Changing Indo-Pak one-sided game
Pakistan has demanded restoration of Article 370 as an additional rider to resume trade with India
Pakistan is in the midst of its worst flood in decades; almost a third of the country is submerged under the water. So far 1,100 people, including 380 children, have lost their lives. Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended heartfelt condolences to victims of flood in Pakistan.
Yet it doesn't appear Pakistan's perception towards India will ever change. Rather Pakistan, under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, is constantly snipping at the heels of India on the abrogation of Article 370.
It has continuously claimed that India is violating human rights in Kashmir by suppressing the freedom and genuine demands of Kashmiris by massive deployment of security forces. It has accused India of changing demography in Kashmir.
Pakistan raises Kashmir in every global forum, even if the topic under discussion is vastly different. It rejects its own origin terrorists killed or arrested in Kashmir, despite them admitting it. All eliminated local terrorists are termed in Pakistan media as freedom fighters, fighting for a just cause. It links the scenario in Kashmir with Palestine. For Pakistan, anything and everything is Kashmir.
Simultaneously, Pakistan’s leadership raises resolution of Kashmir based on implementation of UNSC resolutions as a prerequisite to peace and stability in South Asia. It ignores the fact that these have been rendered redundant since the Shimla agreement and the Lahore declaration. India is compelled to respond to Pakistan’s accusations to clear the atmosphere, mainly in global forums. The world watches while the two nations shadow box.
Pakistan recently added restoration of article 370 as an additional rider to even resume trade. Believing itself to be the defender of Muslims, Pakistan continues to point out any incident involving Muslims and Islam in India. Its social media organizations drum up an anti-India bias across the globe, aimed at projecting India as Islamophobic. There are occasions when India has to employ its diplomatic weight to counter Pakistan’s fake social media narratives.
There is no doubt that Pakistan lacks a global voice on international subjects hence is compelled to concentrate on India, commenting even on subjects which do not concern it. A recent case was Pakistan rejecting the Indian government’s action of dismissing those responsible for the accidental Brahmos missile launch.
Pakistan has finally given up hopes of ever hosting a SAARC summit, aware India is uninterested. Indo-Pak rivalry has resulted in the demise of the SAARC.
India, on the other hand, is open to dialogue on outstanding issues but only on the condition that Pakistan stops support to terrorism. Till then, India refuses to engage with Pakistan on any forum, regional or global. India ignores comments of Pakistan on Kashmir or on other internal matters, unless raised on multinational platforms. India continues to push the UNSC to nominate known Pakistani terrorist leaders as global terrorists, which are subsequently blocked by China on technical grounds. It rarely criticizes Pakistan on its handling of minorities.
India has never accused Pakistan of human rights violations on its own citizens or suppression of its population in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan (GB). India has never raised PoK or the suffering of its citizens in any global forum, while Pakistan continues to rake up Kashmir in the UNSC using Chinese support. India then has to bank on its allies to suppress these discussions. Kashmir has been discussed in the UNSC on multiple occasions, PoK hardly. India assumes that it has effectively isolated Pakistan diplomatically and hence its comments have little value.
It is a known fact that Pakistan is violating human rights in almost all its provinces, less Punjab, most grossly against Baloch, Pashtuns and Kashmiris. Historically Baluchistan was never a part of Pakistan but was annexed by application of force similar to its actions in POK and GB. Without any diplomatic support being provided to the Baloch, their suffering continues unabated. Their freedom fighters challenge Pak troops and the CPEC but with no international backing. There are reports of thousands of Baloch missing, rapes, torture and enforced disappearances. Everyday unmarked graves are discovered.
Pakistan’s human rights abuses do not make global headlines because nations like India maintain silence. The fact that those facing abuse are also humans is being ignored. Raising Pakistan’s abuses in global forums would embarrass it and compel it to defend itself rather than falsely accuse other nations.
Global bodies of Baloch, Pashtuns, Kashmiris and Sindhi’s regularly object to Pakistan’s mistreatment of their community outside UN offices in New York and Geneva. They need a strong global voice and diplomatic support, which India can provide.
India did display its intent, but never followed it up. In August 2016, Pakistan dedicated its Independence Day to the separatist movement in Kashmir. In retaliation, PM Modi became the first PM to comment on Pakistan’s handling of its provinces. He stated, “I want to speak a bit about the people in Balochistan, GB and PoK.” He added that it was time for Pakistan to explain to the world “why it has been committing atrocities on people in PoK and Balochistan.” These words were never followed up.
Pakistan was compelled to retaliate to PM Modi’s comments. It never stated that the Indian PM was wrong in his accusations but blamed India for supporting the Baloch uprising, adding it was an internal matter. Its then advisor on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz mentioned that PM Modi’s remarks “only proved Pakistan's contention that India through its main intelligence agency RAW, has been fomenting terrorism in Baluchistan.” There were similar views from many others. If one comment from an Indian leader could shake Pakistan and force multiple responses, regular pointing of Pakistan’s illegal and anti-humanity actions could cause it to rethink. After all, the freedom enjoyed in Kashmir is a dream in POK, GB or even Balochistan.
India would be doing humanity a favour by raising Pakistan’s inhuman behaviour towards its own populace by its army. Protests against enforced disappearances are a common occurrence in Pakistan but ignored. Every Pakistani is aware of the manner in which its army treats its populace in far-flung regions but are helpless to act. Orders from courts have no value and any human rights activist or journalist raising them, vanishes. No one dares question their army.
Suppressed residents of Pakistan, cry for a sane global voice to pull them out of their misery. India could be that voice. We have supported many suffering across the globe but ignored those close to home. Such an action would also suit India as it could compel Pakistan to look inwards prior to throwing false accusations at it. This one-sided game would then be played on a level playing field.
***The writer is a security and strategic affairs commentator; views expressed are his own