Tuesday, 19 November, 2019
Pakistan on course of pursuing robust Kashmir policy

Pakistan on course of pursuing robust Kashmir policy

By Saqib Akbar

Pakistan is a globally accepted party to the Kashmir dispute. But the policies of the Pakistani governments have lacked consistency regarding this very important issue. Most of the time Pakistan has been issuing conventional statements expressing sympathy with the Kashmiri people while responding to the Indian brutalities against them. But now it seems that the present dispensation at Islamabad has decided to pursue the Kashmir cause in an assertive and robust manner. This is evident from Pakistan’s immediate and highest level response to the latest spate of civilian killings that occurred in occupied Kashmir during past some days. To this end, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan while strongly condemning the killing of innocent Kashmiri civilians by the Indian troops in Pulwama area of occupied Kashmir said his country will raise issue of India's human rights violations in the occupied territory at the global level and demand the United Nations to fulfil its commitment to hold plebiscite in Kashmir. He said that only dialogue and not violence and killings will resolve this conflict.

The National Assembly of Pakistan on Monday, December 17, 2018 passed a resolution with consensus condemning the recent killing of 11 Kashmiris and other grave human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, besides urging the international community to play its role in resolving the long-standing dispute. On this occasion, the Government and Opposition members denounced the atrocities being committed by the Indian forces against the Kashmiris and expressed complete solidarity with brave Kashmiri people who have been engaged in peaceful protests to demand their right to self-determination. They also deplored the criminal silence of international community and the hypocritical policies adopted by the global powers with regard to the Kashmir dispute. 

Earlier, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held an extensive press conference on the Kashmir situation and informed about various measures so far taken in this regard and also talked about the steps to be taken in future to highlight the Kashmir cause. Referring to the killings that took place in occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday (December 15, 2018), he said there is no example in the recent past when so many people were killed in a single day in occupied Kashmir. He said world has turned a blind eye to widespread atrocities perpetrated against the Kashmiris. He said even assuming that the Kashmir dispute is not the priority of the world community, but that he was not talking about the [Kashmir] issue, but was talking about humanity. "Even if you have some difficulty raising your voice about the Kashmir issue, there shouldn't be any hesitance raising your voice against the brutality towards humans," he added. He said the international community should speak against the injustices that the people in occupied Kashmir are facing. Qureshi recalled the victims of attacks by Indian occupation forces — including those who have lost their lives and those who have suffered injuries because of pellet guns. He said what could be bigger human problem than taking someone’s life and blinding someone. He said he was hopeful that the world would raise its voice against Indian state terrorism. Qureshi told the media that prior to his press conference, he had written letters to the UN secretary general, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights — who had also released a report on abuses in Kashmir in June 2018, and to the OIC secretary general. In light of Saturday's escalation in occupied Kashmir, the foreign minister said he has asked the officials to intervene with haste so that people could get relief from this brutality. He said that he has also spoken to the OIC secretary general on the phone and requested him to call a ministerial meeting of the OIC conflict group. He said that Pakistan is ready to hold such meeting.

After Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s presser, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation strongly condemned the recent killing of innocent Kashmiris by the brutal Indian forces in Pulwama. The OIC General Secretariat condemning this terrorist act called upon the international community to play its role to reach a just and lasting solution to the conflict in Kashmir in accordance with the relevant international resolutions adopted by the OIC and the UN Security Council and fulfill the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission also deplored the recent wave of violence against civilians and called on Indian government to allow its fact finding mission to visit occupied Kashmir.

During the above mentioned press conference as well as at an earlier occasion, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had announced that an international conference on Kashmir would be held on February 5 next year in London to highlight Indian atrocities and also express solidarity with the Kashmiri people. He said that he would invite the leaders of all political parties to participate in this conference. He said they and the Kashmiri community living in the UK would raise their voice in support of the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination on the occasion. 

Various Government and Opposition members also expressed their great concern in and outside the National Assembly over the ongoing atrocities and brutalities being perpetrated against the innocent Kashmiris by Indian forces. This once again has made it clear that all the political parties of Pakistan are on the same page when it comes to Kashmir and all deem it a national issue.

Perhaps the most important speech delivered in the National Assembly on the issue of Kashmir was that of Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari. She said the PTI government will devise a comprehensive and robust policy in order to resolve the dispute over Kashmir peacefully. She acknowledged that the past Pakistani governments remained confined to issuing traditional statements of providing political, diplomatic and moral support when Kashmir was bleeding. She questioned would we remain silent if Pulwama kind of a tragedy doesn’t occur. All these happenings and the reactions coming over the acts of barbarism and brutalities by Indian forces against innocent and unarmed Kashmiri people reflect that the current Pakistani leadership has decided that it will not merely issue customary statements on Kashmir, but will take practical steps to highlight before the world the atrocities that the people in occupied Kashmir are facing on daily basis as well as advocating the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination on all global forums. . 

The fact is that Pakistan and the Kashmiris have a much strong case on the dispute over Kashmir than on many other issues of the world. But unfortunately due to lack of foresight and courage shown by our past rulers, no significant progress could be made on this vital issue. The Government could advocate the cause of the oppressed people of Kashmir more forcefully and courageously by first making Pakistan strong from within.

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