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Cornered by Public Furore & International Compulsions, Pakistan Restarts Project Kashmir | Exclusive

By: Manoj Gupta

CNN-News18

Last Updated: June 03, 2022, 11:52 IST

A bone of contention between the neighbours has been India’s refusal for third-party mediation on the Kashmir issue. (Reuters File)

A bone of contention between the neighbours has been India’s refusal for third-party mediation on the Kashmir issue. (Reuters File)

CNN-News18 has learnt that a major shift in policy going away from the Kashmir agenda is impossible because any reconciliatory move toward India could lead to major backlash from the public

Is the recent upheaval in Kashmir a part of Pakistan’s unrelenting agenda to create a law and order situation in India? If sources are to be believed, Pakistan, which is facing intense domestic turmoil, will keep up the Kashmir bogey as it tries to navigate through the substantial polarisation in the public after the no-confidence motion and protests against the government.

CNN-News18, which has accessed the blueprint and compulsions of Pakistan, has learnt that a major shift in policy going away from the Kashmir agenda is impossible because of Pakistan’s current domestic turmoil and any reconciliatory move toward India could lead to major backlash from the public.

Sources said after the Quad meeting in Tokyo and the 4th Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan in Dushanbe, Pakistan and China are reviewing and observing the situation in the region and making a new strategy to counter the rising Indian influence.

Pakistan is also close on the heels of making an agreement with Tehreek-e-Taliban and maintaining cordial relations with Afghan Taliban so there is no threat on the Western (Pak-Afghan) border.

However, Islamabad has reservations with the recent diplomatic delegation’s visit to Kabul which is aimed at revival of diplomatic relations between New Dehli and Kabul. There is also fear that the United States is replacing Pakistan with India in Afghanistan.

Another bone of contention has been India’s refusal for third-party mediation on the Kashmir issue. India considers the matter exclusively bilateral and former US President Donald Trump’s offer to be a mediator was not received well in New Delhi. However, India’s apparent comfort with the UAE’s role as a mediator has put Pakistan on alert.

According to Pakistan, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s visit to the disputed territory show India’s specific discomfort with close ties between Washington and Islamabad, despite its own relations with the former having grown tremendously over the past decade.

Last but not the least, in the last six months, the Chief of Army Staff has visited LoC several times and conducted special meetings too.

To understand Pakistan’s motives better, let’s take a look at major statements by the top leadership on the Kashmir issue:

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif

April 11, 2022: “We will raise voice for Kashmiris brothers and sisters at every forum. We will give them diplomatic and moral support. Why do we want our coming generations to suffer? Come, let’s resolve the Kashmir issue in line with UN resolutions and Kashmiris’ expectations, so that we are able to end poverty on both sides of the border.”

April 12, 2022: “Thank you Premier Narendra Modi for felicitations. Pakistan desires peaceful and cooperative ties with India. Peaceful settlement of outstanding disputes including Jammu and Kashmir is indispensable, Pakistan’s sacrifices in fighting terrorism are well-known. Let’s secure peace and focus on the socio-economic development of our people.”

June 1, 2022: PM Sharif said the people of Pakistan deeply appreciated the Turkish leadership’s steadfast support over the Kashmir issue. Lauding the unflinching support of Turkey, he said the Kashmiris had been struggling for their legitimate right and subjected to Indian atrocities for over seven decades. He also cited the Indian government’s attempts at demographic changes in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto

May 10, 2022: Newly appointed Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari wrote a letter to the UN, highlighting the Kashmir issue and signalled that Kashmir would remain the core issue of discord. The letter addressed to the President of the UN Security Council informs, in particular, of India’s alleged attempt to carry out demographic changes in J&K, said the Pakistan Foreign Office in a statement. “These illegal measures constitute flagrant violation of international law,” he wrote.

May 19, 2022: He raised the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in his meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and emphasised that Islamabad desires peace with all its neighbours, including India, which will continue to remain elusive unless the Jammu and Kashmir issue is resolved.

May 19, 2022: Responding to questions during a press conference in New York, Bilawal Bhutto said, “As far as the question of our relationship with India is concerned, it is particularly complicated by their recent actions in Kashmir – firstly the August 5, 2019, decision to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir as well as the recent decision by the delimitation commission on Jammu and Kashmir.”

May 20, 2022: He raised the issue again with US Congressman Adam Smith in a virtual meeting. Bilawal specifically drew the Congressman’s attention to the steps recently taken by India to redraw the constituencies through an “illegal” delimitation process in order to change the Muslim majority into minority.

May 22, 2022: Bilawal “briefed the Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the latest developments in Jammu and Kashmir”, the reference to all “outstanding disputes” raised speculation whether it also alluded to the border dispute between India and China, especially the current, over two-year-long military standoff at Eastern Ladakh.

All Parties Conference

June 2, 2022: Pakistan government called an All Parties Conference (APC) to consult AJK political leadership on the prevailing situation in IIOJK in the aftermath of conviction of senior Hurriyat leader Yasin Malik, and the Indian government’s “steps to change the demography”, to devise a future strategy accordingly.

Qamar uz Zaman Qaira – Adviser to PM on Kashmir

Adviser to PM on Kashmir and GB Qamar uz Zaman Qaira said the government wanted to take the political leadership of AJK into confidence on the prevailing situation in IIOJK and would chalk out a strategy accordingly.

Additional Secretary for Asia Pacific at the Foreign Office Mumtaz Zahra said, “India has issued 4.2 million domiciles to non-Kashmiris, mainly Hindus, which is meant to show Muslims in minority in future in Jammu and Kashmir”.

AJK President Sultan Mehmood

AJK President Barrister Sultan Mehmood said India is planning to lease out land to 4,000 investors in clear violation of the status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Raja Pervez Ashraf – Speaker National Assembly

June 2, 2022: National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf said the entire Pakistani nation was perturbed and strongly condemns the punishment of Yasin Malik by Indian courts.

DG ISPR – Spokesman Pakistan Army Major General Babar Iftikhar

May 25, 2022: Pakistan strongly condemns life sentence awarded to Yasin Malik on fabricated charges. Such oppressive tactics cannot dampen the spirit of people of Kashmir in their just struggle against illegal Indian occupation. We stand with them in quest for self-determination as per UNSCRs – DG ISPR Tweet

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first published:June 03, 2022, 11:52 IST
last updated:June 03, 2022, 11:52 IST