The decision taken by Pakistan to mark the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir was a global flop show. It termed the day as Yaum-e Istehsal (day of exploitation).
Its DG ISPR released a song from a Pakistani artist a few days before the event. Pakistan announced one minute’s silence in protest and a one kilometre march in solidarity with Kashmiris. There are no reports on whether this was observed nationally or about the level of participation.
Pakistan renamed the Kashmir Highway as the Srinagar Highway. Foreign Minister SM Qureshi, stated, “Our focus is on Srinagar. We are therefore changing the name of the Kashmir Highway to Srinagar Highway from August 5.”
Would changing names make any difference, other than a moment of media attention?
Qureshi visited Chirikot, along the LoC, accompanied by the defence minister. Addressing villagers, he stated, “Prime Minister Imran Khan as an ambassador of Kashmir and I as a foreign minister are fighting your case at every forum.” The fact is that Pakistan has failed to win any global support.
Pakistan also conferred its top civilian award, Nishan-e-Pakistan, to Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Geelani was chairman of Hurriyat Conference and resigned last month, citing the present state and condition of the party. Really speaking he resigned because the Hurriyat was dumped by Pakistan, after having been exploited for decades. Imran Khan addressed the POK assembly and admitted, “there has been lukewarm response to Kashmir at the world stage due to commercial interests of western countries in India.”
This is a global reality. Silence on China for its handling of Uighurs by the OIC made the world ignore such biased calls. Pakistan hired billboards in Times Square, New York, to project the Kashmiri cause to the global community. But this did not even cause a ripple.
Pakistan released a modified map, on the same lines as Nepal, including J and K, Sir Creek, Siachen and Junagadh as part of it. The map did not include Shaksam valley and Aksai China, which though a part of J and K are ceded/occupied by China.
The map was left open ended in J and K, as Pakistan was unwilling to risk Chinese anger.
India termed the action as a ‘political absurdity’ and stated that these ‘ridiculous assertions’ have neither legal validity nor international credibility.
The statement read, “This new effort only confirms the reality of Pakistan’s obsession with territorial aggrandizement supported by cross-border terrorism.” The map was only for internal consumption as it has no legal basis or ramification.
Pakistan announced it would term J and K as Indian Illegally Occupied J and K (IIOJK). Would returning make any difference?
China, supporting Pakistan, raised the issue in the UNSC under ‘any other business.’ Permanent members of the UNSC stated that Kashmir was not a matter for them being a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. Qureshi termed this as a victory, tweeting, “Today, as the world witnesses one year of India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir, Pakistan welcomes the UNSC meeting. This is a mark of the international community’s and UNSC members’ solidarity with the Kashmiri people who are facing a savage military siege.” Who was he fooling?
The Indian permanent representative to the UN, TS Tirumurti, tweeted, “Another attempt by Pakistan fails! In today’s meeting of UN Security Council (UNSC) which was closed, informal, not recorded, and without any outcome, almost all countries underlined that J&K was bilateral issue and did not deserve time and attention of Council.” Hong Kong, despite Chinese objections, was also discussed in a similar manner in the same forum, with a similar outcome.
With the OIC dumping Pakistan on Kashmir, SM Qureshi asked Saudi Arabia, which historically heads OIC, to call a foreign ministers’ meet for passing a Kashmir resolution, failing which Pakistan would take unilateral action and invite nations which back it. He stated, “If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support oppressed Kashmiris.”
In retaliation, Saudi Arabia compelled Pakistan to repay USD 1 Billion from the 3 Billion loan which it had taken. Pakistan had to borrow from China. Saudi Arabia has also not renewed the deferred payment for oil pact with Pakistan. Pakistan knows that Saudis are their financial backers and they cannot anger them beyond a point. It is aware that its Saudi threat is hollow. It only has the support of Turkey and possibly Iran. Malaysia is
doubtful with a change in government.
With the Saudis unwilling to support, there would be scarce attendance at a meeting of foreign ministers should one be called. Pakistan felt cheated because Saudi pressure compelled Imran to skip the Kuala Lumpur summit involving Turkey and Malaysia on this promise itself, which was then ignored.
Pakistan has unsuccessfully been pushing for a summit for the past one year. OIC nations are unwilling to discuss only Kashmir, due to ties with India. Imran had stated during his visit to Malaysia, “The reason is that we have no voice and there is a total division amongst [us]. We can’t even come together as a whole on the OIC meeting on Kashmir.”
Most of Pakistan’s announcements have no relevance outside the country. Only Turkey and China have responded to its call. Its announcements were for a domestic audience as Imran faces criticism for his Kashmir policy, which lies in tatters. The opposition had been accusing him of failing to enhance global pressure on India. His recent comments and tweets have only harped on false flag operations and escalation of tensions with India, none for resolution and peace. His anti-Modi comments have displayed immaturity and poor understanding of international relations.
Pakistan, which is still on the ‘Grey List’ of the FATF, accused of sponsoring terrorism, and faces an economic crisis not witnessed in its history, is a lonely nation. Hence, its actions on August 5 were another political game, played and lost. For India, Pakistan’s actions were a display of childishness and immaturity; globally it was a flop.
The writer is a retired Major-General of the Indian Army.