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Kashmir conflict: unfinished agenda of partition

All Parties Hurriyet Conference leader Syed Ali Geelani has recently commented from his hospital bed in New Delhi: “British government played a key role in creating Kashmir issue”. Any historic scrutiny into origin of Kashmir conflict leads to culpability of the British Crown representatives in India. Who would know better than Hammond that Kashmir dispute was wilfully engineered through machinations of the last Viceroy Lord Mountbatten, who supervised the “Great Divide”. On pretext of fake and fabricated accession letter from Maharaja of Kashmir, Viceroy authorised air lift of Indian troops to mercilessly supress the popular uprising against the Indian intent to annex Kashmir by arm-twisting the Maharaja.

In the same context, earlier the Chairman of Boundary Commission Cyril Radcliff was pressured by the Viceroy and bribed by Nehru to alter the boundary award and give Muslim majority district of Gurdaspur to India because the only land connection between India and Kashmir passed through this town. The conspiracy was well orchestrated under the tutelage of the Viceroy, who was dying for becoming the joint Governor General of Pakistan and India. After Pakistan’s refusal to accept him in that capacity, he crossed over to Indian side and towed the line dictated by Nehru-Edwina nexus.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was obviously detached from reality when he suggested, on March 08, that issue of Jammu and Kashmir should not be a precondition for resumption of India-Pakistan dialogue and emphasized the need for reopening of talks between the two countries. He restated the obvious that an India-Pakistan dialogue is essential for long-term economic development, peace and security in the region.

Despite ruthless and disproportionate use of force, Indian failed to subdue pro-Pakistan sentiment in Kashmir. Seeing the impending takeover of Kashmir by the street power, India took the matter to the UN. Security Council passed the resolution, in January 1948, that decision about Kashmir’s joining Pakistan or India shall be based on the outcome of UN supervised plebiscite; India accepted the resolution and agreed to comply with its provisions. Since then, the UNSC has passed over a dozen resolution in pursuance to settlement of the dispute but India has been on the run; last such resolution was passed in June 1998.

Philip Hammond’s country has endorsed all these resolutions. It would have been more prudent for him to advice both India and Pakistan to take steps to implement these UN resolutions; he could have gone a step further by offering to become an honest broker for arbitration. This would have, at least redeemed the empire’s tarnished image in the context of mismanaging the nut and bolts of Partition of India Plan. For the first time Kashmir issue was include in the joint statement of recently concluded sixth round of Pakistan-US Strategic Dialogue. The exact wording of the US-Pakistan joint statement regarding Kashmir reads: “The United States and Pakistan emphasised the importance of meaningful dialogue in support of a peaceful resolution of outstanding issues, including Kashmir”. The new shift in US policy increases the heat on India. Pakistan’s Foreign office has welcomed the recognition by the US that Kashmir was a dispute; said, Pakistan would continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris till the implementation of UN resolutions.

Philip’s advice also smacks of his country’s intriguing desire to keep the real issues, impacting Pakistan, outside Pakistan-India bilateral talks. Kashmir is the root cause of all problems between Pakistan and India and everyone knows that the two countries have fought four wars on the dispute. Gravity of the matter is all too well known to the students of international security who acknowledge it as nuclear flashpoint.

There is growing realisation that genuine peace and stability in South Asia would remain elusive without meaningfully addressing this core issue as per aspirations of the Kashmiri people. While India is content with pursuing a flawed policy of containment through demeaning the people of Kashmir—with impunity, Pakistan is seeking a solution based on the principles of democracy by letting the people of Kashmir decide their destiny through free and fair polls. Principle of the right of self-determination is a universally accepted right, and people of Kashmir seek nothing beyond that.

