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Pakistan and future of Kashmir cause

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Kashmir issue the bone of contention between India and Pakistan since the independence of the two countries. The seeds of the discord were sown by the British colonisers through the unfair division of the subcontinent. For Kashmir remains a fundamental and unresolved issue, the two countries have fought wars in 1965, 1971, Kargil conflict. The recent Pulwama incident has led them to the dangerous confrontation. Due to these challenges, Kashmir issue would remain integral part of Pakistan’s future course of action.
Due to the short-sightedness of the Boundary Commission, Kashmir issue remains unresolved and a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. The Boundary Commission, which was set-up to divide India and Pakistan, could not resolve the Kashmir issue partially due to the biasness of then viceroy Lord Mountbatten. Consequently, it led to the first Indo-Pakistan war of 1948. After the independence of Azad Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession with the government of India against the wishes of Kashmiri population. Additionally, then Indian Prime Minister Nehru took the Kashmir dispute to the United Nations. The Security Council passed a resolution for plebiscite so that the residents of the valley could decide to which state they want to be part of. Indian state not only flouted these resolutions, but also stripped the Kashmir’s autonomous status on August 5, 2019.
Owing to Kashmir’s strategic location, Pakistan’s security is interlinked with the future of Kashmir. Kashmir region lies adjacent to India, China and Pakistan. Hostile India may create security challenges for Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC). Recently, India has been building massive infrastructure projects of offensive nature. These huge undertakings may pose security threats to Pakistan in future. In this regard, Darbuk-Shyok Daulat Beg Oldie bridge particularly poses gigantic security challenges which India may use for troops’ mobilisation.
Moreover, the offensive infrastructure may also choke the CPEC route. If the hostilities will be ratcheted up in future, India can disrupt the route which is vulnerable to Indian attacks as it lies hardly 18 kilometres from Ladakh region. Hence, India may resort to blackmailing in future.
Water, which is the source of survival for Pakistan, may also be threatened by the eastern neighbour. All the rivers that are flowing into Pakistan are originating from Tibet and Ladakh region may also be diverted by Indian, whenever the clashes between the two states are ramped up. Prime Minister Modi has already threatened Pakistan that they will divert the river waters and turn Pakistan into a barren land. Thus, Pakistan is vulnerable to Indian attacks from multiple fronts.
Against the backdrop of traditional and non-traditional security threats faced by Pakistan, its foreign policy is directed in view of Kashmir cause. Therefore, Pakistan’s security and foreign policies are interlinked. Kashmir issue is an important pillar of the foreign policy with an aim to highlight the atrocities perpetrated in held-Kashmir by the Indian forces. Furthermore, Pakistan also seeks cooperation from the friendly states and to convince the permanent members of the security council for implementation of the resolutions on Kashmir.
Due to the above-mentioned factors, the future of Kashmir remains central to Pakistan. Although the post-August 5 status quo, which stripped the autonomous status of Kashmir, would prevail because of the international changing power dynamics. Since India is one of the biggest consumer markers in the world, human rights violations in the valley remain ignored from the agenda of the permanent members of the Security Council. These countries want to offend India rather they want to give precedence to their economies ties over the human rights of Kashmiris.
On the other side, Pakistan can neither militarily intervene in held-Kashmir, nor provide logistical support to the freedom fighters. India is far more powerful than Pakistan militarily as well as economically. Therefore, Pakistan cannot sustain conventional war with India. For instance, Indian economy’s worth is estimated to be $1.2 trillion whereas Pakistan’s economy’s worth is $264 billion. It is also important to keep in view that Pakistan has a debt burden of 88 percent of GDP. As a result, India can sustain limited war below the nuclear threshold for indefinite time, but Pakistan cannot.
Pakistan also should not support any armed struggle in Kashmir. The Kashmir cause has already suffered tremendous loss at the international level due to the armed resistance which India portrayed as terrorism. After the Pulwama attack that led to 45 casualties of Indian soldiers, it was condemned by the international community as “terrorism”. Hence, violent resistance will create credibility challenges for the legitimate freedom movement.
