Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif talking to the media on way to the United States, where he is set to speak at 70th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) termed the Kashmir dispute as the main reason ofcontention between South Asian arch rivals Pakistan and India implying that once the Kashmir issue was solved Indo-Pakistani relations would be fine. Though there is no chance of a quick resolution of the Kashmir conflict that has been troubling the subcontinent since 1947 still it should be understood that the reasons for the tensions and even hatred between India and Pakistan are deeper than only the question where Kashmir should belong. Sometimes the Kashmir problem is called ‘a problem of unfinished partition agenda’.
But the fact is that fate of Kashmir was not decided according to the approved partition plan and even the division of Punjab was manipulated by awarding the Muslim majority districts of Gurdaspur and Pathankot to India enable its control over Kashmir through the only road to Kashmir that went through Gurdaspur. In a way this was the British farsighted design to serve their purpose of dividing and ruling and it points towards the real bone of contention between India and Pakistan – that is a big partition gimmick, which the Kashmiri people have realized now and are demanding freedom from India yoke.
Today Hindutva ideology does not accept partition that was based on the fear of Indian Muslims that in a Hindu rashtra they would not be able to live as Muslims but be treated as second class citizens or even forcefully converted. Hindutva does not accept the existence of Pakistan and that is why Kashmir according to them cannot belong elsewhere other than in India – possibly together with what Pakistan is today. Looking at the situation between India and Pakistan from this angle we can see that it is the very existence of Pakistan that is resented by Hindu nationalists of whom Prime Minister Modi is an extreme representative with full US and Israeli backing. Even before he came into power a foreign policy institute opined that ‘Personality evaluation and analysis do predict that given Modi’s legacy and dynamics of Indian internal politics, the future of Pakistan and India relations is not much bright.’
And that is what we are facing now. It would be helpful to keep this background in mind while shaping our relationship with India. While Mr. Modi is Prime Minister of India there can hardly be any progress in the Kashmir question. Though Nawaz Sharif can demand that India should include Kashmir into possible talks there is no realistic chance for it. Last week US and Indian foreign ministers chaired a strategic and commercial meeting in Washington and announced next ten years strategic cooperation plan mainly alleging Pakistan for promoting Daesh, Lasker and D groups operating in Kashmir.
Unfortunately; the Pakistani foreign office appears to be paralysed in the absence of a full time foreign minister to tackle the barrage of allegations levelled against Pakistan just before the UN General Assembly where Pakistani Prime Ministers has to prove his stature and take a firm stand on Kashmir issue and show the true face of India. What Pakistan can do is to expose Indian intransigency internationally and otherwise put our own house in order. That includes taking care of Gilgit-Baltistan by awarding it regular provincial status and by solving our terrorism problem. Besides, it is Pakistan’s obligation to represent plight of Indian Kashmiris to the international community because India is misleading the world about it and preventing Kashmiris to speak for themselves. The latest example for this is the case of Syed Ali Gilani who has been put under house arrest with his passport cancelled so that he might not be able to travel abroad to tell the world about the diresituation of Kashmiris in India.
To represent the plight of Kashmiris at the OIC meeting would be now a noble obligation for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is morally also bound to highlight atrocities committed by the Indians to silence the voice of the Kashmiri people are demanding the implementation of the UN Resolutions to hold a plebiscite to decide their own future.
—The writer is a senior columnist based in Karachi.