Oppression in Kashmir

  • Something for the UNGA?

The matter of talks with Sushma Swaraj, on the sidelines of the UNGA, had already become stale by the time Shah Mehmood landed in the United states, even though it did trigger fresh discontent between the two capitals. There has also been more disturbance in Kashmir, where Indian forces have once again clamped down harshly on indigenous protestors. One of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s core priorities at the Assembly, therefore, now becomes directing world attention towards blatant state violence in Kashmir.

One of the PML-N government’s biggest failures in foreign policy – and PTI pointed this out too time and again – was its inability to raise Kashmir effectively at the United Nations. State violence unleashed since Burhan Wani’s assassination, especially the use of pellet guns that blinded and maimed half a generation, went ahead unchecked primarily because Pakistan failed to expose Indian atrocities at appropriate forums. In occupation conflicts like Palestine and Kashmir, the dispossessed are, unfortunately, always in need of powerful patrons to argue their case at international forums. And Pakistan has long failed Kashmir just like the powerful, rich Arab nations have let their Palestinian brothers and sisters down.

In keeping with its ambitious domestic agenda, the new government in Islamabad must also prove itself in foreign policy. Shah Mehmood must now make a strong case for Kashmir at the UNGA. How can it be that a country that uses pellet guns, destroys an entire valley’s youth, mutilates thousands of civilians and punishes people demanding their rights is not made to answer for its actions at the United Nations? Pakistan’s case is automatically strengthened because the latest uprising is completely indigenous and usual Indian claims of cross-border infiltration and interference are not backed by evidence. Whether or not the finance minister is up to the task will become clear soon enough.