Endless focus on Kashmir issue
Sajjad Shaukat


Some media anchors of Pakistan have misperceived that Islamabad has set aside the Kashmir issue due to its internal crises including subversive acts, while paying more attention on the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) with India. It is a wrong assessment as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has invited 8 members of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) to Pakistan from 15 to 22 December 2012. The aim is to begin a consultative process with the pro-movement leaders of the Indian held Kashmir to prepare suitable basis which may result into settlement of Kashmir dispute. Such visits by the Kashmiri leaders are conducive for both Pakistan and India as APHC acts as facilitator in deciding objectives which are in line with aspirations of Kashmiris.

Meanwhile, Indian hardliners and media hawks who are over-cautious over the Hurriyat leaders’ trip want to derail the Pak-India new peace initiative. They are creating obstacles to curb first formal conversation between the Kashmiri leaders and Pakistan’s rulers. They seek to increase trust deficit by causing misunderstanding between Hurriyat leaders and Pakistan, while targeting the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who said that India wanted to resolve all issues including Kashmir dispute with Pakistan through dialogue as announced by the two countries on February 10, 2011.

However, India may again show its obstinacy in issuing travel documents to the APHC leaders. In this respect, division can also be created within the Kashmiris’ leaders or New Delhi may grant permission only to few APHC leaders to visit Pakistan. As part of its delaying tactics for settlement of Kashmir issue, Indian rulers availed various crises to suspend the Pak-India talks. For example, in 2002, under the pretension of terrorist attack on the Indian parliament, New Delhi postponed the process of dialogue. Again, in 2008, India suspended the ‘composite dialogue’ under the pretext of Mumbai terror attacks which were in fact, arranged by its secret agency RAW in connivance with Indian home-grown terrorists.

India and Pakistan resumed the new phase of parleys in March, 2009. But every time, prime ministers and foreign ministers of both the countries have ended their meetings with issuance of positive notes, and vowed for the solution of real issues, particularly the core dispute of Kashmir, but the same failed without producing tangible results. Notably, on November 10, 2011, the then Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed in Maldives to improve their bilateral relations by resolving all issues. Quite contrarily, two days after that meeting, Singh stated, “I left Gilani in no doubt that if public opinion in India is not satisfied that justice is being done to those responsible to the barbarous attack of Mumbai, it would not be possible to move forward with the peace process.”

Nevertheless, on April 8, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who met in New Delhi also remarked that the two countries “are willing to find pragmatic solutions to various issues.” During the visit of India’s External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to Pakistan, Islamabad and New Delhi signed on September 9, 2012, an agreement of liberalised visa regime. Foreign Minister Khar said that with her counterpart, she discussed all the outstanding issues such as terrorism, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage, water and especially main dispute of Kashmir.

Krishna showed great optimism regarding improvement of bilateral relations. But like Singh, quite contrarily, he warned that in case of Mumbai-like incident; relations between the two countries could lapse. In fact, India is emphasising more on CBMs than to pay attention for the settlement of real issues, particularly thorny dispute of Kashmir. It is only interested in promotion of trade, friendly exchanges, relaxation of visas etc. While taking positive steps, Islamabad signed a number of trade agreemens with New Delhi, which allowed India exports of mutltiple items across the Wagah border. It also granted India Most Favoured Nation status, which permits trade in almost everything. While, Indian adamant stand during Pak-India parleys are not without some sinister designs. In fact, India is determined to keep its hold on Kashmir which is considered by it as integrated part of the Indian union.

On the otherside, despite employment of various forms of state terrorism by the Indian security forces, war of liberation continues by the Kashmiri freedom fighters. A recent report of All Parties Hurriyet Conference Azad Jammu and Kashmir disclosed that from 1989 to 15 October 2012, there have been deaths of 93,274 innocent Kashmiris, 6,969 custodial killings, 117,345 arrests and destruction of 105,861 houses. Indian brutal security forces have orphaned over 107, 351 children, widowed 22,728 women and gang raped 9,920 women in the Indian held Kashmir.

In their various reports, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also pointed out grave human rights violations in the Indian controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security forces. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act, security forces personnel have extraordinary powers to shoot suspected persons.” Nonetheless, Pakistan will continue moral, diplomatic and political support of Kashmiri brethren. It is owing to the joint efforts of Kashmiri leaders and Pakistan’s subsequent regimes that the Kashmir issue remains under endless focus in wake of Indian delaying tactics.