Time for a diplomatic initiative on Kashmir

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TWO years ago today, the Hindu-nationalist Indian government led by Narendra Modi unilaterally scrapped the special status of India-occupied Kashmir by revoking constitution’s Article 370 and subsequently unleashing a reign of terror.

This was followed by the imposition of curfews by New Delhi which also disconnected telephone lines and internet facilities in the valley. The people of occupied Kashmir have been facing Indian atrocities since then, especially at the hands of the additional troops that had been sent to quell the backlash.

There has been a communication blackout since then and not much has been heard in mainstream media about the misery of the Kashmiris over the last two years. While the Kashmiris have been facing Indian oppression for long, their misery has been further compounded by the Covid outbreak.

Pakistan has highlighted the plight of the Kashmiris at international forums. While the world’s response in this regard, generally speaking, is nothing but disappointing, a few friendly countries have raised their voice for the oppressed people of occupied Kashmir.

In fact, some Muslim countries were even reluctant to call out India for its barbaric actions in the disputed territory. To Pakistan’s shock, some, fearing Indian backlash, were initially unwilling to even call a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the issue.

Pakistan’s proactive role in the beginning was greatly successful in presenting the case of Kashmir before the international community. However, with the passage of time, that zeal seems to have diminished owing to domestic and regional issues.

The ceasefire agreement between Pakistan and India along the Line of Control (LoC) early this year gave a renewed hope for talks and peaceful resolution of all issues. However, the agreement has failed to deliver any positive result so far.

Instead, India has been more rigid and has adopted a hostile attitude in recent times. To make things worse, India has recently taken over as the president of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the current month. This does not seem a coincidence as we are today marking the second anniversary of the illegal Aug 5 action.

New Delhi will certainly cash in on the UNSC presidency and try harder to block any move related to Kashmir at the UN. Now Pakistan is left with one option; and that is the regional level. Islamabad must ensure that the upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) meeting is held in Pakistan at any cost. At that meeting, Pakistan, in collaboration with other members, should put more pressure on India to restore the specific status of occupied Kashmir.

Similarly, Pakistan, along with China and Russia, should call an emergency meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to address the pressing issues of Afghanistan and Kashmir.

This is time for regional diplomacy and Pakistan must take the initiative.

Rahman Rasheed

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Disclaimer: Time for a diplomatic initiative on Kashmir - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view

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