Such an adventure will also create problems for Pakistan as well. In the wake of Pulwama incident, the dogfight between the two air forces led to the shot down of two Indian fighter planes. Subsequently, that situation created bitter atmosphere and both the countries had moved further on the escalation trajectory. Prime Minister Imran Khan while announcing the release of Abhinandan said, “India was to carry out missile attacks on the Pakistan soil”.Fortunately, that catastrophe was prevented due to the backdoor diplomacy.
Pakistan has consistently reiterated its commitment to keep reminding to the international community of its responsibilities on Kashmir. The country will be highlighting the plight of Kashmiris at the multilateral forums such as the United Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, SAARC, OIC, etc. On the occasion of anniversary of stripped autonomous status of Indian-held Kashmir, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi emphasised that the Pakistani diplomatic missions will keep highlighting the Kashmir issue through the diplomatic channels, documentaries and contributing articles in the respective countries.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Imran Khan assured that will be the ambassador of Kashmir cause. The prime minister has time and again highlighted the plight of innocent Kashmiris at the international forums, public speeches, and address to the global community.
Pakistan will continue to support Kashmiris’ inalienable right of self-determination which is indeed in sync with the UN charter. The issue could not be resolved bilaterally as agreed upon in the Shimla Agreement which says, “Pending final settlement neither side shall unilaterally alter the present situation”. Pakistan is left with no option except to internationalise the Kashmir issue. Through this recourse, Pakistan should emphasise that this unresolved issue may trigger the third world war that neither country can sustain keeping in the nuclear stockpiles of the two countries. Thus, the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue should be accorded the top-most priority by the international community.
Kashmir enigma is very complex issue since its emergence. Therefore, Pakistan should continue to extend its diplomatic support for its right of self-determination. However, keeping in view the changing power dynamics and international security environment after the 9/11, any support to terror outfits in held-Kashmir will be inimical to the right of self-determination. Thus, only diplomatic support should be extended.
In order to gain global sympathies, Pakistan should develop strategic communication mechanism for highlighting abuses of human rights in Kashmir. On the pretext of terrorism, India has used ruthless force against the innocent Kashmiri youth. Though the use of pellet guns is banned, India has resorted to it which led to permanent disabilities of the victims. Pakistan has to highlight these violations at the global stage in such a way that they are impactful and generate sympathetic response for the Kashmiri struggle.
Pakistan should portray it as a humanitarian rather than geographical issue. If the strategy is not correctly employed, it will send a signal that Pakistan is interested in achieving geographical portion from the held-Kashmir and it is indifferent to the atrocities of Kashmiri population. Thus, it should focus on the humanitarian catastrophe of the held-region. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are under the lockdown since August 5, 2019 with communication blackout. The Genocide Watch has expressed its concerns and declared the situation close to genocide. Similarly, there is presence of 900,000 Indian troops with the valley for a population of 8 million which is close to one soldier for every 8 Kashmiris. This further terrorises the populace who are under the illegal occupation since 1947.
As the prime minster Imran Khan has repeatedly deplored that the Hindutva ideology, which is inspired from the Nazism, seeks to subdue other religious minorities. This should be the pillar of internationalisation of Kashmir strategy on the part of the Pakistani leadership. They have to created subtly create interlinkage between Hindutva and Nazism, plan and execute it at the diplomatic arena.
The BJP-led Indian government is Hindu-supremacist dispensation which has thrived by peddling anti-Muslims sentiments. It can be further substantiated by other similar moves by the BJP-government such as the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizenship, etc. Moreover, RSS has been given a free-hand to exterminate other minorities living in India. Hence, Kashmiri population is faced with a risk of systemic pogrom under the Nazi-inspired BJP government.
In the end, Kashmir is a fundamental problem between India and Pakistan. Without its resolution in view of the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, this region will remain volatile and peace will be distant dream. Because of Kashmir’s unresolved status, it also poses existential security challenges for Pakistan which includes traditional and non-traditional security threats. However, Pakistan ought to organize massive diplomatic offensive to the Kashmir issue afresh at the international diplomatic stage. This strategy should only focus on the humanitarian crisis in the held-Kashmir coupled with the unimplemented resolutions of the UN’s Security Council.