Kashmir is all that Pakistan talks about these days. On 14 August, the day on which Great Britain created Pakistan in 1947, Imran Khan was in Muzaffarabad instigating Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK)“nationalists,” (the long-time adversaries of Pakistan), that India had snatched away Kashmir from them. He purported to convey through them a message to POK expatriates in the UK who responded by making a massive protest demonstration in front of the Indian Mission in London. The London police made a mock show of preventive measures.
Armed insurgency and ‘azadi’ (freedom) slogan were actually initiated by POK’s UK-based diaspora in the early 1980s on the behest of ISI. These criminals had kidnapped and murdered Ravindra Mhatre, the Indian Counsellor in Birmingham in 1982. In 1993, when JKLF had spread its fangs in the Valley, the PoK-based activists, under the leadership of Amanullah Khan, led a march to force entry into Kashmir Valley by violating the LoC. Apprehensive of JKLF carrying the day, and that Kashmiris would rally round freedom and not for accession to Pakistan, The Pakistan military stopped the JKLF marchers at Chakoti, a small village in POK near the LoC. Violence erupted and the Pakistan army opened fire on them in which 27 persons are reported to have been killed or seriously wounded. Since then, PoK “Kashmir nationalists” and Pakistan authorities have been locked in a seesaw relationship. But now, PoK expatriates have forgotten that bloodshed as well as the untold oppression unleashed by Pakistan on freedom fighters, intellectuals, ideologues, writers and media persons of PoK. Many of them were banished who sought asylum in western countries.
The Pakistani premier, MrImran Khan, made frantic telephone calls to President Trump raising alarm on India bringing certain constitutional and administrative reforms in Kashmir. Pakistan’s foreign minister made a jaunt to Beijing to secure China’s support at the Security Council where Pakistan lodged a complaint and called for an emergency meeting, which, however, did not materialise. Only a closed-door clueless meeting was held. Turkey’s President TayyipErdogan promised steadfast support without condemning India and the Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir made only a lukewarm expression of concern. OIC second rung representatives passed the usual farcical resolution that finally goes to the dust bin and UAE as well as SAARC countries called it India’s internal affair.
Yes, China gave limited support, though she concentrated more on Ladakh and her border security concerns. But the world knows that China has no principled foreign policy. However, the Tiananmen Square carnage, trampling of the rights of Tibetans and suppression of Sunni Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang cannot be washed away that soon. Pakistan usually misleads the people in believing that Muslim countries support its Kashmir stand. But how the Muslim states reacted in the present case proves that what binds modern societies into the strings of a partnership are economic interests. China’s annual trade with India amounts to USD 95 billion compared to USD 13 billion with Pakistan. Turkey’s trade with India stands at USD 8.6 billion against USD 1 billion with Pakistan. Malaysia-India trade at USD 14 billion is 14 times more than the USD 1 billion of goods and services which Malaysia exchanges with Pakistan.
On Pakistan creation day, Imran Khan chanted only India and Modi in his Muzaffarabad outburst. He could not get rid of the genie. At the UN, at its embassies and missions abroad, the talk is only about Kashmir. Pakistan foreign office shot SOS to perceived patrons and dubious international organisations shedding crocodile’s tears on India’s masterstroke in Kashmir and begging for intervention. People in Pakistan have gone hysterical about the bolt from the blue. But the reality is that Imran Khan and his foreign minister have demonstrated feigned hysterics only to lure the Pak Army into thinking that its hand-picked civilian government is doing all it can to carry forward its agenda. Some observers even say that Imran Khan’s decision of taking the COAS and the ISI boss along with him to Washington was taken because he had apprehensions of a military coup in his absence. The arrest and detention of some of the terrorist leaders including Hafiz Saeed, no doubt an eyewash, did not go well with the army.
Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic relations with India, stopped bilateral trade which is ridiculously insignificant and cancelled the Samjhauta and Thar Express. Frustration speaks loudly. It shows how Modi has gravely incapacitated Pakistan. All that remains of seven-decade-old Kashmir dispute is to fulfil the 1994 unanimous resolution of the Indian Parliament of taking back the area of the original State of Jammu and Kashmir under Pakistan’s illegal occupation since 1947. Pakistan must come forward and talk about its withdrawal from POK (Mirpur Muzaffarabad and GilgitBaltistan), and also persuade China not only to return the Aksai Chin area of original J&K State but also return to India the part of Shaksgam Valley that Pakistan ceded to China in 1963.
