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India-Pak Spat In UN: FRESH TROUBLE IN BILATERAL TIES, By Amrita Banerjee, 5 Oct, 2015 Print E-mail

Round The World

New Delhi, 5 October 2015 

India-Pak Spat In UN


By Amrita Banerjee

(School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi)


Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent jibe over ‘Kashmir’, in the United Nations General Assembly, has called for some fresh trouble in the bilateral ties between India and its neighbour. Misusing the world platform, Pakistan has once again lived up to its old habit of internationalising and sensitising various issues of dispute with India, ‘Kashmir’ being it’s most favourite.


Not only this, Islamabad is seen upping the ante on a host of irritants with India at various other global summits too. Where on one side, Sharif entertained the world audience in the UN; his National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz sulked about the same while addressing a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).


While Sharif in his 15-minutes address in the UNGA referred to Kashmir as a land under ‘foreign occupation’, accusing India for alleged rights violations, for firing at the Line of Control (LoC), and rejecting the composite dialogue process agreed to in 1997; his trusted adviser peppered swipes at India for ‘unprovoked and indiscriminate’ ceasefire violations, holding sham elections in J&K and trying ‘to quell the Kashmiri struggle by use of brute force’.


Sharif stressed the fact that the non-resolution of the Kashmir issue reflected the failure of the UN and further proposed a 4-step peace plan with India (which bears resemblance to the one proposed by former Pakistan President, Parvez Musharraf) namely--formalising the ceasefire, demilitarising Kashmir and the Siachen Glacier, and agreeing to end the use of force. To pressurise New Delhi further, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN also handed over dossiers to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon that included allegations of ‘Indian interference and support of terrorism’ and ‘intelligence agency links with the Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan’.


The severity of Pakistan’s attack in the UN seems to be linked to the shift in the Indian strategy towards bringing up Pakistan’s human rights violations in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), including Gilgit and Baltistan. India has come a long way where it always used to play on the defensive with reference to Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated this change when he stated that he intended to stick to his ‘red lines’ on Kashmir and so any talks between the two countries will not be on terms set by Pakistan alone.


That Modi and Sharif stayed in New York at the same hotel and attended the same conference along with world leaders, and yet did not make the time for a bilateral meeting indicates that there has been no diplomatic headway since National Security Adviser-level talks between the two countries were cancelled in August.


While responding to Pakistan, India has rejected the allegations levelled against it and recalled its earlier position that the OIC had no locus standi in the matter. Using its right to reply External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj described Pakistan as ‘the occupier in question’ in J&K, rejected Sharif’s 4-point peace proposal and instead stressed on only one point, i.e. Pakistan end support to terror groups as talks can happen only in an atmosphere free from terror and violence.


This ugly spat, however, has raised certain important issues. First, it has again exhibited Islamabad’s lack of sincerity in solving the Kashmir issue bilaterally. Over the years, Pakistan has had numerous failed attempts in trying to get the UN or the P-5 Security Council members to consider any reference on Kashmir (the subject was last discussed by the UNSC in 1971). However, all of its references and pleas to UN committees to take up the dispute have been disregarded, and every P-5 nation has counselled both countries to resolve the issue bilaterally. Recall that in the Simla Agreement (1972), both countries had resolved to settle their differences through ‘bilateral negotiations or any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them’.


Secondly, this recent jibe can also be yet another tactic by Islamabad to draw world attention to an unresolved issue so that India’s chances of becoming a permanent member in the body in future (in an event of reforms) get marred. Many critical voices have also claimed that New Delhi’s decision to reply to the Pakistani line on Kashmir with counter-allegations on the PoK seems to be a misplaced step as it would only invite the multilateral spotlight back on to the Kashmir issue.


In fact, as an active aspirant to a permanent seat in the Security Council, India’s stature would be enhanced internationally if it instead sets in motion a bilateral process to resolve issues with its neighbour. But the reality is that being too idealistic does not help in international affairs. India can enhance its stature internationally by placing the right facts before the world as Pakistan attempts to distort reality and portray a false picture of the challenges in our region.


Thirdly, the heart of the matter is that Pakistan today is unable to control the menace of terrorism it once created. Even as Sharif pointed fingers at India for the instability in Pakistan the reality remains that terrorism in Pakistan is home grown, it uses terrorism as a legitimate instrument of statecraft, continues to be a ‘prime sponsor of terrorism’ and ‘a victim of its own policies of breeding and sponsoring terrorists’. As it becomes increasingly difficult for it to fight against it, Islamabad prefers to shift the responsibility on others.


Fourthly, Islamabad is least serious in dealing with terrorism either. It can be manifested by the fact that it allows the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to ‘roam free’. Alluding to the recent attacks in Gurdaspur and Udhampur, it can be said with conviction that Pakistan continues to send terrorists into India, two of whom were arrested recently in J&K. In this regard, Sharif’s demand for demilitarisation of LoC without a commitment to end cross-border infiltration sounds disingenuous.


Fifthly, this issue has given rise to different shades of opinion in India’s domestic front. While the separatist groups in Kashmir have hailed Sharif for demanding complete demilitarisation of J&K, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah criticized the Sharif government for ‘fudging facts’ and further reminded Pakistan that according to the UNSC Resolution 47 of 1948, Islamabad was supposed to vacate all of J&K first.


In this regard, Sushma Swaraj’s call to the world to unite on the challenge of terror, saying that the UN must pass the Comprehensive Convention on International Terror in the current 70th year of the world body, is indeed laudable. Apart from giving Islamabad a fitting reply, she also gave the world a larger picture by touching on the real issue. In the long run, however, New Delhi’s concerns can be addressed by following a three-pronged strategy: Firstly, it clearly and consistently articulates the steps it wishes Islamabad to take to root out this menace. Secondly, seizing the initiative for future talks and spelling out what it wants to talk about and when and thirdly, acting tough with Pakistan by giving it a fitting reply diplomatically and militarily whenever required without maintaining a dignified silence over Pakistan’s allegations as it used to do in the past. ---INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)







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