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Has Pakistan lost the Kashmir Cause?

Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of the partition of sub-continent, a bone of contention between Pakistan and India, a nuclear flash point and a bilateral dispute, that started in 1947, transitioned into various phases, and now stands in a pretty much-complicated situation.

United Nation’s resolution remained unimplemented due to India fearing the outcome of losing Kashmir for good.

The stalemate condition of Kashmir took a turn when on 5th August 2019, India repealed articles 370 and 35A that ended the special status of Kashmir - a status which guaranteed that Kashmir would have independence over everything but communications, foreign affairs, and defense - and implemented a total lockdown and blackout in Kashmir that exacerbated the already existing gross human rights violations.

In response, the government of Pakistan under Imran Khan’s premiership utilized various diplomatic options to pressurize India into reinstating the pre-5th August status of Kashmir. Twice in 74th and 75th UNGA sessions, Imran Khan stressed upon the Indian illegal annexation of Kashmir and the grave human rights violations in Kashmir. Also, he tried to bring all the Muslim world leaders on one page on the Kashmir issue. All these efforts and clarion calls are seemingly falling on deaf ears and the international community with meager lip service so far remained a silent spectator of Indian atrocities in Kashmir.

As it seems that Pakistan apparently has failed to fight the Kashmir case and the movement that once started in Pakistan with vigor is slowly receding, are these indicators hinting at the lost Kashmir cause? Seemingly no policy option exists for the government to pursue the Kashmir cause anymore with the Kashmir movement dying slowly in Pakistan.

But, a deeper level analysis of some recent developments coupled with existing ground realities worth discussion in order to understand the future of Kashmir cause.

Earlier it was the only two players in the region fighting over Kashmir. Recently, a third player China has also jumped in. The clash between China and India at the Galwan Valley at Ladakh sent a message to India that it cannot unilaterally change the status of Kashmir. Despite requests and meetings, China didn’t retreat from the areas it occupied in Ladakh territory. Some analysts are of the view that China might have conditioned its retreat to reversal to the pre-5th August status of Kashmir. Humiliation and military defeat at the hands of People’s Liberation Army has suffered a heavy blow to Indian morale and ambitious ventures.

Moreover, with the inclusion of China that hosts a 1.4 billion population out of a total of 7.8 billion population in the world, the Kashmir issue has become more internationalized. The international media became more vocal on Kashmir issue. International analysts have written at length on the Kashmir issue. The international community became more sensitized to the repercussions of the Kashmir dispute if it remained unresolved. UNHRC highlighted gross human rights violations in Kashmir in its reports.

As Indian illegal attempt to annex Kashmir has violated the international laws and binding UNSC resolutions, coupled with much of the international pressure build-up on India through the internationalization of the issue, retaining its unilateral move would become difficult in long terms for India.

Another positive development worth mentioning here is that it was Trump’s administration that covertly threw its full weight behind Indian illegal moves in the region and its ambitious hegemonic designs of becoming economic and military power that had emboldened India into taking illegal steps in violation of international covenants. Gone are the days now, and under Joe Biden’s administration, circumstances might differ now. Pieces of evidence show that the US administration under Joe Biden might not be supportive of Indian illegal moves anymore. This claim goes very much in congruence to the stance taken by Joe Biden on Israel’s illegal annexation of the West Bank. While Trump supported Israel on it, Joe Biden opposed it bitterly. The same would be true in Kashmir case. As fearing isolation in the international community, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backed off on its annexation plans; India might feel compelled on similar lines to reverse the Kashmir status.

Moreover, Indian claims of its capability of fighting two-front wars against Pakistan and China simultaneously laid bare internationally since its defeat at the hands of China recently and aerial defeat at the hands of Pakistan in Feb. 2019. Moreover, Pakistan and China coming closer to each other have built up additional pressure on India tilting the balance of power in favor of the former states. With the US backing off slowly under the new administration and Pakistan and China’s close cooperation will place India in a precarious position where maintaining its aggressive posture will not be possible anymore.

Also, some recent pieces of evidence suggest Indian diminishing influence in the region. Iran’s shunting India out of the rail line project from Chabahar port to Zahedan and the possible emergence of Pak-China-Iran trio, straining Indian relationship with Bangladesh and thawing of frosty relationships between Pakistan and Bangladesh, due to the increasing influence of China in these countries has alienated India in the region. With these geopolitical developments in the region, India will be unable to cope up with the regional pressure on the just resolution of Kashmir cause as peace in Kashmir will ensure peace in the whole region.

The internal situation of Indian illegally occupied Kashmir and unrelenting indigenous voices and uprisings for freedom would never let the freedom struggle die. The current trend of suppressing freedom struggle, gagging voices, and total media blackout suggests that revolution in Kashmir is imminent. India would not be able to continue barbarism in Kashmir for long. Moreover, history is also evident that when ordinary masses are deprived of their rights, it leads to bloody revolution (as indicated by Imran Khan during the 74th UNGA’s session speech). India must not ignore the lessons taught by history as what had happened in the French, Russian, and Iranian revolutions.

Apart from these developments, imminent Afghan peace, Iran joining the China camp and CPEC successes are some positive indicators for Pakistan’s internal peace and stability. With internal stability comes an economic boom that will place Pakistan in a better position to fight for the Kashmir cause.

Thus, not an iota of evidence suggests that Kashmir is a lost cause for Pakistan. However, a few recommendations for Pakistan to scale up its efforts for Kashmir are, hereby, mentioned below.

Firstly, Pakistan must continue its diplomatic efforts for Kashmir cause that would translate into building up of the foreign pressure on India to reverse the status of Kashmir to pre-5 August 2019. Moreover, it must utilize all the multilateral platforms i.e. OIC, SCO, United Nations, etc. to sensitize the regional and international community about the latest developments in Kashmir.

Secondly, Pakistan must keep an aggressive military posture on its eastern border to deter any Indian designs to enter the Azad Kashmir region, coupled with befitting responses when India violates the ceasefire agreement on LOC.

Thirdly, Pakistan must keep cooperating closer with China in political and military domains and leverage this fruitful relationship in persuasion of Kashmir agenda.

Fourthly, Pakistan must maintain a balanced approach in its relationship with both the USA and China. Under the new US administration, it is hoped that the USA will disapprove the Indian illegal occupation and annexation of the Kashmir region.

In a nutshell, although apparently, it seems that Kashmir is a lost cause, but underlying many domestic and regional changes combined with diplomatic efforts and internationalization of Kashmir issue all herald that Kashmir is on a brink of revolution. India would not be able to sustain indigenously resistance and movements for freedom, regional isolation, and global pressure for long.

It is the local population of Kashmir, but not some exogenous force, that would decide the future of Kashmir and the fate of Kashmiri people.

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