Kashmir dispute threatens South Asian peace and stability

“Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. It is called as the nuclear flash point of South Asia because of the war threat it poses to the peace and security of the region. Since 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars over this issue i.e. 1948, 1965, and 1999. Both rivals have been engaged in border skirmishes, often. This conflict has also enhanced the region’s nuclear arms race, which can potentially disturb stability in the future. With the rising extremism in India, the threat to Muslims existing there, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, has increased significantly. Hence, the solution is essential at the earliest”.

N. P. Upadhyaya ( Aryal) 

Kathmandu: A regular Al Jazeera Columnist Maknoon Wani writes February 4, 2023, under the title “Kashmir is bleeding, so is its economy” that “ 0n January 1, 2023, as the world celebrated the start of a new year, several families were mourning in the Rajouri district of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. Armed men stormed a village and killed four civilians, injuring six others. Two more civilians were killed the following day”.

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Since Maknoon Wani is an acclaimed researcher and incoming graduate student at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford and thus what could be believed is that whatever he writes must have sound basis backed by intensive study/research work.

Similarly, Iman Faisal writing for the Modern Diplomacy dated January 27, 2023, brilliantly summarizes the issue of the disputed Kashmir saying that “Since partition, the dispute of Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. It is called as the nuclear flash point of South Asia because of the war threat it poses to the peace and security of the region. Since 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars over this issue i.e. 1948, 1965, and 1999. Both rivals have been engaged in border skirmishes, often. This conflict has also enhanced the region’s nuclear arms race, which can potentially disturb stability in the future. With the rising extremism in India, the threat to Muslims existing there, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, has increased significantly. Hence, the solution is essential at the earliest”.

In fact columnist Faisal’s observation tally with our own repeated observations made in the past on the lingering Kashmir dispute since we began to report on the issue right from the beginning of the early 2018 or even earlier.
That the South Asian region has been made unhinged and politically unstable by the elephantine neighbor, India, which has been claiming that the Kashmir was an integral part of the Indian regime and that no third party has the right or whatsoever to meddle in the Kashmir affairs.

However, India’s competing and matching rival Pakistan too has similar and equally fitting claims on Kashmir but yet ( Pakistan) clearly states that the Kashmir is a disputed territory but not to what India claims and that Pakistan is committed to honor and respect the entire United nations Security Council Resolutions made at different intervals of time in the past.

All that Pakistan wants is that the Kashmiri population be allowed to determine their fate on their own through the agreed upon plebiscite under the UN aegis.

Needless to say, India has severe reservations.

Despite Indian qualms and adamancy, the Kashmiri disagreement has already drawn the attention of the global powers that have a greater say on world conflict.

Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi writes in the Dawn newspaper dated January 9, 2023, summing up the entire year 2022 saying that “the year 2022 saw Indian actions aimed at disempowering its Muslim population by reshaping Kashmir’s demographic landscape and measures to systematically erode Kashmiri culture, language and religious identity”.

Ambassador Lodhi laments upon learning that the so-called great powers have been so far keeping a studied silence over the atrocities made on the poor Muslim population in Kashmir by the Indian establishment and expresses her displeasure stating that “a more egregious example of repression such as that in Kashmir can hardly be found anywhere in the world. Yet this grim situation is met by silence from countries that claim to be standard-bearers of human rights”.

Lady Ambassador’s anxiety is valid and genuine in that neither the recognized world powers nor the United Nations Security Council UNSC, appear encouraged to “resolve” the overly prolonged dispute on Kashmir and help stabilize the already unstable and politically volatile region of South Asia.

Needless to say, Kashmir is, if one were to borrow to what Iman Faisal says in the article mentioned in the earlier paragraphs that it is “a nuclear flash point of South Asia because of the war threat it poses to the peace and security of the region”.

Faisal in his full honesty describes as to what he saw, however, the big powers remain still averse to sort out the Kashmir dispute once and for all so that the South Asian population could take a sigh of relief.

But, let’s congratulate the US democrat leader Ms. Ilhan Omar for her indomitable courage who by visiting the Azad Kashmir on April 21, 2022 gave a bump to PM Modi and to the entire Indian regime.

The Indian establishment got yet another shock when Ms. Omar-the US lawmaker, upon meeting the President of Azaz Kashmir Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry, talked to the media wherein she said, “I don’t believe that [Kashmir] is being talked about to the extent it needs to in US Congress but also with the [U.S.] administration”.

Media sources say that Ms. Omar prior to the press conference had visited the military Line of Control, or the de facto border separating Pakistani and Indian-ruled parts of the divided territory.

It was a daring act of Ms. Ilhan Omar indeed.

Her remarks made in front of the press men were heard in Washington and Delhi at a time.

How Delhi could have reacted to her statement is anybody’s guess, however, Ms. Omar’s blunt notes forced the US administration to act.

Later, the sitting US Ambassador in Islamabad Donald Blome’s visit to Muzaffarabad, October 2-4, 2022, stunned not only India but also those countries that for a variety of political considerations appear more than pleased to enhance their commercial ties with India and in doing so these countries damage their own excellent ties with India’s rival-Pakistan.

Our own sources in South Asia say that the sudden rush of the US Ambassador Blome to Muzaffarabad last year end may have sent several signals to India and the countries across the globe that visibly favor Indian stances on Kashmir including the helpless-show piece UN Security Council which has already made several resolutions in the past on amicable solutions to the Kashmir imbroglio but all in vain so far.

Some even say that the entire UN system is under the visible influence of the Indian officials posted at the UN system. Indians work hard comparatively than their immediate rivals, needless to reiterate.

The Indian lobby inside the UN premises is definitely strong.

