Two days after Kashmir Solidarity Day was observed nationwide, Pakistan’s Kashmir policy came in for considerable criticism from various politicians and foreign policy wonks with some admitting to a fatigue in the nation’s diplomacy.
There was near unanimity on ‘The Kashmir Issue’ — organised by the Foreign Office-backed Institute of Strategic Studies — about the harm done to the policy by former President Pervez Musharraf, particularly the Kargil War and the decision to look for a solution outside the U.N. resolutions.
According to Khurram Dastgir Khan of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) — a party that has several Kashmiri-origin people in its leadership — Pakistan’s diplomacy seems to have developed fatigue on Kashmir. “There is no fresh thinking.” And, after the 9/11 attacks and the attack on Indian Parliament, Kashmir has not found much sympathy within the international community which “seems tired of us when we mention Kashmir”. Saying his party favoured improving relations with India, Mr. Dastgir said all outstanding issues ought to be addressed simultaneously.
Further, the best way to get the international community to engage with the issue would be by highlighting the ‘human rights violations’ by India — be it the abuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA); the misuse of the Public Safety Act; censorship in the Valley or the mass graves.
Second class citizens
Awami National Party’s Haji Adeel set the cat among the pigeons by asking why anyone would want to merge with Pakistan when fundamentalists are killing people with impunity; people of Balochistan want to break away and industries are shifting to Bangladesh.
“What about Hindus and Buddhists of Jammu & Kashmir? Would they want to come to a country where they would be second class citizens as the Constitution does not allow non-Muslims to become the President or Prime Minister,” he asked.
Further, he said, Pakistan destroyed the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri people by pushing mujahideens into Indian Kashmir and “the Kashmiris are not happy with us”. “Kashmiris living in India may not be happy and comfortable, but they are better off than us,” Mr. Adeel concluded to counter which retired diplomat Akram Zaki said if that were true then there would not be resistance to India’s Independence Day celebrations in Kashmir every year. Two speakers — Attiya Inayatullah of PML (Q) and Yusuf Nasim of AHPC’s ‘Azad Jammu & Kashmir’ chapter — warned of the possibility of Kashmiri youth picking up the gun again if their current effort to “awaken world conscience” through peaceful means fails.