Time to revamp Kashmir Committee, delegates for Kashmir-cause tours

Salahuddin Haider

KASHMIRIS fighting for their rights in the Indian- held area, have been engaged in a heroic struggle, and have already begun adding the most shining and brilliant chapter of their liberation history. It is high time therefore, that Islamabad pursues their cause in much more aggressive and vigorous manner than has been witnessed so far.
Curfew has been there in the valley for the 55th successive day. Ration and essential items of daily use, including milk feeds for infants have either been in short supply or have vanished completely. Precious lives have been lost. Blood flows on the streets of Srinagar and all over the occupied territory.
Yet the Pakistan foreign office has been dilly-dallying over a subject which is like God-sent opportunity to them to unmask the real face of India before the world. Closed door meetings with envoys posted in the capital, or writing a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is just not enough.
Suggestions mooted in TV programmes to send special emissaries to world capitals, have yielded lukewarm result. The prime minister has nominated 20 parliamentarians to visit different countries to advocate the case of the poor, innocent Kashmiris before their leaders.
An excellent idea but badly executed! Nominating 95 per cent of the delegates from the ruling party PML-N show its narrow-mindedness and bias towards the opposition parties. A bi-partisan attitude in picking these delegates ought to have been a natural choice. Kashmir is not just a routine affair. It is much more sensitive and delicate issue. The foreign ministry or the prime minister secretariat will be well advised to review the list of those picked up to represent the Kashmiris cause abroad. Mushahid Hussain, a former information minister, and chairman of Senate Standing Committee is the only exception to be called correct. The rest are just novice, or joy riders. Some of them would not even know the spelling of Kashmir, would hardly be aware as to why the agitation has been on against India, what are the facts and figures about casualties or injuries during the last two months.
Mere foreign office briefings to those picked by the prime minister or the ambassadors in the capitals these nominees will visit will not be sufficient to convince the world leaders about Indian atrocities. The list should have included former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi of PTI, Senator Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan of Peoples Party, former federal minister and ambassador to US, Sherry Rehman, former foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri, or Hina Rabbani Khar. All of them are eloquent conservationists, are aware of the complexities of international relations. Kasuri, Hina or Sherry are articulate personalities. They have held high positions, have handled foreign affairs, and should be a great asset for the country.
Lesson should be learnt from Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who as President or Prime Minister of the country, always included opposition leaders in his delegations on foreign tours. That showed bi-partisan attitude, which continues to be the need of the time even today.
Second, and more importantly, the Kashmir Committee of the National Assembly should now be reconstituted. Its track record is anything but satisfactory. Kashmir has been burning, and its Chairman Maulana Fazlur Rehman, remains oblivious of his duties and obligations. He can hardly understand the sensitivities of the situation. Why waste public money on him with perks and privileges. Nominate people in Kashmir Committee who can deliver. Time has placed a golden opportunities in the lap of Pakistan. It should be exploited to the maximum benefit for the country, and in a manner that should convey a correct message to Kashmiris and their leaders.
The Kashmir Committee in its present form is a burden on the exchequer. The prime minister must apply his mind and draw maximum mileage from a situation, which demands wisdom and foresight. Nominating people to represent the Kashmiris case abroad, in the form of people listed by the premier, will produce nothing, and a good cause will be lost for lack of insight.
American media has begun to take notice of pellet injuries, and blindness that the Indian guns have caused to the locals, fighting for their birth right of being masters of their destiny. Within India, powerful voices of dissent have been heard from personalities like former Rajeev aide, Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Indian foreign secretary Salman Khursheed, the Indian intelligence chief, the Indian chief justice who blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi of ignoring the problem of shortage of judges in superior courts, and paying more attention to Pakistan.
The Indian leader Mayawati has gone ahead of everybody to accuse Modi of trying to wage a war against Pakistan, rather than on paying attention to what is happening in the occupied territory now. This is the time to shake the conscience of the world. The prime minister himself should be in New York at least week or 10 days ahead of his speech at the UN General Assembly next month, meet the world leaders and present them dossiers on Kashmir situation. This is how you present your case to the outside world. The foreign policy instead of being pro-active has unfortunately been reactive. The ministry of foreign affairs is still in slumber in the opinion of serious analysts. It is wake-up call for them now.
Enough time has already been lost. The day all this had started in Kashmir, Pakistan ambassadors in sensitive capitals like Moscow, London, Washington, Paris, Berlin and the likes should have been in meetings with foreign secretaries or foreign ministers of the places of their posting. That this has not happened is a colossal loss for Pakistan.

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