Internationalisation of Kashmir issue
Umair Pervez Khan
Pulwama attack on 14th February of this year brought Pakistan and India, two nuclear states on the brink of war. LOC faced high tension for at least two weeks and civilians on both sides were the main victims of the skirmishes between two nuclear states. India didn’t only violate LOC but also breached the international border by air striking the forest in the village of Balakot, KPK. This was for the first time after 1971 that international border was traversed by India. Retaliating to the aggression, two Indian jets were hit and one pilot Abhinandhan was arrested alive. PM of Pakistan Imran Khan, in a peace gesture and to deescalate the border tension announced to release the arrested wing commander. After his release, Khan was praised nationally and internationally for the peace gesture and few of his party men demanded Nobel peace prize for him which was turned down by PM himself by tweeting, “I am not worthy of Nobel peace prize, the person worthy of this would be the one who solves the Kashmir dispute according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people and paves the way for peace and human development in the subcontinent.” No doubt Imran Khan acted like a statesman.
The Pulwama attack which left 44 Indian soldiers dead and many injured, proved to be a blessing in disguise for the poor Kashmiris. The Kashmiris who have been at the receiving end of the Indian brutalities for the last 70 years, got international attention. This was after 1998 nuclear tests of both India and Pakistan that world leaders really saw the danger coming for the whole world if Kashmir remains unresolved. It is no doubt, a “nuclear flashpoint”, as pointed out by former US president Bill Clinton.
This is the real opportunity for Pakistan and Kashmiris to raise their voice on international forums as the world is concerned about the present situation. The international media has given ample coverage to the issue and has for the first time Kashmir issue, after many years, have come to the world stage seriously. World leaders have called both India and Pakistan to negotiate a final settlement of the Kashmir conflict. A few heads of states have also offered for mediating a dialogue.
Now, it is the responsibility of Pakistan to cease this break and let Kashmiris advocate their case internationally. The so-called hindrance in internationalisation of the Kashmir conflict is the Shimla Agreement of 1972. Let’s demystify the supposition:
The internationalisation of the Kashmir conflict has been negated by India, especially after the 1972 Shimla agreement between India and Pakistan. India focuses on the first half of the article two, subsection two, of the Shimla agreement which states, “the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations”. India deliberately does not mention the second half which states “or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them.” Here “peaceful means mutually agreed upon” could be referred to as the UN, as India itself took the Kashmir issue to the UN.
Secondly, in the first ssub-clause of article 2, it clearly states that“the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries.” So, it is misleading on the behalf of India that Kashmir conflict is a bilateral issue between Pakistan and India.
Additionally, the Sthe himla agreement does not restrict Pakistan to internationalise the Kashmir conflict. Moreover, Kashmiris are not a party to the Shimla agreement, so they should be empowered to plead their case on the global forums. Their voice will be well received as the main stakeholders of the conflict.
The same agreement also nullifies the claim of India that Kashmir is an integral part of India. The last article states, “Both governments agree that their respective heads will meet again at a mutually convenient time in the future and that, in the meanwhile, the representatives of the two sides will meet to discuss further the modalities and arrangements for the establishment of durable peace and normalization of relations, including the questions of prisoners of war and civilian internees, a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir and the resumption of diplomatic relations.” Here, the final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir conflict is accepted and signed by the then Indian premier, Indira Gandhi herself. So, this must be emphasised on the world stage and narrative of India should be challenged in context to the Shimla agreement, that India quotes frequently.
It is also worthy to mention that recently European parliament had a debate over the Kashmir conflict. In the current scenario, 40 MEPs have written letters to both Indian and Pakistani premiers, asking them to enter da dialogue to resolve the tension between the two countries. Pakistan should welcome the statements and efforts of the world community and must expose the unwillingness and stubbornness of the Indian state, not coming to the dialogues table.
Policy makers in Pakistan must decide to send special envoys to important world capitals and to significant organisations, to gather the maximum support for Kashmir cause. The thing to be kept in mind is that this time the envoys should not only be well prepared but also be comprised of Kashmiris who may plead their case effectively globally with an unbiased lens of the international community as it is ready to listen to the wounded Kashmiris.
The writer is an MPhil graduate in International Relations and is currently serving as a visiting lecturer at the International Islamic University, Islamabad.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.