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Kashmir: politics or politics

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Once the plebiscite proposed by the UN Security Council is held under the auspices of the United Nations and the people of Kashmir decide to join Pakistan, they will still have the option of being independent or staying with the United Nations. Pakistan. By reiterating his pledge, Prime Minister Imran Khan added a new dimension to Pakistan’s principled position on the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir.

The declaration assumes that one day a free and fair plebiscite will be held under the auspices of the United Nations and that the people of Kashmir will vote for membership in Pakistan. Soon Islamabad will unilaterally hold some sort of referendum for the people of Kashmir to decide whether they still want to stay with Pakistan or be an independent entity. The declaration also assumes that Pakistan would have the support of other stakeholders like India and China to give the option of independence to the Kashmiris. It further assumes that Parliament, officials, the judiciary, armed forces, media and over 220 million Pakistanis would have no objection to living alongside an independent Kashmir.

To begin with, this “commitment” needs to be understood in context as to whether it was a policy announcement or just a political statement. Responding to the opposition’s apprehension that he might turn Azad Jammu and Kashmir into a province, Prime Minister Imran Khan set out a sort of roadmap for the final settlement of the Kashmir dispute. On the surface, it was a political statement that actually served the purpose. Despite the many ifs and buts attached to it, the “promise” arguably turned out to be the deciding factor in the recent elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. PTI’s decisive victory speaks volumes about the magic that this “promise” possessed latent.

Politicians around the world appear to be permitted to issue a number of statements in order to address certain issues of immediate concern, leaving the outcome to future generations or to be cited and misquoted at appropriate times. Following Gandhi’s directive, it was Indian Prime Minister Nehru who pledged to organize a plebiscite in Kashmir in 1947, a promise never kept either by him or by several of his successors. Did heaven fall just because a Prime Minister made a promise that was not kept during his lifetime? Do you remember all those promises and promises of reconstruction of Afghanistan and their fate?

The absence of a clarification from the Foreign Ministry does not help to confirm the nature of the “pledge”. Therefore, those who might view it as a policy statement would be right in their assessment and would raise many questions as to its timing, rationale, practicality, authenticity and relevance, especially in the context of the India’s bold actions taken on August 5, 2019. Does Pakistan have the necessary support from India, China, the United States and the UN to turn this road map into reality? What are the factors that would make the existing mute international community suddenly favorable to Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir dispute? After taking decisive action on the status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir two years ago, how would India agree or be persuaded to conduct a plebiscite, a legitimate demand to which New Delhi categorically does not agree. not answered in the past seven decades? Why wouldn’t the Kashmiris have insisted on having the third option at the time of the UN-sponsored plebiscite if they knew they would be given that choice anyway? Following the emergence of an independent Kashmir, what if other provinces in Pakistan also claim a similar prerogative? What will be the status of Gilgit Baltistan? Would the people of Azad and occupied Jammu and Kashmir think the same? What if they do? What if they don’t? Last but not least, can the Pakistani Prime Minister alone announce a policy change on a settled foreign policy issue without holding a national debate or reaching a consensus in Parliament?

During the current government establishment of the PTI, Pakistan has undeniably remained steadfast in its principled position on Kashmir; reiterating it emphatically throughout this period while offering its unwavering and unwavering support to the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir. In fact, Prime Minister Imran Khan himself has made the case for Kashmir in every possible forum. Islamabad not only unequivocally condemned India for its illegal acts committed especially since August 5, 2019, but also urged New Delhi to come up with a roadmap to reverse its decision to pave the way for the opening of talks. bilateral. Therefore, it is difficult to infer that Islamabad has made some fundamental changes to its policy in Kashmir or whether the third option promised is a policy statement. Second, the “promise” says nothing about what Islamabad’s position on Kashmir would be from now until the desired plebiscites are held. He also did not specify the times for the first and second plebiscites, or visualize which political parties would run the affairs of Pakistan and India when the two plebiscites were to take place. In all probability, it was a political statement.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is aware that the third option on Kashmir violates and negates relevant UN Security Council resolutions as well as Article 257 of Pakistan’s constitution and means virtually abandoning the principled position of many. decades of Islamabad on the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir. Therefore, if it was not a political statement, such a massive change in the most important pillar of Pakistan’s foreign policy must have a solid basis and reasoning. The issuance of a statement of such enormity also cannot be based on an academic exercise. This brings us to a more serious question. Aside from conspiracy theories and apprehensions of outside influence to change Pakistan’s principled position on Kashmir, has Pakistan actually reached some sort of agreement on the permanent settlement of the Kashmir dispute by the government? through some off-the-beaten-path arrangements? If the Kashmir conflict is resolved under the PTI government, Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to be Pakistan’s third Nobel Prize winner.

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