Making mockery of talks

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THERE are reports that some countries are persuading Pakistan and India to open some channels of communication in the backdrop of growing tension between the two nuclear neighbours because of berserk policies of Modi Government in Occupied Kashmir. Pakistan has already expressed its willingness for talks but it is not yet clear whether on some vital terms and conditions or talks for the sake of talks as the two countries have been doing since partition.
There can be no two opinions that war is no solution to any problem, rather it complicates them further and pushes nations backward on many fronts. But this does not mean that the countries should continue the drama of talks for decades without achieving anything positive or substantial. Talks with India would be welcomed by people of Pakistan only if these are centred on deciding the future of Jammu & Kashmir and not on the issue of reversal of Modi Government’s illegal actions in Occupied Kashmir or future of Azad Kashmir as India insists. Pakistan needs to have clarity in its stand in this regard as people would not accept any such move if talks are held without first ensuring undoing of illegal annexation of Occupied Kashmir by India. In their recent statements, both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi hinted at the possibility of dialogue with India adding to the prevailing confusion on the issue. Both the leaders claimed that India will have to meet certain preconditions before any engagements but these preconditions seem to be irrelevant. Asking for an end to curfew and release of Kashmiri leaders is irrelevant in the present context as India cannot continue with these measures for long in the face of growing pressure and condemnation from across the globe. Therefore, talks should only be held if India reverses its illegal actions and commits itself to meaningful and result-oriented dialogue for final and just settlement of the longstanding dispute. Resolutions of the UN Security Council forms legitimate basis for talks, which should focus on how to materialize the objectives as narrated in those resolutions. The suggestion of Federal Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad that Pakistan should not close the door if there is some middle path on Kashmir is fraught with serious consequences and reflects lack of will on the part of our leadership to fight for safeguarding the legitimate rights of Kashmiri people. We have immensely damaged the cause of Kashmir by suggestions made by different rulers in the past about possibility of deviation from the principled position that Kashmir issue should be resolved as per aspirations of Kashmiri people through a UN-supervised plebiscite as envisaged in relevant Security Council resolutions, to which India also committed at that time. The authorities are also sending wrong messages to the masses by their indecision on the issue of taking punitive measures against India in the aftermath of illegal annexation of Occupied Kashmir. Instead of going for firm action, we are still debating whether or not there should be aviation ban or trade curbs on India to make it realize the folly of its actions. This is despite the fact that India took similar actions against Pakistan in the past and that too without any justification. If we are not going for such hard measures then how can we accept from other countries to take punitive actions against India. Grant of consular access to confirmed spy and killer Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan is also reflective of its lack of proper vision and thinking. No doubt, this is in line with verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the Vienna Convention on consular relations but the timing has sent shockwaves among people of Pakistan and Kashmiris. What was hurry to grant such an access? This and similar unilateral concessions given to India in the past have damaged our cause and India took us for granted. By reverting back to bilateral talks, we would also be subscribing to the Indian viewpoint being propagated these days as well that Kashmir is purely a bilateral issue. Under these circumstances, Pakistan must not fall into the trap of so-called talks without restoration of status quo in Occupied Kashmir and India committing to result-oriented dialogue on settlement of the dispute. There should absolutely be no suggestion or willingness for talks when India is engaged in measures to strengthen its hold on Kashmir and hurls threats on Pakistan as well.