As expected, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif raked up the Kashmir issue in his debut speech at the 77th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), contending that abrogation of Article 370 by New Delhi was “illegal”. Sharif’s predecessor Imran Khan had repeatedly mentioned the same at various forums including the UNGA, but being an absurd claim, this viewpoint found no traction with the UN or international community. Thus, it’s obvious that as Islamabad has no logical argument to support its weak Kashmir narrative, it continues to beat the same dead horse.
Sharif also alleged that Indian actions in Kashmir had undermined “the prospects of peace and inflamed regional tensions” and that the relentless campaign of repression against Kashmiris has grown both in scale and scope due to increased military deployment. He also raised the bogey of New Delhi trying to turn Kashmir into a Hindu-majority territory through illegal demographic changes. Reiterating that Pakistanis had always stood by its “Kashmiri brothers and sisters” and will continue to do so until their right to self-determination was fully realized in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
However, it’s unlikely that Sharif’s attempt to strike an emotional chord with Kashmiris by his display of solidarity will have the impact that Sharif expects and there are two reasons for this. Firstly, the people of Kashmir have been hearing this hollow assurance for the past 75 years, and secondly, if Islamabad is truly a well-wisher of the Kashmiris and genuinely wants a “peaceful resolution’ of the Kashmir issue, then it would not be sponsoring militancy that has brought untold grief and miseries upon the people.
Prior to Sharif’s UNGA address, Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had also raised the Kashmir issue in New York. While there’s nothing wrong in doing so, but at a time when Pakistan is devastated by floods, by raking up the Kashmir issue and linking it to any thaw in Indo-Pak relations, Bilawal has only demonstrated how misplaced Islamabad’s priorities are. So, it’s amply clear that Sharif’s statement at UNGA about Pakistan’s desire to have peaceful relations with everyone, including India, is but mere rhetoric.
Islamabad is under the false impression that lies can be passed off as truth by continuously repeating it, and when this doesn’t happen, it starts accusing all and sundry of apathy. Conversely, New Delhi’s stand on Kashmir is more nuanced and as its arguments are not only logical, but are also supported by hard facts, they are well received. For example, while Sharif made several accusations ranging from human rights violations to religious persecution of minorities in India, he didn’t provide any credible evidence to support his claims.
New Delhi, on the other hand, convincingly countered Islamabad’s claim of its desire of seeking peace with its neighbours. Exercising the right of reply, First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN Mijito Vinito demolished Sharif’s sham peace overtures by saying, “A polity that claims it seeks peace with its neighbours would never sponsor cross-border terrorism. Nor would it shelter planners of the horrific Mumbai terrorist attacks, disclosing their existence only under pressure from the international community."
He also exposed Pakistan’s perfidy by highlighting that “such a country would not make unjustified and untenable territorial claims against neighbours. It would not covet their lands and seek to illegally integrate them with its own. But it is not just about the neighbourhood that we have heard false claims today."
As Islamabad is impervious to reasoning, there can be no two views that unless a strong message is sent to Pakistan and its all-weather friend China to stop supporting the UN-designated terrorists, any hope of terrorism vanishing from the world would remain a pipe dream. Both are weakening the UN sanctions regime with their “double-standards on terrorism”.
At the UNSC session on ‘Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts’, it was agonising to witness the Secretary General’s report focusing only on the ISIS [Daesh] activities and there was no mention of Pak-based terrorist groups operating in India. Indian envoy to UN Ruchira Kamboj severely criticised the lackadaisical and subjective approach of the UN on the issue of terrorism. Without mincing any words, she stated that “the credibility of the UN sanctions regime is at an all-time low”. She also expressed disappointment at countries putting a technical hold on “genuine and evidence-based listing proposals pertaining to some of the most notorious terrorists in the world”.
The Indian envoy also pointed out that it was the “double standards and continuing politicisation” of the sanctions committee which is responsible for the ineffective performance of the UN sanctions regime and demanded that the practice of putting a technical hold on genuine and evidence-based listing proposals for notorious terrorists must come to an end. So, it’s time that the UN takes up the issue of support to terrorists by these two countries seriously to ensure success on the counter-terrorism front.
As India is a victim of terrorism and is bearing the brunt of Pakistan-sponsored proxy war, it must take credible steps to create an enabling environment for constructive global engagement to garner international support against Pakistan’s state policy of using terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy. New Delhi must adopt a more proactive policy to counter the false propaganda launched by Pakistan and its attempts to ensure that peace doesn’t prevail in Kashmir.
The author is editor of Brighter Kashmir, author, TV commentator, political analyst and columnist. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.