Philip should also have been mindful of abysmal Human Rights Situation in the IOK, which lodges nearly a million-strong occupation troops and is sarcastically dubbed as most densely militarized conflict zone of the World. Brutal powers conferred on Indian security forces, through half a dozen draconian laws, throw-up shameless aura of impunity leading to an image of open cage, where Kashmiris live under an omni-present threat to their lives and dignity. Hammond should have taken a briefing on how UNHRC and other HR watchdogs have, over the years, commented on violation of international humanitarian law in IOK.

Pakistan has all along been flexible on the ways and means for resolving the Kashmir issue. Some Pakistan overzealous rulers went overboard in accommodating Indian position on Kashmir. General Musharraf had come to such a low that he ceded too much strategic space on Kashmir, thanks to India hubris that Pakistan was spared of a catastrophe of strategic dimension. The point is that India is not ready to go along even with favourable proposals just because they are initiated by Pakistan.

In the context of dialogue, mainstream view in Pakistan is that there should be even-handed progress in tandem on all issues between the two countries including the Kashmir dispute. Conventional view in India is that there should be progress only on those points that benefit India; and points that benefits Pakistan should either be kept off the table or obstructive approach should be followed to maintain snail’s pace.

An elaborate framework evolved for Composite Dialogue is still in place; it provides a forum for discussing all issues. However, India is keen to keep the dialogue process dormant. Every time when the two countries agree for resumption of dialogue, some incident is engineered by India to make a pretext to run away from talks. Pakistan hopes that the United Kingdom, which had the fundamental role in creating the Kashmir issue, would also urge India to shun the policy of dilly dallying and hold talks with Pakistan on the basis of sovereign equality, and discuss all issues including Kashmir. Dialogue is not a favour by one country to another, but a necessity to normalise relations. However, India considers even a visit or cultural/sporting exchange as a concession to Pakistan for which Pakistan must cede space. Hammond did well by urging both the countries not to allow non-state actors and other pressure groups to derail the peace process. Hammond may know that there has been no single occasion when Pakistan disrupted the dialogue.

Kashmir shall always be on the agenda of Pakistan-India dialogue, whenever it takes place. It is Kashmir that defines parameters of Pak-India relationship and gives it forward movement. One has to be a Pakistani to read between the lines on India’s Pakistan policy. Pakistan really doesn’t need British foreign secretary telling how to conduct relations with India!

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is keen for normalisation of relations with India on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest, and is pursuing this policy with seriousness of purpose. Pakistan seeks uninterruptible and uninterrupted dialogue. Neither war nor disengagement is an option. Globalised world calls for active cooperation to address common challenges. Road to peace is always strewn with many impediments and requires courage to take difficult decisions. Peace is in mutual interest of Pakistan and India. However, it takes two to tango; and India cannot be given the right of veto over what should and should not be discussed.

