By Imran Malik
Kashmir, the most probable of all global nuclear flashpoints, continues to fester as a bleeding wound on the comatose conscience of the world. The inhuman and criminal Indian Army crackdown against the ongoing indigenous “intifada” in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) and the blistering volatility astride the LOC/Working Boundary (WB) portend critical instability and conflict in the region and beyond.
The paradox is alarming; although the Kashmir issue threatens a possible nuclear winter in one of the world’s most populous and sensitive regions, yet the international community seems callously oblivious to and deliberately incognizant of the inherent dangers and their global ramifications.
It needs to wake up and take note!
The international community appears to be dealing with the Kashmir issue in the same manner as it did with the Palestine issue – a deliberate diminution of a global problem down to the level of an inert non- issue. It was gradually denigrated in importance from a global flashpoint to one restricted to the Islamic world, then limited to the Arab world only, further toned down to a regional ME issue, then to a PLO- Israel bilateral predicament till now it has been degraded to only an issue of terrorism between Hamas and Israel- and made very manageable!
The same methodology is being applied to the Kashmir issue. It acquired global proportions in 1948 when the UNSC passed a Resolution for resolving it through a free plebiscite. Thereafter, despite the 1948, 1965 and 1971 wars the UNSC showed little inclination to resolve it. The Kashmir issue came to the fore again in 1972 when the infamous Simla Agreement was signed. In one fell swoop it was degraded from sensitive global dimensions to a mere bilateral tiff between India and Pakistan. Later on it was further reduced to one of the many points of a dysfunctional “composite dialogue”. The Indians are now trying to further denigrate it to a simple case of trans-LOC terrorism by Pakistan and want to discuss nothing but this with it!
Kashmir, however, cannot be similarly reduced to “manageable proportions”. Unlike Palestine, Kashmir is now the world’s foremost nuclear flashpoint and unlike the Arab world’s attitude towards Palestine, Pakistan’s commitment to Kashmir is profound and unshakeable.
The Simla Agreement provides a bilateral conflict resolution platform. However, all Indian Governments since and particularly the current Modi Government has contemptuously violated it in letter and spirit. PM Modi has shown scant interest to discuss Kashmir bilaterally much less on any other forum. Then why should Pakistan feel unilaterally beholden to an agreement that has not been implemented by the other side ever since? Pakistan must seek a diplomatic way out of the Simla Agreement. Failing which, it should unilaterally renounce it for having persistently failed its primary raison de etre – the practical resolution of the Kashmir issue on a bilateral basis!
Pakistan must rescue and unshackle the Kashmir issue from the forced apathy of the UNSC, the studied indifference of the major powers of the world, the arrogant denial of its existence by India and from the debilitating shackles of the defunct Simla Agreement. The stranglehold of the Indian Army’s brutal presence and crackdown in IHK must also be broken, post haste. The UN has failed singularly to make any progress on the issue for the last sixty nine years; the Simla Agreement for the last forty five years. Pakistan and Kashmir cannot wait timelessly for India to discuss the issue bilaterally, at its pleasure. Therefore, the situation demands that Pakistan must wrest the initiative and forcefully internationalize the Kashmir issue. India has given us the opportunity by taking the Kulbushan Yadav case to the ICJ. We must take it there and much further beyond.
The Simla Agreement has been overtaken by the evolving regional environment too and is now totally redundant. The US (Afghanistan), Russia (Afghanistan, SCO) and China (Afghanistan, SCO, OBOR, CPEC) have made their respective ingresses into the wider region initiating massive reorientations and realignments therein. The cross currents of their conflicting national interests are further compounding an already complicated regional strategic environment. And it is in this multidimensional and complex milieu we find the two trigger happy sub-continental nuclear powers sitting eyeball to eyeball without any mutually acceptable conflict resolution methodology between them. Any explosive situation in IHK or astride the LOC/WB might potentially acquire nuclear dimensions. These major powers in the region now have a role to play; the UN and bilateralism have both been resounding failures thus far.
It therefore becomes imperative for the UNSC-led international community to get seriously re-involved in resolving the Kashmir issue. It could take the form of a P5+1 type mission (a la Iran’s nuclear program). As a first step it must intercede to stop the brutalization of the IHK society and its people at the hands of the Indian Armed Forces. A fact finding mission by the UNSC/P5+1 must be sent to IHK immediately. It must also seek a repeal of the draconian and inhuman laws that give the Indian LEAs unprecedented and totalitarian powers to ruthlessly pound the Kashmiris with. Furthermore, it must get oversight of the LOC/WB by getting India to grant members of the UNMOGIP access to it. The LOC/WB could thus become pacified again and a ceasefire agreement worked out. The UNSC/P5+1 led international community must also forestall a wider conflict from ensuing that may acquire nuclear dimensions. The OBOR/CPEC can and will become the gateways of economic prosperity for the peoples of the sub continent. The UNSC/P5+1 led international community must make that a reality by helping resolve Kashmir and all other issues between Pakistan and India. It could even have the Simla Agreement implemented under its oversight or failing which manage its timely termination. Most importantly, the UN led international community must enforce the relevant UN Resolution on Kashmir.
A just resolution of the Kashmir issue is inevitable. It will unshackle the destinies of all peoples of the subcontinent. A nervous world however continues to view this issue and the indigenous “intifada” in IHK with an ominous sense of anticipation and foreboding!