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Indian abrogation of Kashmir’s special status and policy options for Pakistan

On 5th August 2019, the Indian government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, abrogating articles 370 and 35-A. The former gave Kashmir the special status of having autonomy in making a constitution, its flag, and freedom in certain matters excluding defence, foreign affairs, and communication, while the latter prevent any non-local to acquire land or permanent residency in the territory. This act is regarded as a populist move to gain public support and fulfil the agenda of right-wing Hindu Nationalists and RSS who backed and sponsored the BJP’s election campaign. The annexation came as an act of boosting the slow pace of the Indian economy by exploiting the potential resources of Kashmir. This move, on one hand, is celebrated as a victory by the Indian government, on the other hand, it is criticized internally as well as externally. Although it has not incurred much international resentment, still it intrigued a massive reaction in Pakistan. Be it public protests, social media campaigns, and political actions, a national consensus was observed, followed by diplomatic drives to highlight the Indian atrocities and especially bring the attention of the international community to this illegal act of annexation.

Although it was a golden opportunity to show the world the fascist face of the RSS regime and internationalize this very issue of Kashmir, highlighting the gross human rights violations, Pakistan does raise the issue in parliament, on international forums like United Nations, and exercised Kashmir diplomacy, still, there is much to do. Firstly, there needs to be continuous policy and efforts to keep the issue in the news in contrast to ceremonial trends and symbolic protests. Involving public as well as private influencers and media channels to have an international, consistent, and in-depth voice of the people of Kashmir. Furthermore, collaborating with international media giants like Al Jazeera, TRT, Russia Today (RT), and others in bringing the grave situation out there. It will make the international community well aware of the ground realities and situation of the occupied territory. Moreover, allowing media access to and across the LoC could also be helpful.

Secondly, while keeping the world informed of the Indian atrocities out there, raising this very issue in the context of human rights violations. As Pakistan is a member of UNHCR, accusing India of its aggressive acts and the brutal force against innocent civilians and holding it accountable in accordance to the International Humanitarian Law and articles 38, 39, and 47 of the UNSC. In the light of these articles, India is threatening the peace, performing acts of aggression and the responsibility falls on Pakistan to inform UNSC of such moves respectively. Similarly, involving the human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch
(HRW) and Red Crescent can have a pivotal role in seeking international attention.

Thirdly, convincing the world community to deploy an international peacekeeping mission, as the UN has a resolution of holding a referendum in the presence of peace forces. For this, putting a motion on the table in the UN could be an instant sigh of relief for the Kashmiris. Likewise, including the war crimes, the brutal use of force, and the holding India accountable for occupying a territory illegally according to article 42 of Hague Regulation which state that imposing a hostile army makes a territory occupied. It terms the deployed 900,000 Indian troops as illegal, which is another possible option to stop severe atrocities and restore the previous status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Another post-370 option for Pakistan is to involve the global actors especially the US, China, and Russia, as these major powers have played a role in the past on Kashmir. China, somehow involved in the J&K via Laddakh, is aware of the middle ground, but there is a need to make Russia and especially the US realize the gravity of the issue. These international players have close strategic interests with Pakistan, and it is the right time to put Kashmir on the top agenda, as they offered mediation time and again.

Added to this, Pakistan’s foreign office has communicated the message and PM Imran Khan tasked himself to be the ambassador of the Kashmiris, besides, the diplomates and diplomatic missions can also inform the general public and the international community. Most importantly, the Kashmiri diaspora is another potential option for Pakistan. Empowering and reaching out to them in different parts of the world may well present and make the voice and case of Kashmir even stronger.

In short, using the tools of media, diplomacy, international laws, humanitarian grounds, power politics, alliances, interests, and mobilization measures are some of the possible options in contemporary times. Some of these means are being exercised while some await. But the key is to work on the ground and make tireless efforts not ceremonials and fanfares.

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Written by Adil Khan

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