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Dynamics of FATF listing

Pakistan Focus Analysis. Indo-US anti-Pakistan nexus is so very obvious, both have in-chorus expressed their joy on Pakistan’s placement on grey list. Indian Express has reported that “India, US are one in saying Pakistan deserved to be demoted to anti-terror funding group's 'grey list’”. "India welcomes the decision of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to place Pakistan in its Compliance Document (grey list) for ICRG [International Cooperation review Group] monitoring," said India's ministry of external affairs. And; "outstanding counterterrorism deficiencies consistently raised by the Financial Action Task Force and [Pakistan] needs to take actions, including on the raising and moving of funds of UN-designated terrorist groups, a top US official said to news agency PTI”. Decision is politically motivated and is part of American strategy to pressurise Pakistan to settle some other scores. Pakistan has been placed among the jurisdictions (states) with strategic deficiencies: Ethiopia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen. FATF has called upon these states to complete implementation of the action plans expeditiously and within the proposed timeframes, vowing to closely monitor the implementation. It was also agreed in February Plenary that an Action Plan would be negotiated between Pakistan and FATF members by June. This has been done. The FATF has formally placed Pakistan on the grey list due to ‘strategic deficiencies’ in its anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regime. The decision came despite Pakistan had demonstrated reasonable progress in three out of four major areas of FATF concerns. Pakistan’s team led by Finance Minister apprised the plenary about measures that Pakistan had taken to stop money laundering and strangling the terror financing. In prevailing World Order, nothing works better than American pressures. During February plenary, the US and the UK went out of their way to by-pass the standard FATF procedures and jointly arm twist the FATF for nominating Pakistan for the grey list in June, regardless of its February-June period effort and progress; they were also joined by France and Germany. Pakistan has undertaken to work towards effective implementation of the Action Plan, while staying in the grey list. A similar situation took place in 2011 when Pakistan was included in the grey list and was taken out in 2015 after it successfully implemented the Action Plan. There were tall claims that Pakistan was unlikely to be placed on the grey list of the global financial watchdog as the country had made enough progress to meet international anti-money laundering and terror financing standards, such euphoric environment had been created before and during the previous FATF plenary meeting as well. There is a need to float realistic expectations before such international events. FATF identifies jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies in its two public documents: FATF Public Statement (call for action)– commonly known as black list—and Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance— nick named as grey list. It is an on-going process; these lists are updated three times a year. Interestingly, FATF does not use grey list/blacklist terminologies. The ICRG of the APG had identified four key areas of concerns: deficiencies in the supervision of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Terrorism Financing regimes; cross-border illicit movement of currency by terrorist groups; progress on terrorism financing investigation and prosecution; and implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1373, for curbing terror financing. ICRG report has shown that Pakistan did show progress on three out of four major areas of concerns. Cross-border smuggling of cash was the only major area where Pakistan admitted deficiencies. Maximum number of conditions – nine to be precise – take into account the concerns of the UNSC resolutions, followed by eight commitments to address concerns regarding terrorism financing prosecution, four are about curbing currency movement across the border and five recommendations relate to improvement in the supervision mechanisms of banks and companies. Pakistan has undertaken to demonstrate that authorities are identifying cash couriers and enforcing controls on illicit movement of currency and understanding the risk of cash couriers being used for terrorism financing. Remember Ayan Ali case? And who protected her? Carrier is enjoying quality life abroad. Pakistan has made a “high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG to strengthen its Anti-money Laundering (AML)/Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT) regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies,” according to FATF announcement. The FATF said Pakistan will also be demonstrating that remedial actions and sanctions are applied in cases of AML/CFT violations, and that these actions have an effect on AML/CFT compliance by financial institutions. “It will be demonstrating that competent authorities are cooperating and taking action to identify and take enforcement action against illegal money or value transfer services.” During the intervening period Pakistan government did strenuous hard work to plug the gaps. Ambitious laws were enacted. Finance ministry improved institutional mechanisms for handling anti-money laundering and countering financing terrorism issues. Coordination between the State Bank, Banking institutions and law enforcement agencies had also been strengthened to curb money laundering and terror financing. Pakistan has recently addressed issues raised by the FATF through a tax amnesty scheme, while Securities and Exchange Commission has issued Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Regulations (2018). National Security Committee has also reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with the FATF. Through its Action Plan, Pakistan has demonstrated to the world that it was ready to go an extra mile to curb money laundering. Pakistan will have to deliver on the first goal by January next year and complete all the 26 actions by September 2019,” it is indeed a tight schedule. One wonders whether Pakistan has requisite mechanisms in place to implement and steer such an ambitious plan. An expert assessment has it that though Pakistan’s inclusion in the grey list may hurt its image in the international landscape, its economic impact will not be as severe as being portrayed. This is because when Pakistan was part of the grey list/blacklist (2008-2015), it successfully approached multilateral bodies, floated international bonds and had international trades. Hopefully Pakistan will be able to come out or grey list in September 2019, however it must follow consistent economic policies to remain out of such trouble spots. Caretaker government would do a great service by forming a national commission to identify and punish all those responsible for letting the things reverse back after Pakistan’s previous journey to blacklist was over.

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