A lot of chest thumping and back-patting is being observed in government circles after Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the seventieth UNGA session although his four-point proposal to ease tension between India and Pakistan and move towards a workable solution of the festering Kashmir issue was spurned by India. Sushma Swaraj, Indian External Affairs Minister, responded venomously: “We do not need four points; we need just one—SHUN TERROR!”
It is time that ground realities regarding the Kashmir issue are taken into consideration. First and foremost, Pakistan lacks a sustained and coherent Kashmir policy. Various governments have tried to resolve the issue through different means. Ayub Khan’s hands were forced by a coterie of ambitious politicians, bureaucrats and generals to initiate Operations Gibraltar and Grand Slam, which led to India launching a full scale war. Pakistan panicked but a handful of brave soldiers, airmen and sailors saved the day. India lacked strategic planners to see its military thrust bear fruition and the war ended in stalemate but the Kashmir situation remained unchanged. Under Yahya Khan, India planned and executed subversion, insurgency and full scale war in which Pakistan’s eastern wing was severed while territories in the west were also lost. Under Zia-ul-Haq’s authoritarian rule, India occupied Siachen and has held commanding positions since. As Army Chief, Musharraf tried the Kargil adventure, failed miserably, nearly lost his job but got resurrected as the country’s Chief Executive through a soft coup. Musharraf tried to secure an out-of-the-box solution but got outsmarted by the Indians. The plight of the Kashmiris remained unchanged.
Zardari remained oblivious to the Kashmir problem while Nawaz Sharif, elected to lead the country for the third time, tried to mend fences with India through trade and commerce putting the Kashmir issue on the backburner.
He failed to comprehend that Narendra Modi assumed the mantle of Prime Minister with a clear agenda regarding Kashmir—its annexation to India to be completed before the end of his tenure.
Modi’s Kashmir agenda is multi-pronged. To sideline the Kashmiri leadership and isolate them from Pakistan; to alter the demography of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) by resettling Hindus so that Muslim majority of the Valley becomes a minority and finally abrogating Article 370 of the Indian Constitution (that grants special autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir) to amalgamate it as an integral part of India.
Nawaz Sharif should have got the message loud and clear when he was invited to the swearing in ceremony of Modi as the 15thPrime Minister of India and was warned not to meet any Kashmiri leader during his Bharat yatra. Mian sahib willingly obliged and gleefully held profitable meetings with Indian iron and steel magnates Birlas and Tatas only.
When India cancelled the Foreign Secretary level meeting scheduled in Islamabad on August 25, 2014, under the plea that Pakistan’s High Commissioner in New Delhi had held meetings with the Hurriyat leaders prior to the Foreign Secretaries’ Islamabad moot, Pakistan should have seen through Modi’s machinations. While Indian forces were blatantly firing barrages of rockets and heavy artillery across the LoC, an undeterred Nawaz Sharif dispatched mangoes to his Indian counterpart and an expensive sari for Modi’s mother.
The elections in IOK held in five phases (November 25-December 20, 2014), were expected to bring the BJP into power under its infamous “44+” formula i.e., aspiring to bag at least 44 seats in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly. BJP did not achieve its target but managed to form a coalition government with PDP and is now calling the shots in IOK.
The second phase of the heinous Kashmir agenda was to appoint hardliner Hindu extremists like Ajit Doval as National Security Adviser (NSA), Sanjeev Tripathi, Rajnath Singh, et al in key positions. Being a former RSS Parcharak, Modi, like Dr Faust sold his soul to Mephistopheles, made a deal for RSS to run his election campaign and drive people out to vote for him. After his anointment as the Prime Minister, the RSS demanded its pound of flesh for backing the BJP campaign under Modi. Modi is endeavouring to change India’s constitution from a secular state to a non-secular one promoting Hindutva.
The next phase of Modi’s agenda has been put into motion where indiscriminate firing across the LoC and working boundary is being incessantly carried out, killing civilians, destroying property but blaming Pakistan for it. Simultaneously, false flag terror operations are being conducted, laying the blame squarely on Pakistan. The aim is to demonise Pakistan and have the world label Pakistan as a terrorist state while simultaneously abetting and arming terrorists to wreak havoc in Pakistan to destabilise it.
Meeting between the two Prime Ministers at the Russian city of UFA at the sidelines of the SCO Summit, in an atmosphere of bonhomie, Nawaz Sharif complied with the caveat imposed by India not to mention the K-word. Nawaz Sharif went a step ahead as he did not mention the Samjhota Express inferno or the BBC exposé of Indian machinations of spreading terror in Karachi, FATA, KPK and Balochistan, he assented to taking the alleged protagonists of 26/11 Mumbai attack to task and limit all future talks to “terrorism” only.
The meeting between the NSAs got scuttled because belatedly Pakistan decided to meet the Kashmiri leaders prior to the meeting.
Modi’s refusal to deny the Kashmiri leadership as being the prime stakeholder in the Kashmir issue is contrary to all norms of humanitarian principles. The Occident, which following the cold blooded massacre of over 2,000 Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002 under the stewardship of Narendra Modi, had refused to grant him entry visa to their respective countries but now welcome him with open arms only because India is a huge market and rising economy.
Under the circumstances, instead of having a knee jerk approach, Pakistan must chalk out a comprehensive Kashmir policy and mount diplomatic pressure on India to grant Kashmiris their rights assured by the UN. Indo-Pakistan membership into SCO is subject to both countries settling their issues bilaterally. Perhaps this card can be played effectively to come to terms with India through negotiations.