Kashmir Situation: Choice Between War and Peace
By Agha Iqrar Haroon
Under heavy clouds of unpredictable weather at borders, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has firmly said that Pakistan as a responsible country will exercise maximum restraint and won’t ever initiate the war against India.
While addressing the International Sikh Convention in Lahore on Monday, the prime minister said that Pakistan offered to resolve long-standing issue of Kashmir with dialogue as wars are not solution to any dispute.
His statement came on the same day when Pakistan gave Consular Access to Indian spy and RAW agent Kulbhushan Jadhav in line with Vienna Convention on Consular relations, International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) judgement and the laws of Pakistan. Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia met the detained Indian Spy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. The meeting lasted for two hours and 18 minutes.
Pakistan has yet not suspended airspace for Indian air traffic despite of grave human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK) where, Indian government is busy in genocide of Kashmiri Muslims and Pakistan is also engage in dialogue with India over Kartarpur Corridor. Opposition parties in Pakistan are blaming PM Imran Khan for an underhanded deal with India through United States over Kashmir issue.
They accuse PM Khan for “fixing situation” where Pakistan will continue to offer moral support to Muslims of IoK but would not engage in providing tangible support to Kashmiris living in IoK.
Opposition also claims that deal was done when Pakistani Civil and Military leadership went to Washington in July this year.
This history of accusing a sitting Prime Ministers and his/her government for selling Kashmir is an old feature of Pakistani politics. This accusation of “selling Kashmir” is faced by every elected government since the office of elected prime minister being into existence.
First elected Prime Minister Zulifiar Ali Bhutto also faced this allegation when he had Simla Pact. The Simla Agreement, or Shimla Agreement, was signed between India and Pakistan on 2 July 1972 in Shimla, the capital city of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The agreement was the result of resolve of both the countries to “put an end to the conflict and confrontation that have hitherto marred their relations”. It conceived the steps to be taken for further normalisation of mutual relations and it also laid down the principles that should govern their future relation, particularly over Kashmir issue. The than opposition comprising of right-wing parties blamed him to sell of Kashmir but he survived the allegation for the time being because Simla Pact brought over 90,000 prisons of war to Pakistan from India. However, this allegation was used as instrument to defame Bhutto when General Ziaulh Haq suspended his government and thereafter he was hanged under murder charges.
Assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was accused of sharing lists of Sikh’s movement operators to former assassinated Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Former jailed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his right-wing allied forces managed to throw deceased Benazir Bhutto out of power through an “unseen coup” because she was tactfully tagged as “Ghadaar” (traitor) who according to opponents sold out Kashmir and cause of Pakistan to form an independent government of Sikhs under the banner of Khalistan.
Interestingly, after less than a decade, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif faced same allegations when he invited former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lahore. Vajpayee’s visited was followed by Kargil fiasco and Nawaz Sharif was tagged “traitor” and his government was removed through “seen coup” and Pakistan came under the rule of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) instead of a Martial Law Administrator—Gen Musharraf.
Military CEO of Pakistan Gen. Musharraf also went through same phase when he offered innovative formula on Kashmir during his much-debated visit to India. However, being the head of military establishment, he was neither replaced nor removed through any coup but was tagged as “seller of Kashmir” by opposition parties including Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of Benazir Bhutto, PML of Nawaz Sharif and Jamaat-e-Islami.
After Musharraf was sent home through a popular movement of lawyers, PPP came into power under blood-red clouds. By that time, Benazir Bhutto was already assassinated and PPP sailed smoothly without trapping in Kashmir issue and nothing was said against PPP government on Kashmir issue till it was replaced through elections and Nawaz Sharif again became Prime Minister.
He (Nawaz) did it again—–this time he invited PM Modi at Lahore. It was more dangerous because he invited Indian PM Modi privately and for a private event. Soon after Modi landing in Lahore Airport, Nawaz Sharif was tagged as traitor again (as before in 1999). His relations with Indian businessmen and allegations of Indians working in his business empires were some of charges out of a long list being promoted in media. His speech in UN General Assembly helped his adversaries to fuel the fire and he was perfectly painted as traitor who had sold out Kashmir to India. This tag of traitor went along with him during the election campaign of his party before 2018 General Elections in Pakistan. His party lost the elections to Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) of PM Imran Khan but his party managed to get substantial seats and over 13 million votes though he was removed before elections under Panama Leaks cases. Political observers believe that charges of corruption dented his party badly rather than charges of being a stooge of India.
