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At last, Pakistan begins to own IOK!

 India’s Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar has stated that Pakistan should not internationalize the Kashmir issue. “As far as the Kashmir issue is concerned, Pakistan must not internationalize it; it is a bilateral issue.” Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s had taken a bold, though belated, decision to appoint 22 parliamentarians as his special envoys to highlight Indian brutalities and human rights abuses in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in various world capitals. “I am standing behind these special envoys to ensure their toil for highlighting the Kashmir cause resonates across the world so that I can shake the collective conscience of the international community during my address at the UN this September,” he said.

 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been ignoring saner voices within Pakistan to be cautious while dealing with Hindutva inspired and RSS powered Modi, however, he continued to ignore Modi’s brinkmanship and kept giving him benefit of doubt. Modi’s August 15 speech has compelled Nawaz to rethink his approach towards India, as Modi has shamelessly bared its teeth.

PM Nawaz has said that Kashmir problem is the most persistent failure of the UN and that the world body must establish its relevance. “We will also make it clear to India that it was India that approached the UN several decades back on Kashmir dispute but now it is not fulfilling its promise,” he added.

Premier Nawaz Sharif’s move has evoked a strong and angry reaction from the Indian media, which called it “provocation, needling and meddling” in the country’s affairs. The Indian Express said the Pakistan government had needled India on Kashmir by nominating special envoys. Under the headline “Pakistan provokes India”, a visibly frustrated The First Post wrote “the move can be seen as provocation from Pakistan’s side, which has been in a constant tussle with the Indian political leadership over the Kashmir issue recently”. India Today said Islamabad’s decision was “yet another attempt to meddle in India’s internal affairs”.

MJ Akbar and Indian media need to read the fine print of Simla Agreement once again that, in its opening paragraph, makes an unambiguous reference to the UN charter: “That the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries.

Pakistan's High Commissioner to India
Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India

Agreement states: “Pending the final settlement of any of the problems between the two countries, neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation and both shall prevent the organization, assistance or encouragement of any acts detrimental to the maintenance of peace and harmonious relations”. India violated this provision of Simla Agreement by occupying Siachen glacier in 1984. All efforts by Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute bilaterally, since Simla Agreement (1972), have failed—hence the need to fall back to the UN. Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India aptly stated: “Pakistan will continue to extend full diplomatic, political and moral support to the valiant people of Jammu and Kashmir till they get their right to self-determination.”

Comments and analyses continue to pour-in about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day gaffe. The United States held out a categorical assurance to Pakistan that it did not support independence for Balochistan. State Department reiterated commitment to Pakistan’s territorial integrity and distanced itself from India’s effort to stir an international controversy over Balochistan. However, earlier there had been a number of moves by the US during recent months, which were interpreted as deliberate attempts to pressurize Pakistan and appease India. It was in this backdrop that Modi became power intoxicated to go overboard in his speech. Pakistan has been informing the international community that India and Afghanistan are stoking unrest in Baluchistan, FATA and a number of urban centres, however, it got little acceptance. Thanks to Modi’s hubris, Pakistan’s stance stands vindicated.  Statement by the State Department is a rebuke to the India PM as it is a straight forward message that the international community would not buy his propaganda; and that he should better focus on improving the HR situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Majority of credible analysts had all along maintained the existence of an Indo-Afghan nexus with the objective to destabilize Pakistan, especially Balochistan and FATA. Earlier both these counties were in a denial mode, however with the ascent of hardliner Narendra Modi to Prime Ministerial slot, caution began to be thrown to wind, and ultimate came on August 15.

These days Modi is busy in getting as many opportunists on-board his Balochistan bandwagon as possible, those on Indian pay role are jumping as a matter of compulsion. Anti-state slogans in Karachi were also orchestrated by one of RAW protégé—the MQM London chief—to dilute the impact of Modi’s goof-up. Due to fierce pro-Pakistan reaction by the MQM rank and file, he has lost control over his party, at least for the time being.

India’s international protégé former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was the only non-Indian guy to subscribe to Modi’s inflammatory speech. Karzai rushed to confession on August 20 about his involvement in meddling in Pakistan’s internal affairs.  Karzai expressed empathy with the people of Balochistan: “The issue of Balochis and their rights and need for them to have peace is something that we commiserate, we understand the remarks of the Prime Minister of India. We wish Balochistan and its people very well… In other words, we understand the remarks of Prime Minister Modi and I appreciate it,” said Karzai.

During his difficult times, Pakistan in general and province of Balochistan in particular had hosted Karzai and his family as Afghan refugee for years. Pakistan’s say was also critical in his elevation to presidency of Afghanistan during Bonn I conference, in 2001. And this is how he has chosen to pay back. He chose to express his diatribe right from the Indian capital. Other clients of Modi are self-exiled Baloch heretics living in Europe. India has been propping up these separatists since decades, facilitating them in cash and kind, enabling their travel and providing them platform to make inflammatory orations against Pakistan.

Divya Kashore opined in his article “Indian flags set ablaze in Balochistan following Narendra Modi’s I-Day diatribe against Pakistan”, carried by International Business Times on August 19 stated that  Anti-India protests had erupted in Balochistan over a statement made by Indian Prime Minister.

