WEBDESK: Sixty-seven years on, Kashmir remains an unfinished agenda of Partition, and a running dispute between Pakistan and India rigged with ever-lurking potential of exploding into a full-fledged conflict as it did thrice before but much more cataclysmically now. It is time the international community should come forward and help de-escalate the tension that has come to obtain between the two countries in the wake of growing Indian belligerence on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary.
How to go about this, Pakistan has presented to the United Nations a “new peace process”. This the four-point initiative, spelt out before the UN General Assembly by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday, is quite workable only if New Delhi examines it objectively. It can turn out to be the much-needed confidence-building measure for a productive engagement to help resolve their bilateral disputes.
The first, which he said would be the “easiest to implement”, is formalise and respect the 2003 understanding for a complete cease-fire on the Line of Control in Kashmir. If such an understanding could be arrived at before why not now, unless India has some other designs, as sometimes obliquely hinted by its military commanders who blithely talk of ‘Cold Start’ and “Limited War”.
That the ‘infiltrators from across the border are on the streets of Srinagar and many other cities in Occupied Kashmir every second day waving Pakistan flag’ is an allegation that could be rejected by a plausible argument – they are Kashmiris protesting against New Delhi’s oppressive control which is characterised by draconian lows and deployment of massive military troops. Then why is India allergic to the presence of UN Military Observers’ Group along the Line of Control?
In fact, Pakistan would welcome a secure, impregnated LoC, and thus a CBM. India should also move forward on the understanding earlier reached and mutually withdraw from the Siachen Glacier, to which Pakistan would in tandem. Pakistan would like Kashmir to be demilitarised, to help Kashmiris move out of the dark shadow of an occupational army.
Not that we in Pakistan didn’t know how India would react to Pakistan’s offer for resumption of peace process. Within minutes of the prime minister’s offer of talks the India’s UN mission in New York accused Pakistan of trying to “shift responsibility” for tension on the LoC, followed by tweets by its foreign office that Pakistan’s ‘instability arises from its breeding of terrorists…Blaming neighbours is no solution’. In actuality, however, the boot is on the other foot – ‘it is India fomenting instability in Pakistan’, the prime minister told the General Assembly. A dossier on this nefarious activity has been passed on to the UN.
Rightly then it was necessary that the world outside should be better informed of what is wrong with Pak-India relationship, and how deeply coloured is India’s propaganda against Pakistan. And it was also necessary for the world to be informed that before things come to a boil, as India seems to be trying at, and prompting use of the “advanced weapons systems” that two neighbours have in their armouries. In the words of Prime Minister of Pakistan, “South Asia needs strategic stability [and not the threats of use of force under any circumstances] and this requires a serious dialogue to achieve nuclear restraint, conventional balance and conflict resolution”.
In his short but all-encompassing address to the historic 70th session of the UN General Assembly, the prime minister also touched upon Afghanistan unequivocally condemning militants’ attacks and promised to persist in the endeavour to help resume the dialogue process between the Afghan government and Taliban, to “do so only if we receive the required co-operation”.
Earlier, during the day Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry had rejected the Taliban attack on Kunduz saying it was “unacceptable”. And all this was despite Afghan government’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah’s claim in his speech to the General Assembly that some of the attackers came from Pakistan.
One more subject prime minister Nawaz Sharif was expected to comment about was India’s struggle to become Permanent Member of Security Council, and he did offer his comment, couched as it was in words soft but firm. “We need a Security Council that is more democratic, representative, accountable and transparent … in accordance with the principle of sovereign equality … not a club of the powerful and privileged”. It was certainly a well-articulated exposition of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
But as to its follow-up we should hope for the best and despair for the worst. With the Modi-led Hindutva ruling the roost in today’s India, a positive response should not be expected, as appears from its gut reaction reflected from its UN mission’s instant retort. As for the United Nations it is nothing but a tool employed by its veto-wielding Permanent Members, while the General Assembly is nothing but a debating club.
But others who have political and strategic interests and stakes in a peaceful South Asia now have before them in the shape of Pakistan’s four-point initiative with which they can weigh in with New Delhi to resume the stalled peace process.