Something big happened few days ago with regard to Pak-India relations but that incident got little attention in the Pakistani media due to the country’s current political turmoil. Thus, Pakistani news channels –unlike Indian media – forgot to pay attention to any worth-focusing development taking place in the country’s foreign affairs.
25th August 2014 was the date scheduled for high-level talks between foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan to revive the stalled dialogue between the two countries. As part of the ‘longstanding practice’ – as called by the Pakistan official – Pakistani High Commissioner sent invitations to Hurriyat leaders for a meeting in Delhi before the dialogue could be initiated with the Indian officials. Though the practice was not something out of the way and had been happening in the past as well, it flared up the Indian government and hence we witnessed the dialogue being called off by India. The action was justified by claiming that Pakistan had made an attempt to interfere in the ‘internal affairs’ of India. The very reason provided sounds to be a very lame excuse for cancelling a dialogue that could have been a very important one for the peace process between the two historically hostile neighbors to flourish.
It is an internationally known fact that the major point of conflict between India and Pakistan is the Kashmir dispute. Even the Kashmiri leaders have always shown their willingness to have the Kashmir dispute resolved by political means and negotiations between representatives of India, Pakistan and Kashmir. This new narrative of India to call Kashmir dispute its internal matter turns out to be a highly absurd pretext. Kashmir is a declared disputed territory which needs to be resolved as per UN resolutions which says:
“The question of the accession of the State of Kashmir to India or Pakistan shall be decided through the democratic method of a plebiscite”
Therefore, Pakistan is definitely a party which cannot be excluded if a permanent solution to Kashmir issue is to be found. Even if the Shimla Agreement is taken into account, India does maintain that Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue which shall be settled through negotiations between India and Pakistan. In such a scenario, in no way does Kashmir dispute become an internal matter of India and hence, Pakistan has full authority to seek solution to this dispute in all possible and positive ways. Since the Kashmiri leaders are the representatives of their people, it is the only rational way to seek solution of this dispute by taking them in confidence and listening to the real voice of Kashmir.
To further justify the setback, some voices from India have been raised about the irrelevance of Hurriyat claiming that the Hurriyat leaders are no more truly representatives of the people of Kashmir.
One has to be really out of senses to buy that narrative. By telling such false stories to the world, the facts cannot be changed. And the fact remains that Indian-held Kashmir is the world’s highly militarized zones in the world. Plus, every year 15 August in Kashmir is observed as Black Day which tells a lot about the collective sentiments of the people of Kashmir. There are many similar reasons to believe that Kashmir is not content with its current state of occupation by Indian forces.
There has been a strong reaction from not only from the Indian government but also from civil society and media professionals alike against the meetings between Kashmiri leaders and Pakistani officials and what we saw was something highly insensible i.e. the Kashmir dispute being equated with the Balochistan unrest. A sane mind would be completely unable to find any relevance between the two issues where Kashmir is the biggest point of dispute between the two countries while Balochistan issue has nothing to do with India in any way.
One of the prominent journalists from India was highly excited about the fact that he got no response from the Pakistani envoy on asking how Pakistan would have felt if Indian officials had met the Baloch separatists:
Asked Pak Envoy Abdul Basit, would Pak have tolerated Indian High Commissioner meeting Baloch separatists? No answer. pic.twitter.com/ejCZiSXdkB
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) August 20, 2014
Mr. Kaul might have thought that he had thrown such a smart question that it left the Pakistani High Commissioner speechless. But maybe he doesn’t know that sometimes – as in the words of George Bernard Shaw, Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn. The people at both sides of the border have been making attempts to let peace prevail in the wake of ‘Aman ki Asha’ but such efforts can hardly have any impact on the state-level dealings unless there is a sincere willingness by the leaders for peace in the region. Such issues should not let the peace process be halted. Kashmir dispute is a reality which needs to be addressed and resolved. Turning a blind eye or putting it off won’t help the relations strengthen. In any case, when the Indian officials tell their Pakistani counterparts “You can take the Kashmiris; we just need the land” then Pakistan has the right to talk to those Kashmiris and India should not mind that at all.