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Indian fits of brinkmanship

Since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, he has been blowing hot and cold about his country’s relations with Pakistan.  Likelihood of current noises between India and Pakistan heading anywhere close to a war are realy far-fetched. Ever since Operation Parakaram (Sanskrit: Valor), India has come to a conclusion that fighting with Pakistan is no longer an option; hence it has mastered the art of howling as a substitute to prudent statecraft. Visits of American NSA and German foreign minister  had been planned in advance had nothing to do with the current tension between India and Pakistan. Nevertheless, prevailing situation was discussed with both these visitors.  Notwithstanding, it would be unrealistic to harbour expectations regarding a meaningful US role in Pakistan-India relations. Notwithstanding, trails of Indian arrogance lead towards undue India coddling by America and it allies.

India has to realize that the only way to bring an end to human misery on both sides of the border is to hold talks—especially on Kashmir.  Modi’s frustration is understandable, due to childish approach, he has gathered phenomenal political baggage on personal, domestic and foreign policy counts. Tainted with his terrorist background, Modi lacks civility, patience and diplomatic skills. BJP needs to reconsider its prime ministerial choice lest all gained during Vajpayee era in India Pakistan bilateral context is reduced to ashes.
On personal count Modi’s biggest failure has been his complicity in a spate of organised killings during his stint as chief minister of the state of Gujarat, which took around a thousand lives—mostly Muslims. An Indian human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, has spent fairly long time in collecting evidence of Modi’s involvement in the riots. She is the recipient of the Padma Shri Award. It’s a Hindu woman investigating a Hindu prime minister for alleged wrongdoing in a state where the majority of victims of the butchery were Muslims! On the eve of court proceedings that could have Modi facing criminal charges for the riots, members of the Central Bureau of Investigation, who have gained notoriety for carrying out the wishes of its political masters, conducted a 24-hour long raid on the Setalvad’s home to harass her family. Notwithstanding, the seeds Modi had sown during Gujarat pogrom of 2002 in the form of government sponsored three days long massacre of Muslims, have now graduated to sub-communal intra-Hindu violence in August 2015. Though it may take considerable time to bring Modi to book for his crimes against humanity; eventually, he shall face the trial by an international tribunal.
Modi is also making futile effort in rewriting the history; what could be more obscurant than declaring victory celebration for 1965 war which was an utter defeat for Indian military as well as political leadership. Recent Confession by a former Indian Air Marshal Bharat Kumar indicate how a numerically superior India met humiliating defeat in the hands of Pakistani military. Indian military pensioners of 1965 era have declined to participate in so called ‘Victory celebrations’ unless their pensions are increased many times over—what a bargain!
India is, since long, following an odious plan to ensure that Kashmir is formally integrated into India. Recent cancellation of NSA level talks on the issue of Pakistan’s preparatory meeting with true representatives of IHK—the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leadership— alongside persistent Indian violations of Line of Control has brought Kashmir back under international focus. Besides numerous statements of the UNSG, Mr Peter Lavoy, Special Assistant to the President Obama on South Asian Affairs said on August 20, 2015 that “Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory. I think, it’s up to them to address these issues together. I expect that they probably will.” Time has come for the world powers and in particular the United States to recognize the people of Jammu & Kashmir as the central party to the dispute.
