of Justice?
If abrogation of Article 370 was illegal and violated UN resolutions on Kashmir, then why didn’t UNSC intervene? Furthermore, why did UNSC refuse to specifically discuss this issue?
If Pakistan really wants Kashmir to be resolved peacefully in accordance with UN resolutions, then why is it supporting militancy in Kashmir, which is causing immense hardship to the common Kashmiri?  
If Islamabad’s stand on Kashmir is right and principled, then why did Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi warn his countrymen even before the UNSC meet on Kashmir that “You should not in live fool’s paradise. Nobody will be standing there (in UNSC) with garlands in hands…nobody will be there waiting for you”?    

The people of Kashmir need to realise that despite all its sweet talk and public show of solidarity, Pakistan is merely using them as pawns in its ongoing dispute with India, and as such, expecting Islamabad to deliver on its promises is a tall order!