Kashmir remains international issue

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Malik Ashraf
ON 15 January the UNSC for the second time discussed situation in the IoK on Pakistan’s request supported by China. Though like the previous occasion no formal statement was issued after the discussion but what transpired during the meeting was revealed to the media by the Chinese Ambassador to the UN, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN Muneer Akram. According to the revealed details the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and the head of the military operations briefed the members on the political and human rights situation in Kashmir and the current situation at the Line of Control. They briefed the Council about the measures the Indian government has taken and how tension has increased. Both the observers quoted the UN’s reports on human rights violations to highlight the situation in the valley. The observers revealed that Pakistan was cooperating while India had not cooperated at all.
China like always supporting Pakistan’s principled position on the India-occupied Kashmir (IoK), reiterating that Kashmir was a dispute left from history and it should be properly resolved through relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and bilateral treaties and in a peaceful way. All members expressed concern over the current situation and called for restraint and de-escalation Russia was in agreement with China while USA and Germany were of the view that the issue should be resolved bilaterally. However on the question of human rights situation in IoK all the Council members including those who termed Kashmir as a bilateral issue admitted that situation regarding human rights in the territory was grave. The foregoing developments represent success of the diplomatic blitz launched by Pakistan since 5th August which has not only internationalized the Kashmir issue but also effectively countered the Indian position that Kashmir was its internal affair, notwithstanding the fact the US and her allies due to their strategic partnership with India remain indifferent to the resolution of the issue in the light of the UN resolutions and the UN also remains incapacitated to implement its own resolutions. Regrettably the right of self-determination promised to the people of Kashmir by UN has become a casualty of the global politics.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was also on a diplomatic mission to USA following mounting tension between Iran and the US. He was in Tehran and Riyadh before heading to Washington. He had meetings with US officials including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and discussed bilateral ties, trade, tension in the Middle East, human rights situation in India-occupied Kashmir and peace process in Afghanistan. Later in an interview with Fox News, the Foreign Minister said Pakistan was asking the US for a responsible withdrawal from Afghanistan unlike the ’80s which created a vacuum for the destructive forces to take over. Qureshi said Pakistan facilitated a US dialogue with Taliban on the request of US President Donald Trump in the hope for peace and stability in the region and it was due to Pakistan’s efforts that the Taliban were talking to the US today and there was a possibility of an agreement. Qureshi rightly observed, “The convergence between Pakistan and US stands as a unique opportunity for peace in Afghanistan, ultimately a shared responsibility. Pakistan will continue playing part for peace in the entire region,” Reportedly he also conveyed to Pompeo that Pakistan had lived up to all US expectations during a difficult time and now was the time for the latter to reciprocate.
It is an undeniable fact that Pakistan has given unparalleled sacrifices in the fight against terrorism besides making relentless sincere efforts at the bilateral and multilateral forums to promote process of reconciliation in Afghanistan and facilitating US-Taliban dialogue. But the US blinded by its strategic partnership with India has not only invariably looked askance at the contribution made by Pakistan in this regard but also has shown criminal indifference to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute which is the root-cause of the current situation stemming from the Indian action of ending special status of the IoK, in blatant violation of the UN resolutions. Mr Qureshi was right and justified in observing that it was now time for the US to reciprocate. The demanded reciprocity is a reminder to the US to support the right cause of the people of Kashmir and also sincerely acknowledging the role played by Pakistan in facilitating the US-Taliban dialogue and to keep in view Pakistan’s strategic interests while reaching an agreement to end the Afghan conflict.
Kashmir dispute is a test of the much hyped credentials of US and its allies as champions of human causes and the universally recognized principle of self-determination. The people of IoK are fighting for their right of self-determination and as per UN resolutions they are also entitled to adopt any means to win their freedom. They have launched the freedom struggle since 1989 which was initially recognized as such by the world community but come 9/11 the whole scenario changed. The US and its allies forged strategic alliance with India and started equating the freedom struggle in IoK with terrorism. It has encouraged India to persist with her ruthless oppression to subdue the freedom struggle in IoK as well to adopt a belligerent posture towards Pakistan. The extremist action taken by Modi government to end special status of IoK, bifurcation of the territory into tow and its amalgamation with the Indian Union is also a sequel to the same disposition. India has imperilled security of the region and any escalation could have very serious repercussion for all the stakeholders. The US and her allies need to revisit their strategy before it is too late.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.