While in Muzaffarabad,, media sources say, the Ambassador also visited the Quaid-e-Azam Memorial Dak Bungalow, the Red Fort, and the Jalalabad Garden, symbols of the cultural and historical richness of Pakistan. Meeting with members of the 950-person strong Muzaffarabad chapter of the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network.

Most important of it all was among the various events, the US envoy planted a sapling at ‘University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (UAJK)’ and laid a wreath to the victims of the 2005 earthquake.

This was a symbolic gesture indeed from the US to Pakistan with “love and respect”.

The US envoy’s visit emblematically conveyed a subtle message to India, however, Pakistan failed to keep pace with the sudden trip planned by the US envoy.

Looking at the events, the US envoy’s attendance in Muzaffarabad had political significance, however, the monotonous acts of the Pakistani authorities in Islamabad appears to have diluted the US presence in Muzzaffarabad to the gain of the Indian regime.

The US presence ought to have been exploited for political and diplomatic benefits which were lacking thus the entire occasion went in vain and by default it politically benefited the rival country-India.

It is not that recognized international players have not talked on Kashmir issue, they have talked in abundance.
Some big powers had intended to be of substantial support to Pakistan, however, something went amiss in the process that weakened the rhythm thus created by big powers such as the US envoy and the US lawmaker Ms. Omar’s visit to Pakistan administered Kashmir.

No less was encouraging the German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock’s rare patronage, as reported by the Voice of America, October 9, 2023, for Islamabad’s stance on the territorial rivalry, who had reiterated that Berlin had a “role and responsibility” with regard to the tension over Kashmir”.

The German Minister Annalena Baerbock on October 7, 2022 making in Berlin a special reference to the India Occupied Jammu and Kashmir had stated that “Germany supports the U. N. role in resolving the Kashmir dispute, and praised the LoC (Line of Control) cease fire agreement of February 2021, and also called for a “political” dialogue between India and Pakistan”.

Pakistan failed to cash in upon the German Minister’s reiteration on Kashmir.

The German minister’s active support must have been diplomatically cashed by Pakistan.

For example, Pakistan should have followed up in an appropriate diplomatic manner the visit of Ms. Ilhan Omar, the US Ambassador Donald Blome’s and also of the powerful remarks/comments made by the German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

However, the fact is that no follow up afterwards was made by the respective Pakistani envoys based either in the US or in Berlin which have made Pakistani efforts as regards the Kashmir dispute feeble much to the clear advantage of the Indian regime.

In addition, Pakistan has so far failed in taking other SAARC friendly countries into confidence on Kashmir matters which then again is to the grand gain of the oppressive Indian regime.

For example, when the German Foreign Minister last October made strong remarks on Kashmir and that too in the very presence of the Pakistani Foreign Minister B. Bhutto, the Pakistani envoy based in Germany must have taken up the issue with the German press through a media conference and tried to impress upon the domestic media to the benefit of the Kashmiri population.

But sadly, no efforts as such were made either in the US or anywhere in the world’s powerful capitals.
It is these diplomatic “deficiency” of Pakistan which adds, like it or not, to the strength of the competing Indian regime in many more ways than one.

Having said this let’s come to the point once again:

A January 25, 2023, news in the Hindustan Times reports that some time in the recent weeks the Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called for a “serious and sincere talks” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resolve outstanding issues.
In an interview with Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV recently, the Pakistani Prime Minister offered sincere talks with India for settling the Kashmir dispute.

The Pakistani PM made this modest appeal to his Indian counterpart. However, the Indian response to the Pakistani appeal is missing so far.

But yet the Pakistani call to the Indian PM drew the attention of the US State Department.

Ned Price of the State Department has made some comments which are as follows: “We have long called for regional stability in South Asia. That’s certainly what we want to see. We want to see it advanced.”

He further states that “When it comes to our partnership, our partnerships with India and Pakistan, these are relationships that stand on their own. We do not see these relationships as zero-sum. They stand on their own,” he added.

This means that the US values its relations with Pakistan equally as it awards attention to its ties with the Indian regime.

Ned Price purposely avoid to reiterate that the US has enhanced relations with India as the latter is a member of the US designed security conglomerate -the QUAD that comprises of Australia, Japan, the US and India.

Some even explain that the Quad is a “China containing mechanism”.

However, the US side appears “reluctant” in offering its good offices to settle the lingering Kashmir dispute barring Donald Trump’s offer of “mediation”.

President Trump had talked of the US mediation on Kashmir while meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan in the White House.

No less illuminating was the remarks made by the Kashmiri leader Mehbooba Mufti last July, 2023.

The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, President Mehbooba Mufti had urged Indian Prime Minister Modi to declare Jammu and Kashmir a peace zone and make it a model of SAARC cooperation by opening all routes across the Line of Control (LoC) and allowing every member country to invest in the region”.

When the SAARC is killed by the Indian regime, Madame Mufti’s proposition appears more than her wishful thinking and nothing more than that.

Kashmir Solidarity Day: The Kathmandu based Pakistan embassy, February 6, 2023, held a Round Table Discussion on “Kashmir Solidarity Day”. The regular annual event was attended by journalists, writers and analysts as well as human rights activists.

On the absence of Pakistani Ambassador in Nepal at the current moment, the officiating Charge de’ Affaires Mr. Umair Ali recalled the genesis of the long-festering dispute and numerous UNSC resolutions which enshrined the promise not just from the United Nation but from the international community to the people of Jammu and Kashmir about their right to self- determination. The non-implementation of these resolutions had subjected several generations of the people of IIOJK to grave injustices, sufferings and jeopardized the peace and stability of the entire region.

At the end of the discussion program on Kashmir-Solidarity day, the attending participants expressed serious concern(s) over the worsening human rights situation in Kashmir.

That’s all.


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