What's Next for Pakistan in IIOJK

What’s Next for Pakistan in IIOJK?

It is an irony that the month which is celebrated by the nation as a month of independence is now marked by the suppression inflicted upon the people of Kashmir by the Indian state. The revocation of the special status of Kashmir through the annulment of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution has virtually turned the Indian occupation into an annexation.

The Indian suppressive model in IIOJK is similar to that of Israel which has, by force, made Palestine, and particularly the Gaza Strip, as the largest open-air prison.

Despite being largely broadcasted as an internal matter, India’s attempt to diffuse the conversation and reservation of Kashmir issue met with minimum result. Instead, the issue has transformed from being a bilateral issue between Pakistan and India to an international one where different states have shown concern over Indian actions in IIOJK. This is because of the deteriorating human rights situation, imprisonment of political leaders and the curfew which was imposed in the region. For example, both Turkey and Malaysia criticized Indian actions in IIOJK and stressed upon the peace process and negotiations. Both of these states have also raised the issue in UN General Assembly sessions. Similarly, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, asked India to adopt a ‘just policy’ towards the people of Kashmir and Muslims of the region. However, the regional SAARC countries as well as major Gulf states, including KSA, UAE and Bahrain, restrained from criticizing Indian actions and labelled it as India’s internal matter. Gulf states, in particular, asked for the peaceful solution of this bilateral issue.

The Global Stage

The global actors like the US, the UK, EU and Russia all emphasized on the peaceful solution of the issue. The US, the UK and EU were specifically concerned regarding the situation of human rights and communications shutdown while Russia labelled the action as per the constitution of India. Overall, while India is internationally criticized for its gross violations and atrocities, the actions taken by India to dilute the Kashmir issue as a bilateral dispute are largely neglected. The basic understanding of Kashmir as a bilateral issue is missing in the contemporary discourse after 2019 where most of the international actors consider Indian actions in IIOJK as a part of ultra-ideological Hindutva tactics against minorities across the country.

From Bilateral Dispute to Ideological Struggle

The noticeable thing which Pakistan must raise is that atrocities committed in IIOJK must not be compared with an overall anti-Muslim stance of the BJP in India. The communal violence in UP, Karnataka, Assam, and elsewhere in India is basically a reflection of the exclusionist policies of the BJP over which the international community must raise its voice. However, the issue of IIOJK should be taken in a regional context which is different from India’s internal situation and has the potential of disrupting the regional status quo and peace. To deflect this notion, India has allowed its citizens to avail the domicile of IIOJK. Along with this attempted demographic change, India has also outlined a new media policy that seeks to promote a positive image of Kashmir to attract tourism and investments, a land policy that allows the state of India to sell land to private investors mainly non-Kashmiris and finally an attempt was made to declare Hindi as an official language of Kashmir. Such steps allude to the fact that if they are successfully implemented for a prolonged period of time, India would be in a better position to completely reverse the historical aspects of IIOJK that could be consequential for both Pakistan and the Kashmiri Muslims in the wake of any United Nations plebiscite.

Since August 05, 2019, Kashmiri Muslims live in fear and distress. The fear is for their identity, their degradation as second-class citizens and reshaping of Kashmir’s history.

Steps taken by India on August 05 were a major setback for Pakistan, however, these developments have exposed India. Today, although India is consolidating its relations with both East and West, nonetheless, it is facing criticism for its atrocities in Kashmir. Such a scenario would inevitably hamper India in pursuing its ambitions of becoming a major world power. Such aggressive steps are also fracturing India’s internal unity. The exclusive identity of Hindutva has resulted in the persistent attacks on Muslims and other religious denominations. The horrific Manipur incident is just one dark example. The extremist mindset that has engulfed the Indian state have trickled down to the society which would, in a longer run, weaken the Indian state.

Pakistan\’s Strategy on IIOJK

Pakistan, on its part, must maneuver a 4-tier strategy on IIOJK. First, Pakistan must continue to diplomatically raise the Kashmir issue with other states and in relevant international organizations. This is imperative to keep the IIOJK issue as a bilateral one, otherwise, as witnessed, it is currently being taken as an internal human rights issue of India. Second, Pakistan must approach the human rights organizations to highlight the deteriorating and miserable conditions of IIOJK Muslims and their harsh treatment by Indian security forces. In this way, Pakistan can muster the support of a wider international community. Third, Pakistan must now explore the legal options. Since the very beginning, the Kashmir issue has been promoted as an ‘unfinished agenda of partition’ and on the lines of Islamic ideology. Since, India has clearly violated the international law and UN resolutions which specifically restrict any actor from changing the status of Kashmir, the legal options that Pakistan could undertake must be worked upon.

Lastly, Pakistan needs to keep supporting the Kashmiri Muslims and through diplomatic channels, it should keep the spirit alive. The spark of freedom and self-determination that is ignited in the people of Kashmir must not be blown away by the oppressive measures of India so that, the indigenous struggle by the Kashmiri Muslims remain intact.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of the South Asia Times.

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