August 5 of 2019 was a day that reformed the India-Pakistan equation as India usurped Disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir by revoking article 370. Since the revocation of the article that guaranteed a special status to the disputed region, things have not been the same for India, Pakistan and especially for the Kashmiri populace that the former has had held in shackles for more than seven decades. For India, the move has been deeply beneficial as it allowed more control to sustain occupation. For Pakistan, a challenge has been posed as to how it would counter India’s move to annex Kashmir and provide relief to the Kashmiris under the strictest lockdown of its history. For Kashmiris, the deepening of Indian control and withdrawal of their few fundamental human rights India had barely allowed. posed a hitherto unseen challenge.
The fact that the more than a year has passed after India’s provocative act of revoking Kashmir’s special status makes things even more complicated for Pakistan and the Kashmiri population. Despite Kashmir’s special status in the past, its leaders never enjoyed their right to present the picture of their plight to the world and ask for help. For the past seven decades, Pakistan has been the only country that has passionately and eagerly represented and advocated the cause of Kashmir. This shows why Kashmir, after August 5, has been expecting Pakistan to up the ante and chalk out an effective strategy on its behalf against the Indian occupation.
Going by the Pakistan’s official narrative that the state has advocated since the very first day of its establishment, Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of the partition of subcontinent. Pakistan claims Kashmir to be its integral part first and foremost on the basis of its ideology of Muslim nationalism. Pakistan has argued, since day 1, that Kashmir was supposed to be a part of Pakistan on the basis of its Muslim majority population that expected the princely state to be acceded to Pakistan while the ruler Hari Singh acceded it to India against the wishes of the masses. The founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared Kashmir to be the ‘jugular vein’ of Pakistan and the K-word would then go on to set the pattern for India-Pakistan foreign relations.
Kashmir, after August 5, has been expecting Pakistan to up the ante and chalk out an effective strategy on its behalf against the Indian occupation.
Pakistan and India, both are obsessed with Kashmir to the level of obstinacy. This obsession with Kashmir has so far led the two states to two wars and two military conflicts in 1947, 1965, 1999 and 2019 respectively, not to mention the Siachen dispute in the disputed region that has been pitching the two armies against each other and the freezing temperature that can dip to -60 degree Celsius in Winter. Pakistan has been attempting to change the status quo situation of Kashmir, which India has so far vehemently resisted, into its own favour since 1947-48 and has not given up on its hopes which are powered by UN Security Council resolutions. It is therefore unthinkable for any observer of the international politics, let alone the predominantly pro-Pakistan Kashmiri population, to expect silence or compromise from Pakistan on such a critical juncture of Kashmir’s history.
This time, the challenge is way too different for Kashmiris and Pakistan. India, by revoking special status of Kashmir, has allowed its citizens to buy land in the disputed Indian occupied Kashmir. This is a well calculated move by New Delhi to change the demography of Kashmir by settling more and more Indian nationals in the disputed state. The ruling party in India, the BJP has long advocated for settling the Hindu Kashmiri Pandits back into Kashmir.
For Pakistan, this is a very tough situation to deal with, especially when the country is struggling to prevent blacklisting in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) against the US-led lobby working in collaboration with India. If the country fails in the struggle and gets blacklisted, an economic melt down amid sanctions would await Pakistan, making it next to impossible to effectively do something for Kashmir. This is also coupled by an internal political crisis in which prime minister Imran Khan’s government is struggling for its own survival against an 11-party opposition alliance campaigning against it and targeting the military establishment of the country. The country also faces a sky high inflation which has badly disturbed the government’s support base. This basically means it is now even harder for government to extract power from the masses for implementation of its policies, including Kashmir policy.
This time, the challenge is way too different for Kashmiris and Pakistan. India, by revoking special status of Kashmir, has allowed its citizens to buy land in the disputed Indian occupied Kashmir.
In the past few months, Kashmir has undoubtedly gone down in Pakistani government’s list of agendas which is a disappointing and worrying sign for both the people of Pakistan and the Indian Held Kashmir who are desperately waiting for Pakistan to advocate their cause and amplify their voice. Common Pakistanis have regularly held rallies and processions in support of their Kashmiri brethren but this has had least effect on the plight of Kashmiris suffering under a brutal lockdown imposed by the Indian security forces. Pakistan’s Foreign Office has also fallen silent in its support for Kashmir in the past few months which has further arisen the disappointment in Pakistani and Kashmiri masses.
In the past few months, Kashmir has undoubtedly gone down in Pakistani government’s list of agendas which is a disappointing and worrying sign for both the people of Pakistan and the Indian Held Kashmir
Pakistan’s foreign policy has been India-Centric for a reason, survival. The pinnacle of the India-Centric foreign policy of Pakistan has been Kashmir for the past seven decades also for a reason, Pakistan’s identity along with geostrategic interests and economic vitality. What the Khan government needs to ask itself is if it has any strategy to alleviate the suffering of the Kashmiri brethren and prevent India from changing Kashmir’s demography. Speeches are good for propagation of narrative but only if they are a part of a grand strategy. Pakistani leadership needs not forget what the Chinese strategist Sun Tzu said thousands of years back, “strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory but tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat!”
What is Pakistan up to, is a question that is being asked by the Kashmiris that have passionately supported Pakistan’s cause under a brutal occupation. This question is also being asked by the Pakistani masses who are not seeing their government in action in support of Kashmir according to their expectations. How serious is this? Well, its pretty serious because inability to stop India from changing Kashmir’s demography means losing Kashmir’s cause forever.
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory but tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat!”Sun Tzu – The Art of War
Pakistan has to channelize its diplomatic resources effectively to garner support for Kashmir across the globe and put pressure on India to undo the revocation of article 370. This has to be done swiftly and effectively. All embassies in the major capitals of the world must be tasked with gathering support for Kashmir on emergency basis, before its too late. India being a large market of more than 1.2 billion people with huge resources has had an upper hand in international lobbying so far, despite Kashmir’s case being very solid. If this is not a failure of Pakistan, this is not a success either that the government in Islamabad can claim. Immediate action is required by Pakistan’s foreign office before the equation gets further distorted into India’s favour.
About The Author
Abubakar Farooqui is the brains behind Rationale 47. He Studied International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. His areas of interest include National Security of Pakistan and International Politics, particularly of South Asia and Middle East. He tweets @AbubakarTweets
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Rationale-47.