The state raised by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1846 has finally integrated into the Indian Union. The Indian nation must pay tribute to that Dogra ruler, a great army commander and a visionary statesman. J&K’s communally oriented Constitution of 1956, and the entire separatist edifice is razed to the ground. The falsely constructed superficial notion of identity stands eroded, and only one identity—that of an Indian—remains valid henceforth. Forget about its reversal of constitutional reform measures,attack on any part of the Union Territory means war, and the Defence Minister cleared all doubts about India’s determination to recover its territory now under illegal occupation of the neighbouring countries. In the context of how and when to take back, POK, India must, among other things, take into account the fierce opposition in POK to Pakistani domination. It is the moral duty of India to come to their rescue. Many political dissenting parties in PoK and G-B are willing to be the part of Indian Union. India must consolidate her position there and liberate the people of those areas from the shackles of Pak slavery.
As far as Pakistan’s accusation of India violating the defunct UNSC resolutions on Kashmir is concerned, we may remind Pakistan that she has repeatedly altered the status of the parts of Kashmir it controls, weakening its current protestations. In April 1949, Pakistan took over Gilgit-Baltistan (then called the ‘Northern Areas’) through an agreement with the government of Azad Kashmir and the political party, All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference. No accredited representative from GB was party to this clandestine agreement.
Recently, former Pakistani diplomat Husain Haqqani, who currently is the Director for South and Central Asia at Hudson Institute, wrote in one of his articles how in 1969 a Northern Areas Advisory Council (NAAC) was created in the region, followed by the Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC) in 1994. Pakistan’s Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas retained all law-making powers until the 2009 Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, which created an elected legislature and the office of the chief minister. According to him, Pakistan’s stance that the status of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was yet to be settled also did not come in the way of the 1963 Pakistan-China boundary agreement that resulted in China ceding some territory to Pakistan and Pakistan recognising Chinese sovereignty over hundreds of square kilometres of land in Northern Kashmir and Ladakh. He posits that in this scenario the Kashmiri separatist leadership now has three choices: it could take the matter to the Indian Supreme Court and argue that the decision violates Indian constitutional principles. This option has been exhausted with the Supreme Court declining to meddle in the administrative matters. Secondly, it could mobilise protests that could turn the Kashmir Valley into a South Asian West Bank, along with the misery that might bring for the Kashmiri people.
In doing so, Pakistan cannot afford to ignore the Damocles sword hanging on her neck in the shape of UN’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF) warning of blacklisting Islamabad. The way India has taken preventive measures clearly indicates that New Delhi will not allow a theocratic region on the territory of the Indian Union. If massive protests ensue and India puts them down with a heavy hand, one can expect denunciation of human rights violations from detractors of India. It can be argued that in today’s world, human rights violations have, regrettably, lost their salience as instigators of international pressure. In the case of Kashmir insurgency, no power has an iota of doubt that it is a jihadi terrorist movement aimed at breaking the Union. India’s show of the might of the state cannot be challenged by China with Tiananmen Square massacre hanging around her neck like an albatross.
Finally, it could try and see how to extract maximum advantage from the new order. This is the only right option for the dissidents in Kashmir and it depends on their vision how best they can put it into practice. In conclusion, a heavy responsibility devolves on Indian policy makers in the background of the fundamental reason of scrapping Article 370 and doing away with State’s special status. It is the responsibility of development, of growth of infrastructure, of providing employment and other reforms. India has no time to waste in executing these weighty tasks, for which huge private as well as public investments would be required.
(*The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University)
Haqqani, Husain. “Pakistan Needs to Stop Thinking of Kashmir as an Unfinished Business of Partition.” By Husain Haqqani, www.hudson.org/research/15233-pakistan-needs-to-stop-thinking-of-kashmir-as-an-unfinished-business-of-partition.