Now PM Imran is facing the same criticism of selling out Kashmir and his adversaries are demanding him to run over Indo-Pak borders to stop India to purge of Muslims in Indian Occupied Kashmir.
International media as well as international human right watchdogs and even Indian media are crying over Muslim genocide like situation inside IoK and valley is facing unprecedented circumstances after India abrogated Article 370 of its constitution.
International media including BBC, TRT Turkish, Al-Jazeera, the Independent, New York Times, Eurasian News, Rambler, Linta and many more are reporting that Muslims Kashmiris are facing worst kind of purge and Indian soldiers are reportedly involved in raping Kashmiris women, girls and even boys. International media is reporting that Indian Army pick up young Kashmiris and torture them at maximum brutal level. Even India media is reporting same but with a softer look.
Now opposition in Pakistan is of the view that IoK is going through unprecedented situation but PM Imran Khan is still talking for dialogue with India. Gesture of peace of PM Khan is taken as “underhand deal” of PM Khan over Kashmir to India. He is facing same situation which was faced by Nawaz and deceased Benazir Bhutto in past.
Meanwhile supporters of PM Khan are of the view that PM Khan believes in humanity and he knows that Indo-Pak war would be the last war in this region and would be last disaster in South Asia because this war would eventually push any of two nuclear arms holders to use the dirty option. The impact of any such eventuality would not only erase South Asia from world map rather the whole world would be effected thereafter.
Some sections of Indian press and politicians are taunting Pakistan a “coward” avoiding war due to several reasons including its economic situation. Interestingly while taunting Pakistan they forget the last Indo-Pak standoff (which took place during February) left with two Indian fighter jets shot down and one Indian pilot captured in Pakistani soil. They also forget that Pakistan handed over Indian captured pilot back to Indian Air Force as goodwill gesture.
Now it looks that India and Pakistan are marching towards another standoff after India unilaterally included Indian Occupied Kashmir into mainland on August 5, 2019 by surpassing and running over several resolutions of United Nations.
United Nations has categorically confirmed again that Kashmir is still a live dispute and it must be settled down under UN resolutions including United Nations Security Council Resolutions number 47, adopted on 21 April 1948 which categorically stated that Kashmir would be decided through Plebiscite.
Pakistan and India engaged in one full war over Kashmir in 1965 and one standoff called “Kargil Standoff” since 1948 but got nothing from these wars except deaths at both sides.
In 1965 war, both countries had no nuclear option. While Kargil Standoff was mitigated through active support of US President Clinton who pushed both countries away from war because he knew that any war in South Asia could end up with usage of deadly choice—nuclear warhead.
Sane voices are coming from Indian and Pakistani intellectuals, journalists, former military and civil bureaucrats and peace-monger. Even Indian and Pakistani parliamentarians are raising voices for neutralization of the situation.
Even a wider section of Indian media believes that India is right now under ruled by brutal fascism and Modi government only represents a small but strong section of extremist Hindus who wish to throw all non-Hindus out from Bharat. Lynching people for eating beef is more than insanity but this is happening in India which according to its Constitutions is a Secular State.
There is no doubt left that BJP government and extremists are provoking Pakistan for a war since they came into power in New Delhi without thinking about consequences of a war even it would not be a nuclear one.
There was (is) no nuclear risk in Afghanistan war, Iraq-Iran war and now in Russian-Ukraine conflict in Eastern Ukraine. How many people had been killed, displaced and lost their families forever? Do we have thorough figures?
Recent reports of The Independent, BBC, TRT News, daily the Hindu, Al-Jazeera News, NDTV, India Today indicate that Modi is pushing both countries towards active conflict by purging Muslims in IoK. UN Human Rights Committee, Human Right Watch and Genocide Watch reports are actually supporting Pakistani stance and world must respond to Kashmir situation before it is too late for humanity.
I am not a peace-monger just because I wish peace rather I am a peace-monger because I covered wars as reporter and I know what wars and conflicts left behind them.
One can have political differences with PM Imran Khan but his posture, call for peace, quest for avoiding almost imposed-war show that he really believes that South Asia can lead the world if Pakistan and India solve issues through dialogue rather than letting hawks win and vultures eat bodies.
Choice between War and Peace is difficult for short-sighted leaders but easy for those who understand that war is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace as said by German novelist and Nobel Prize in Literature Thomas Mann.
Author is Agha Iqrar Haroon is a Development Observer. His area of work includes Central Asia, South Asia and Eastern European regions
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