Is Pakistan fast losing its game in Jammu and Kashmir India vs disinformation 08 Aug 2022 Maj Gen Harsha Kakar

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Is Pakistan fast losing its game in Jammu and Kashmir India vs disinformation 08 Aug 2022

          On 05 Aug 2022, the third anniversary of the scrapping of Article 370, a black day in Pakistan, also termed as Youm-e-Istehsal Kashmir (Day of Exploitation), its PM, Shehbaz Sharif, tweeted, ‘The J and K dispute has been a battle of hope against overwhelming odds, of courage against fear and of sacrifice against tyranny.’ Every other Pak entity commented similarly on social media. In Islamabad, Pak politicians led a rally to offer support to the Kashmiri cause, while in the valley, life was normal with public marching in groups with Indian flags, displaying solidarity and support to the abrogation of article 370. For Pakistan everything begins and ends with Kashmir, though they remain aware that even in Kashmir, calls to join Pakistan are receding.  

In 2016, addressing the Pakistan Day parade, President Mamnoon Hussain stated that Kashmir is ‘Pakistan’s jugular vein.’ Earlier in 2014, the Pak army chief, Raheel Sharif used the same term while addressing the Youm-e-Shuhada’ (Martyrs’ Day) event. In his address on Pakistan’s defence and martyrs day in Sep 2019, Imran Khan stated, ‘For Pakistan, Kashmir stands as its jugular vein. Altering its status poses challenges to Pakistan’s security and integrity.’ Pakistan’s jugular vein dreams were dumped when India changed the status of J and K and bifurcated it from a state into two Union Territories by scrapping article 370.

          Pakistan misses the fact that article 370 was introduced well after the dispute was placed before the UNSC. However, realizing that it had been stumped when Amit Shah announced its revocation in Parliament, Pak acted irrationally, added 5th August amongst its numerous anti-India Black Days, recalled its high commissioner, stopped trade and announced no further contact with India until article 370 is restored. The current Shehbaz government, weak from the outset, has been unable to reverse the decision fearing political backlash. The only positive Indo-Pak decision has been a ceasefire along the LOC brought about by backchannel talks in Feb 2021.

          Pakistan is aware that it cannot ignore relations with India if it needs to survive. Bilawal was correct when he mentioned, ‘India is our neighbouring country. While one can decide on a lot of things, one cannot choose its neighbours, therefore, we should get used to living with them.’ While officially Pak has banned trade, however trade continues, though not enough to benefit Pak’s depleting economy. 

          Every Pak PM seeks a solution to Kashmir under the UNSC resolution as a precursor to ties, ignoring the fact that the resolution was overridden by the Shimla agreement and Lahore Declaration, which declared the dispute bilateral.  India refuses to even respond to Pak’s comments. As Bhutto stated, Pak is already, ‘internationally isolated and disengaged.’ The fact that Pakistan is losing its grip on Kashmir is hurting it even more. It is aware that it is running out of time. Every government in Pak blames its predecessor for losing the Kashmir diplomatic battle.  

Though Bilawal and Jaishankar were together in Samarkand for SCO foreign ministers meet in end July, there was no communication between them. There is also unlikely to be any interaction between PM’s Modi and Shehbaz when they are both at the same location in September. Pakistan’s rigid stand and refusal to stop sponsorship of terrorism is only hurting it.  

          India has laid down a simple straightforward condition. Talks, trade and terror cannot go hand in hand. Unless sponsorship of terrorism stops, India is uninterested. For India, Pakistan is a pinprick. As Pak recedes into the background in global matters, India rises. While the world tends to ignore Pak, it seeks to engage India. India is aware that with a poor economy, Pakistan’s words are hollow, and it is alone in its demands on Kashmir, while militarily it lacks capability to be a credible threat. Further Kashmir terrorism has reduced to controllable levels.

          DGP J and K, Dilbag Singh stated in a recent press conference that since 2019 more than 690 militants have been eliminated in Kashmir, of which 132 were killed this year alone. Even law and order incidents have dropped over the past three years. These reduced from 584 in 2019 to 77 in 2021 to 20 this year. What remains a matter of concern is that numbers joining terrorist groups remains near constant.

          By clamping down on hawala transactions, the government was able to stop terror financing. Pakistan is now adopting cryptocurrency and drugs to fund terrorism. Desperate to gain recruits and prevent them from surrendering, terrorist groups task them to commit a crime before inducting them, thus ensuring they are outlaws, who would find surrender difficult. This is being countered.

          Aware it is losing the diplomatic war with India; Pakistan is left with no option other than to exploit the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to pass resolutions on Kashmir. The OIC’s resolution of 05 Aug was countered by the Indian foreign office mentioning that it ‘reeks of bigotry.’ It added that the OIC ‘continues to issue statements on J and K at the behest of a serial violator of human rights and notorious promoter of cross-border, regional and international terrorism (Pakistan).’ Possibly the harshest words used by India in recent times.

While the OIC pushes a Pak insisted resolution in its foreign ministers meeting in Islamabad, its member countries send investment delegations to Srinagar, making its resolution a joke. Pak also raises Kashmir in every UN discussion, even if there is no remote connection with it. The Indian permanent representative to the UN in 2019, Syed Akbaruddin, stated, ‘We will soar when they (Pakistan) stoop low.’

          Within Kashmir, local political parties, seeking to gain sympathy and media coverage occasionally mention talks with Pakistan. There is almost no mention of revoking article 370. Demands to convert J and K back to a state continue and it would be implemented once elections are held. Kashmir political parties are aware that by removing article 370, doors opened for development and introduction of central government schemes, changing the public’s mindset. Hence seeking its reversal would be political suicide.

The only entity crying for reinstating the article and terming 05 Aug as a black day is Pakistan. No wonder it has lost the diplomatic war on Kashmir. To rub salt into Pakistan’s wounds, the government must plan one of the G 20 preliminary meeting in Srinagar on 05 Aug 2023. It would send the strongest global message and shut Pakistan’s bickering once and for all.