To take the Kashmir cause to higher pedestals, Kashmiri diaspora has announced another Million-Man-March (MMM); this time in America. March will focus on the political climate of the region of South Asia and the role of the United Nations & the United States in facilitating a lasting peace and stability in the region that could provide an opportunity for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute. March shall take place on October 25, 2015, in front of the UN head office, New York. It will be a joint platform of all Kashmiri American expatriates and friends of Kashmir, irrespective of their political beliefs, religious affiliations and linguistic limitations. APHC leaders from IHK have been invited to participate in the march. Hopefully Indian will not place travel restrictions on Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik and Shabbir Ahmed Shah. Marchers want the UN and the US to know that a political leadership exists in Jammu & Kashmir, with broad popular support, which seeks a peaceful and negotiated settlement; and this leadership is APHC. The Government of Pakistan has shown eagerness to accept APHC as an equal partner. The only question is whether the Government of India will join them at the negotiations table or opt for continued repression over dialogue. The only way to achieve a peaceful and lasting solution to the Kashmir crisis is through focused dialogue and negotiations between the three stake holders—Pakistan, India and the Kashmiris. Such talks should focus at devising ways and means to hold UN supervised plebiscite.
Modi and his NSA Ajit Doval have been conspiring to put impediments in the path of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (COEC) by active intervention through proxies. India has since long been encouraging the separatist elements in Balochistan through financing, travel facilitation and provision of platforms in India and abroad to air their unfounded anti-Pakistan narratives. The effort has failed. Province went through peaceful national, provincial and local bodies’ election. The federal and provincial governments have ever since demonstrated their reconciliatory gestures towards disgruntled groups. Now founder of the defunct Baloch Republican Party Brahamdagh Bugti has also joined the growing list of key Baloch leaders, led by Khan of Qallat, who stand convinced about the futility of their disruptive trajectory and are now adopting reasonable stance for their political mainstreaming and to come to the negotiation table. Bugti’s conciliatory words are rooted in pragmatism; his willingness to join the mainstream politics would also discourage other separatist groups. Situation in Balochistan is improving. Fararis are laying down their weapons in numbers.
After getting an unfavourable award from independent arbitrator on Kishanganga Hydroelectric project, Modi has offered Pakistan to hold talks on other controversial hydro power projects. Pakistan saw through the trap by which New Delhi was trying to buy time for completing the projects. Pakistan has raised objection on the design of various projects because their structures would obstruct the flow of water, into Pakistan, to a degree that violates the Indus Water Treaty. Pakistan has decided to approach the World Bank, the guarantor of the IWT to appoint an expert to decide the matter.
At the SAARC level, Modi’s obsessions to install pro-India governments in some of the countries and to gang up with them in an anti-Pakistan coalition is resulting in region’s lost opportunity in terms of connectivity and commerce. As Modi’s efforts to marginalize Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan have come to a naught; he is desperately trying to set-up his anti-Pakistan shops in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries—albeit failing everywhere.
Modi’s obsession to cage Pakistan is firing back. During his recent visit to UAE, Modi tried to woo the Arab countries towards India, with a condition that they ditch Pakistan enbloc and comprehensively. He offered them defence cooperation in lieu of Pakistan’s constraints regarding sending its forces to quell the Yemen insurgency if Arab countries withdrew hand of assistance to Pakistan and show indifferent attitude to Pakistan on defence and economic matters. Again, Modi underestimated the depth of the relationship between Pakistan and Arab countries. King of Saudi Arabia made it clear in categorical terms that Saudi Arabia would never allow any Modi-led conspiracy against Pakistan to succeed.

