INDIA’S Minister of State for External Afairs MJ Akbar has stated that Pakistan should not internationalise the Kashmir issue. “As far as the Kashmir issue is concerned, Pakistan must not internationalise it; it is a bilateral issue.” Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s had taken a bold, though belated, decision to appoint 22 parliamentarians as his special envoys to highlight Indian brutalities and human rights abuses in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in various world capitals. “I am standing behind these special envoys to ensure their toil for highlighting the Kashmir cause resonates across the world so that I can shake the collective conscience of international community during my address at UN this September,” he said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been ignoring saner voices within Pakistan to be cautious while dealing with Hindutva inspired and RSS powered Modi, however, he continued to ignore Modi’s brinkmanship and kept giving him benefit of doubt. Modi’s August 15 speech has compelled Nawaz to rethink his approach towards India, as Modi has shamelessly bared its teeth. PM Nawaz has said that Kashmir problem is the most persistent failure of UN and that the world body must establish its relevance. “We will also make it clear to India that it was India that approached UN several decades back on Kashmir dispute but now it is not fulfilling its promise,” he added.
Premier Nawaz Sharif’s move has evoked a strong and angry reaction from the Indian media, which called it “provocation, needling and meddling” in the country’s affairs. The Indian Express said the Pakistan government had needled India on Kashmir by nominating special envoys. Under the headline “Pakistan provokes India”, a visibly frustrated The First Post wrote “the move can be seen as provocation from Pakistan’s side, which has been in a constant tussle with the Indian political leadership over the Kashmir issue recently”. India Today said Islamabad’s decision was “yet another attempt to meddle in India’s internal affairs”.
MJ Akbar and Indian media need to read the fine print of Simla Agreement once again that, in its opening paragraph, makes an unambiguous reference to the UN charter: “That the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries. Agreement states: “Pending the final settlement of any of problems between two countries, neither side shall unilaterally alter situation and both shall prevent the organization, assistance or encouragement of any acts detrimental to the maintenance of peace and harmonious relations”. India violated this provision of Simla Agreement by occupying Siachen glacier in 1984. All efforts by Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute bilaterally, since Simla Agreement (1972), have failed, hence need to fall back to the UN.
Majority of credible analysts had all along maintained the existence of an Indo-Afghan nexus with the objective to destabilize Pakistan, especially Balochistan and FATA. Earlier both these counties were in a denial mode, however with the ascent of hardliner Narendra Modi to Prime Ministerial slot, caution began to be thrown to wind, and ultimate came on August 15. These days Modi is busy in getting as many opportunists on-board his Balochistan bandwagon as possible, those on Indian pay role are jumping as a matter of compulsion. Anti-state slogans in Karachi were also orchestrated by one of RAW protégé—the MQM London chief—to dilute the impact of Modi’s goof-up. Due to fierce pro-Pakistan reaction by the MQM rank and file, he has lost control over his party, at least for the time being.
India’s international protégé former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was the only non-Indian guy to subscribe to Modi’s inflammatory speech. Karzai rushed to confession on August 20 about his involvement in meddling in Pakistan’s internal affairs. Karzai expressed empathy with the people of Balochistan: “The issue of Balochis and their rights and need for them to have peace is something that we commiserate, we understand remarks of the Prime Minister of India. We wish Balochistan and its people very well… In other words, we understand the remarks of Prime Minister Modi and I appreciate it,” said Karzai.
During his difficult times, Pakistan in general and province of Balochistan in particular had hosted Karzai and his family as Afghan refugee for years. Pakistan’s say was also critical in his elevation to presidency of Afghanistan during Bonn I conference, in 2001. And this is how he has chosen to pay back. He chose to express his diatribe right from the Indian capital. Other clients of Modi are self-exiled Baloch heretics living in Europe. India has been propping up these separatists since decades, facilitating them in cash and kind, enabling their travel and providing them platform to make inflammatory orations against Pakistan.
Divya Kashore opined inhis article “Indian flags set ablaze in Balochistan following Narendra Modi’s I-Day diatribe against Pakistan”, carried by International Business Times on August 19 stated that Anti-India protests had erupted in Balochistan over a statement made by Indian Prime Minister. In Quetta, members of “Pakistan Workers Party” marched on August 18 to condemn Modi. Civil society activists and several other political organisations also took part in the march demanding that Pakistan govt take the issue to the international forum. “The demonstrators set ablaze Indian flags and burnt effigies of Modi.
They stated that terrorism in Balochistan is funded by India”. Within hours of Modi’s provocative speech, Pakistan had proposed settlement of Kashmir dispute through its foreign secretary’s letter to find solution to Kashmir dispute — bilaterally— in line with both countries’ responsibilities in the context of Kashmir related UNSC resolutions. On August 19, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary once again invited his Indian counterpart for talks. In a reply to Pakistani Foreign Secretary’s second letter, India has sought talks on alleged cross-border terrorism in the IOK. Stating India’s willingness to engage in foreign secretary-level talks but not on issues chosen by Pakistan. At the weekly news briefing on August 25, Foreign Office spokesperson said India would always hide behind ‘excuses’ not to hold the dialogue.
While briefing the ambassadors of P-5 and the EU, on August 27, Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz expressed his regrets over the Indian decision saying Pakistan has always demonstrated willingness to hold talks with the Indian side but it has received the same response from the other side. The Adviser said the international community, has an important role to uphold the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law. The P-5 and EU Ambassadors appreciated Pakistan’s readiness for dialogue. Hopefully, concerted multidimensional efforts by the government of Pakistan would soon begin to yield results.
— The writer is consultant to IPRI on policy and strategic response.