Sultan M Hali
Various regimes in Pakistan, both military and civil have continued to express solidarity with the inhabitants of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) from the tyranny of India, with every trick in the book; war in 1947-48, when Indian troops illegally occupied Kashmir; Operation Gibraltar â€“ the ill planned and poorly executed military operation â€“ which became the precursor of the 1965 Pakistan-India War, the 1971 Pak-India War and later the Kargil misadventure. Unfortunately none of these changed the horror being meted out to the hapless Kashmiris at the hands of Indian security forces. Various draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA), Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) were introduced by the Indian government to give unbridled powers to Indian Army and Police to murder, rape, loot and incarcerate innocent Kashmiris. With Narendra Modiâ€™s government in 2014, the fate of IOK became a foregone conclusion to be amalgamated with India. The hardliner Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) operative and self confessed terror monger, Modi, assumed the mantle of Indiaâ€™s Prime Minister with an agenda regarding Kashmir based on a multi-pronged strategy: sweeping IOK polls, repealing Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir and annexing it to India; changing the demography; weakening and denigrating Pakistan so it can no longer provide even diplomatic support to the Kashmiris.Failing to secure the requisite seats in Jammu Kashmir elections, Modi launched a fresh reign of terror in IOK. On July 8, 2016, popular young Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani was brutally gunned down. When Kashmiri youth came out in the streets to mourn their slain leader and protest against the politically motivated assassination, hundreds of young boys have been martyred while thousands have been blinded because the India law enforcing agencies have resorted to the use of pellet guns on their faces. To browbeat Pakistan, India has tried to paint Pakistan as a sponsor of terrorism and has moved numerous motions in the UN and other international forums and has refused to accept Pakistanâ€™s numerous invitations for peace talks. To add insult to injury, India boycotted the Commonwealth Speakersâ€™ Summit, being hosted by Pakistan, on the plea that the Speaker of the IOK Legislative Assembly was not extended an invitation. Pakistan had taken a principled stand, since IOK is under illegal Indian occupation and part of a disputed territory and unfinished agenda of the 1947 Partition of Indian Subcontinent. Extending formal invitation to the Commonwealth Speakersâ€™ Summit would have been tantamount to recognising Indiaâ€™s false claims on IOK. India also scuttled the SAARC Summit scheduled to be held at Islamabad and coerced some other members like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka to stay away, in a bid to isolate Pakistan.To make matters worse, India has now staked claims on Azad Jammu Kashmir (the portion liberated by Pakistan in 1947-48) and Gilgit Baltistan and is demanding their â€œreturnâ€ to India â€“ a contravention of the UN Resolutions on Kashmir, which stipulate that a UN sponsored plebiscite be carried out to enable the Kashmiris to decide whether they seek accession to India or Pakistan. India has prevented any plebiscite to be held because it knows that the majority Muslim population of Kashmir will vote in favour of Pakistan.India has been violating the 2003 Ceasefire Agreement with Pakistan. It has executed odious plots of seditions, sabotage and insurgency in Balochistan, Jammu Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and even in Karachi to twist Pakistanâ€™s arm and subjugate it into withdrawing its support for the Kashmiris. To add impetus to its conspiracies, India has contemplated using its false flag operations as an excuse for using brute force against Pakistan. Its development of the â€œCold Start Strategyâ€, jacking up its defence budget way beyond its genuine defence needs, acquiring weapons of mass destruction but blackballing Pakistanâ€™s nuclear programme are steps in the same direction. Each time, India has contemplated surgical strikes against Pakistan; it has met with stiff resistance or has been thwarted by Pakistanâ€™s vigilance and state of preparedness to defend its land, sea and aerial frontiers.Barrack Obama was keen to nudge India into holding peace talks with Pakistan but clearly leaned towards India since it is a big market for US defence goods and services and is willing to act as a bulwark against the rise of China, which is perceived as a threat by both US and India.Modi has not shied away from issuing threats of rescinding the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) of 1960, block Pakistanâ€™s waters and desertify its lush green fields. It has already planned and executed numerous dams and hydro power stations, which breach the parameters laid down in the IWT. Unfortunately, owing to poor presentation of its cases, Pakistan has failed so far to convince either international bodies like the International Court of Justice or the World Bank, which was a guarantor of the IWT.In this bleak backdrop, Pakistanâ€™s policymakers have to seriously plan their exterior maneuver and employ the tools of diplomacy effectively otherwise not only the fates of the Kashmiris will be sealed to suffer forever the ignominy of oppressive Indian rule but also Pakistan may become isolated and declared a pariah and failing state. Modiâ€™s fresh courtship with the new US President Donald Trump and his penchant for shunning Muslims and wooing India is understandable but Pakistan has to evolve a strategy to survive as well as support Kashmir. So far it is only China, which has stood by Pakistan and saved it from virtual isolation as well as adoption of anti-Pakistan verdicts in international organisations.
Pakistan needs to build its case more diligently to prove to the world that it is not a sponsor of terrorism. Donald Trump is at the end of the day, a businessman, who bases his decisions on balance sheets and profit loss statements. It should be made amply clear to Trump that unless the flashpoint of the Kashmir issue is diffused and resolved amicably, nuclear weapons equipped India and Pakistan face the clear and present danger of a conflict which can endanger the entire region. All of US enterprises, investments and ventures in India will come to naught in case of Indian belligerence and adventurism against Pakistan. It is to Trumpâ€™s advantage if the Kashmir issue is settled and peace returns to the Indo-Pak Subcontinent.