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Blasphemy issue needs a permanent solution

The good sense has prevailed, an imminent catastrophe has receded. In a written statement issued on August 30, Geert Wilders announced "not to let the cartoon contest go ahead.” The contest was to be held at the tightly guarded offices of his Party for Freedom in the Dutch parliament building. Meanwhile, the Netherlands government had been at pains to distance itself from the contest. Prime Minister Mark Rutte questioned Wilders' motive for organising the contest. Pakistan’s foreign minister congratulated the nation and Muslim Ummah on their moral victory and termed the cancellation of the contest a victory for Pakistan on the diplomatic front. Cancellation announcement came within days after Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a statement saying the act was hurting the sentiments of Muslims living all around the world. Condemning the blasphemous cartoon competition in the Netherlands, Prime Minister Imran Khan had blamed the recurrence of such incidents a collective failure of the Muslim world, saying he would take up the matter at the United Nations General Assembly’s upcoming session. After the publication of Salman Rushdi’s blasphemous book ‘Satanic Verses’, it has become very easy to malign Muslims in the West, the prime minister said. “And they have been successfully doing it.” If they [Western countries] feel pained discussing the Holocaust, why haven’t we been able to convey to the West how much we feel pained when they do blasphemous things against Islam and our beloved Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him)?” Pakistan’s foreign office is undertaking a hectic diplomatic campaign to avert the exhibition of profane cartoons in November. Hopefully the good sense would prevail. Time and again, Western Christian countries purposefully hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims through public display of profane audio-visual and print material about Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), under the pretext of their so called doctrine of freedom of expression. In a stark contradiction, same very European States immediately imprison anyone questioning the veracity of ‘Holocaust’, while Muslims and their religion don’t get the similar preferential treatment. While earlier such incidents in Netherlands were an act of non-state actors, this time parliamentary permission to hold the forthcoming exhibition inside parliament premises had made the government of Netherlands a party to this nefarious act of religious extremism. Opposition leader Greet Wilders has a track history of airing anti-Muslim sentiment. In December 2017, he proposed that European countries should adopt Donald Trump-style travel bans to counter a wave of Islamisation, according to him, sweeping the continent. Wilders also urged Europe to adopt Australia’s tactics in turning back migrant boats and to build new border walls, as Trump had vowed to do along the US frontier with Mexico. Wilders is the parliamentary leader of his party in the House of Representatives. During his election campaign, Wilders had published a one-page election manifesto calling for a ban on all asylum seekers and migrants from Islamic nations, and urged his country to leave the European Union. Wilders also stands for banning the Quran and closing all mosques and Islamic schools. Political environment in Netherlands is quite murky and thoroughly mired in populist rhetoric, where both the government and the opposition are, more often than not, competing to appear more racist and exclusionist. Wilders was defeated in March 2017 elections by Mark Rutte. According to Guardian “cost of latter’s victory against Geert Wilders’ anti-EU, anti-immigration, anti-Islam Freedom PVV party was a pyrrhic victory”. Mark Rutte’s VVD party had adopted the very rhetoric of Wilders to beat him. Rutte had said: “something wrong with our country” and claimed “the silent majority” would no longer tolerate immigrants who come and “abuse our freedom”. Close to end of his previous tenure as Prime Minster, Rutte thought that being tough on Turkey would fetch him more votes, therefore he “happily sparked a mini-international crisis for the sake of votes”. While during the electoral campaign, Rutte said stopping Wilders was about stopping the “wrong sort of populism”. Situation is akin to India where both BJP and Congress compete to articulate more pro Hindu rhetoric to encash Hindu vote bank. Pakistan had approached Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to lodge a protest against this planned cartoon competition in Netherlands. Former caretaker Foreign Minister Abdullah Haroon had set the dice rolling by writing a letter to the OIC Secretary General seeking his leadership for a collective action to register a protest of OIC countries with the Dutch authorities, who in turn had written to the Dutch foreign minister, on behalf of 57 Muslim countries, protesting against this abominable event. It is not the first time that the Netherlands is holding such competition. In the past also such acts have frequently been committed by this country with a malicious intent to target the noblest personality of the Holy Prophet (Pbuh). Pakistan has called upon the Dutch Ambassador to Pakistan and the EU Ambassador, who represents 28 European countries, to register the protest. “We have conveyed our condemnation of this deliberate attempt to vilify Islam. Such incidents should not go unpunished,” Foreign office spokesperson said. Pakistan’s new government had taken forth the process. During its first meeting, cabinet decided to take up the matter at bilateral level. Pakistan lodged a strong protest with the Netherlands over an announcement of holding a competition of blasphemous caricatures. “The charge d’affaires of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was summoned to the Foreign Office on August 13, and a strong protest was lodged”, Foreign office stated. Deep concern was conveyed at this deliberate and malicious attempt to defame Islam. “Pakistan’s ambassador in Hague has been instructed to forcefully raise the issue with the Dutch government along with ambassadors of OIC member states,” the Foreign Office went on to add. Foreign minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi also spoke to his Dutch counterpart. Pakistan’s permanent representatives to the United Nations in New York and Geneva were directed to take up the matter with the UN Secretary General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN bodies and procedures. The issue would also be discussed in the forthcoming meeting of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers, scheduled to be held on the side-lines of forthcoming 73rd ministerial session of the UNGA. Though the triggering issue is behind us, OIC should not lower its guards, it should firm up an action plan if any individual or government attempts such a misadventure in future. During this meeting the Muslim countries should send a loud and clear message that the despoliation of Muslim holy personalities is not acceptable to them. The silver lining is that there have been saner voices from within Dutch civil society. Demonstrations were held by Dutch nationals to show solidarity with Muslims. During March 2017, Dutch citizens gathered at a mosque in Amsterdam, to show solidarity with the country’s Muslim population. People representing a broad coalition against racism gathered at the central Al-Kabir mosque to show opposition to anti-Muslim sentiments in the country. “We as a Muslim community pose no danger whatsoever to society,” said Najem Ouladali while addressing the gathering. “We believe that what Wilders is doing is very dangerous to our society,” Ouladali added. Najem was one of the organizers of the gathering. Pakistan should continue to work closely with all the OIC member states to find a permanent solution to this recurring issue. Matter should be persistently raised at the relevant international fora until a sustainable way is found by the international community for preventing such abhorrent acts.

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