By Ashok B Sharma
India, after winning a series of diplomatic battles against Pakistan, now needs to gradually lift the lockdown imposed on the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. So far the diplomatic success scored by India has been to foil Pakistan’s attempt to internationalise the issue and bring in third party intervention. New Delhi did succeed in its attempts. The only concern voiced by the international community was the lockdown imposed and the possible human rights violation once the siege is lifted. The Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has voiced this in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and accused New Delhi of oppressing the people of J&K.
Imran Khan’s desperation is understandable and therefore out of utter frustration he took resort to evoking Muslim sentiments by saying “what about the 1.3 billion Muslims watching this who know this is only happening because they are Muslims?” He accused RSS, the organisation to which the Indian Prime Minister Modi belongs, for “ethnic cleansing of Muslims” and harbouring “Aryan superiority” To qualify his utterances he accused India of oppression which would lead to “radicalisation” among Kashmiri youth resulting in another Pulwana-like incident and again New Delhi would blame Pakistan for the incident. He did not resist saying of the possibility of a “bloodbath” in Kashmir and a war between two nuclear powers and, therefore, urged the world body to intervene.
Imran Khan’s desperation comes from the fact his Interior Minister Brigadier (retd) Ijaz Ahmed Shah admitting on record that his country failed to garner support from the international community on its narrative about Kashmir. He said despite Islamabad’s efforts the world “rather believes India”.
After drawing flak at the meeting of the UN High Commission for Human Rights (UNHRC) in Geneva where the Foreign Minister Makdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi represented, Pakistan was planning to knock the doors of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). But Islamabad got a rude shock when its lawyer at ICJ Khawar Qureshi recently speaking to Pakistani news channel 92 News said “There is a convention called the Genocide Convention of 1948 to which Pakistan and India both are signatories. The state that has committed genocide, about to commit genocide or and failing to prevent genocide can be made the subject to the proceeding before ICJ…..However, in absence of these pieces of evidence, it is extremely difficult for Pakistan to take this case to the ICJ.”
There is a wise saying “people in the glasshouses should not throw stones.” Imran Khan should first think of the oppression and atrocities committed in his own country on religious minorities, Sindhis, Balochis, Pastuns and on the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir and export of terrorism to India. Also Islamabad fears of being blacklisted under Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for money laundering and terror financing.
The Modi government by finally abrogating the special status enjoyed by the Jammu and Kashmir that includes existence of a separate Constitution and flag has placed Pakistan in a tight spot in negotiations. Islamabad feels that its negotiating agenda is gone and says that there can be no bilateral talks until India reverses its decision. It downgraded its diplomatic relations with India and cut off all trade and connectivity relations.
New Delhi maintains that whole of erstwhile princely state of Maharaja Hari Singh that acceded to India on October 26, 1947 is an integral part of India. Therefore it also claims the part of Jammu & Kashmir now under the occupation of Pakistan and the areas of Ladakh region now held by China. Therefore, India has signalled that future bilateral talks with Pakistan can only be for the areas occupied by Pakistan.
Islamabad, however, disputes this even though the last ruler of the princely state acceded to India as per the Government of India Act 1935 and the accession was acknowledged by the then Governor-General of India Lord Mountbatten, the architect of the partisan of the country. Pakistan’s claim of internalising the issue citing 11 UNSC resolutions has fallen on deaf ears as all these UNSC resolutions are superseded by the Shimla Accord signed between the two countries and confirmed subsequently by the Lahore Declaration. Kashmir issue is, therefore, now a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. Pakistan already lost the chance of getting the plebiscite conducted as then mandated by UNSC as it did not vacate the occupied area.
India maintains that Articles 370 and 35A that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir were the temporary clause of the Constitution and the Parliament has the right to abrogate it. It is, therefore, an internal matter. The decision the bifurcate the state is also an internal matter.
Only saving face for Pakistan was the condemnation that came from the Contact Group of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). But OIC Contact Group finally dashed Pakistan’s hope by saying that the issue should be resolved through “a negotiated settlement” through talks between the two countries. The OIC Contact Group condemnation is of routine nature. In meetings of OIC each year a routine condemnation is issued on situation in J&K. The OIC consist of 57 Muslim countries and none of them so far separately came out openly condemning India’s action in revoking Article 370 and bifurcating the erstwhile state into two union territories, UAE and Maldives maintained that it is an internal affair of India. Saudi Arabia and Malaysia in their measured response did not take sides. China has some tacit support for Pakistan, but failed to garner support for its “all weather friend” in the UNSC. China has claimed parts of Indian territory and even occupied parts of Ladakh and says that its boundary dispute with India is hangover from history.
India should not provoke Pakistan for a war but should be prepared for it if the latter initiates it. It should take adequate attempts to check the export of terror by Pakistan that has resulted in loss of lives of 41,866 persons in 71,038 terror attacks since 1990 in Jammu and Kashmir. New Delhi has to gradually lift the siege in Jammu and Kashmir and regain the confidence of the people. Already the process has been initiated by lifting the lockdown in Jammu and parts of northern Kashmir and promise of conducting elections to local bodies. Gradually bringing normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir will justify and permanently ensure India’s diplomatic success.