In Quetta, members of “Pakistan Workers Party” marched on August 18 to condemn Modi. Civil society activists and several other political organisations also took part in the march demanding that Pakistan government take the issue to the international forum. “The demonstrators set ablaze Indian flags and burnt effigies of Modi. They stated that terrorism in Balochistan is funded by India”.

Within hours of Modi’s provocative speech, Pakistan had proposed settlement of Kashmir dispute through its foreign secretary’s letter to find solution to Kashmir dispute — bilaterally— in line with both countries’ responsibilities in the context of Kashmir related UNSC resolutions. On August 19, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary once again invited his Indian counterpart for talks. In a reply to Pakistani Foreign Secretary’s second letter, India has sought talks on alleged cross-border terrorism in the IOK. Stating India’s willingness to engage in foreign secretary-level talks but not on issues chosen by Pakistan. At the weekly news briefing on August 25, Foreign Office spokesperson said India would always hide behind ‘excuses’ not to hold the dialogue.


While briefing the ambassadors of P-5 and the EU, on August 27, Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz expressed his regrets over the Indian decision saying Pakistan has always demonstrated willingness to hold talks with the Indian side but it has received the same response from the other side. The Adviser said the international community, has an important role to uphold the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law. The P-5 and EU Ambassadors appreciated Pakistan’s readiness for dialogue. Hopefully, concerted multidimensional efforts by the government of Pakistan would soon begin to yield results.





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Selective Assessments of Human Rights Status

These times are witnessing increasingly selective assessments regarding Human Rights status across the World. And slogan of Human Rights has become a tool for furthering hidden strategic objectives. In response to the letter, written by HRW Asia Director Brad Adams to Prime Minster Imran Khan, on August 24, Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari responded: “I hope that you would also raise your voice against a massive human rights violations, carried out in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, Palestine and in some European States against Muslims citizens.” Minister also urged HRW to take up the issue of the violation of human rights by some European states against their Muslim citizens in the form of curtailing their right to practice their religion freely and in the form of abuse of Islam and its Prophet (PBUH), in direct contravention of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. “Since HRW claims to monitor human rights across the world, I would like to be informed on how you are ensuring the rights of Muslim citizens to have their mosques and be able to dress and practice their religion freely and without ridicule in European states,” she added. She went on to ask that since the HRW claims to monitor human rights violations in over 90 countries, “I hope that would include the massive human rights violations being carried out as a matter of state policy by India in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Minister also said that she would like to be informed on how the NGO is “ensuring the rights of Muslim citizens to have their mosques and be able to dress and practice their religion freely and without ridicule in European states”, which have seen an upsurge of xenophobia in recent years. Pakistan government would always welcome positive suggestions, but “an NGO’s institutional credibility will rest on its commitment to ensure human rights across the globe and not just in selective states.” She added. In a blatant violation freedom of information norms, India’s home ministry abruptly withdrew the security clearance granted to Qatar’s Al Jazeera network after a documentary on Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) was aired by the channel. Now, matter is under consideration at appellate level. According to Times of India, the report leading to this action had highlighted the protests after the killing of Burhan Wani in 2016 and the brutal use of pellet guns against protesters amongst other Human Rights violations in IoK. Report was deemed by Indian government as biased. The Economic Times has added that “the television channel will be taken off air if the Home Ministry strikes down the review petition filed by Al Jazeera”. Moreover, Indian government has also rejected recent reports by Amnesty International and Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) on atrocities being committed by the Indian security forces in IoK. “Once again we find out that Kashmiris are the ones having to pay the price for the political battle”. In a related development, Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), has “urged the Indian leadership to admit that human rights violations are taking place on their side of the Line of Control (LoC), and they must work with Pakistan to find a solution that puts the interests of Kashmiris first”. She said it is about time leaders in both India and Pakistan realized that Kashmiris are living in a conflict zone and suffering human rights violations. “They must understand and acknowledge this and ensure that human rights of these people are not violated anymore. It needs to happen right now… this should be about Kashmiris who are suffering.” When asked to comment on misuse of special powers given to the Indian military, Ganguly said that not only the UN but also other groups and commissions, including those, formed under the Indian government have also appealed to the government to repeal such laws. Commenting on the role rights groups like Amnesty and OHCHR could play to make India more accountable over Kashmir issue, especially when Modi government is targeting almost all minority ethnicities in the country, she commented that the voice of dissent should not become the political tool. “Unfortunately this is what happens way too often”. Commenting on increasing communal violence by pro-BJP vigilantes against religious minorities in the country, Ganguly said the environment of an extreme form of nationalism violates religious freedom. Prime Minster Imran Khan has recently said that little noteworthy progress has been made in the past to find a solution for the Kashmir issue. He said so while meeting Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi before assuming office, adding that through the UN resolutions on Kashmir a solution must be found for this intractable issue. Now an extraordinary situation is developing in IoK in the wake of BJP government’s attempts to abrogate Article 35-A of the constitution that grants special status to the occupied territory and its citizens. India is using all cheap tactics from brute use of force to political and constitutional aggression for forcing the occupied territory completely to its fold. The Kashmiri leadership has made it clear that they will fight with full resilience to foil the nefarious designs of India. Pakistan government must approach not only the International Court of Justice (ICJ) but also the United Nations Security Council and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to prevent the Indian government from going ahead with its plans of changing demographic nature of Jammu and Kashmir.

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