Pakistan and the status of occupied Kashmir

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  • PTI government caught off guard

During the last six months the government and its agencies have been focused totally on one thing: curbing domestic dissent from all quarters. They have probed the records of dozens of opposition leaders, hounded outspoken journalists and prepared cases against independent judges. Consequently they had little time to collect information about what was being discussed in the higher echelons of the BJP regarding occupied Kashmir. This despite the fact that the BJP had promised the cancellation of Article 370 as part of its election manifesto. The PTI government and its backers did not correctly interpret the signals emanating from India after the elections. They were simply unprepared for the announcement made by the Indian President on Monday.

Another factor that made the PTI leadership and its supporters complacent was the reception Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team received in Washington. With President Trump agreeing to act as a mediator on Kashmir between India and Pakistan, they felt fully secured. The visit was projected as great victory for the Kashmir cause and Pakistan The Foreign Minister left to perform Haj, the permanent representative at the UN went on holidays.

We are left in a position where the USA is entertaining the Indian government’s position that the volte face on Kashmir is India’s internal affair. None of the Security Council’s permanent members has questioned the Indian position nor provided any solace to Pakistan. By Tuesday evening only Malaysia and Turkey had responded positively to the Prime Minister’s telephone calls.

The credit for issuing the call for a joint meeting of the Parliament goes to the opposition. The discredit goes to the PTI government for presenting a resolution that made no reference to the revocation of Article 370, the most condemnable act that ended the decades-old status of the occupied Kashmir.

Mr Khan has promised to take the issue to all international forums. He has said Indian action can lead to another Pulwama and a bitter confrontation between India and Pakistan. Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif has called for a decisive response to India’s action on Kashmir. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has demanded a more firm stand than taken in tweets and the PM’s speech in the joint session. The government needs to take the opposition along.