PM Imran’s offer to Kashmiris amounts to putting the cart before the horse
The Pakistani nation on Friday (February 5) observed another day of solidarity with the oppressed people of Kashmir. President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at various fora assured their fullest support to the Kashmiris, who have been struggling for decades to get independence from India.
Opposition parties also organized events to assure the Kashmiris of their continuous support for their rights.
This time Prime Minister Imran Khan went a step ahead.
At a public meeting in Kotli (AJK), he told Kashmiris that Pakistan will grant them — both the people of Azad Kashmir and Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) — the right to be part of Pakistan or be a free state, if they so wish.
The cricketer-turned-politician also made a conditional offer to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a dialogue on the Kashmir dispute.
"Today, I say to you again. Come resolve this Kashmir dispute with us. And for that, the first thing you must do is to restore Article 370. And then speak to us. And then, as per the United Nations resolution, give the Kashmiris their due right.”
Imran Khan reminded the United Nations that it has "not fulfilled (its) duty". "You did not live up to your promise," implying that the world body had failed to honour its commitments to the Kashmiris.
He assured the Kashmirts that not just all of Pakistan, but the Muslim world is standing with them.
"If Muslim governments, for any reason, are not supporting you today, I can assure you the entire population of the Muslim world is standing with the people of occupied Kashmir," he said, adding that even non-Muslims who favoured justice believed that Kashmiris should be given their promised right.
The offer made by the prime minister to Kashmiris after the ‘plebiscite’ is being characterized as a ‘third option’. It’s an offer that will become relevant only after a plebiscite is held in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.
Ostensibly, the ‘third option’ idea sounds very attractive, but, practically, it is nothing more than a rosy promise.
Everybody agrees that the enormity of the Kashmir dispute multiplied on Aug 5, 2019 – the day when India repealed the special status of the part of Kashmir under its occupation by revoking Article 370 of its Constitution.
After the illegal and immoral step India also took a number of steps to change the demography of the territory, rejecting the objections raised by the Kashmiris.
Now on the one hand Pakistan wants post-Aug 5 steps reversed and on the other get decades-old UN resolutions implemented.
This means that the PTI government would have to deal both with the UN and India to get the Kashmiris their rights.
But, in actuality, the PTI government has done nothing on this front, hollow rhetoric notwithstanding.
As a result, there is little possibility of the dispute being resolved even in the distant future.
UNSC resolutions will not be implemented unless all members of this world body, especially its permanent members, take due interest.
In other words, the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia should play an active role.
But barring China, which is time-tested and all-weather friend of Pakistan, can other countries of this body be expected to play a role?
Did the PTI government send high level delegations to these countries to win their support? Did it send delegations even to influential Islamic countries to seek their help to change the opinion and attitude of important countries on this important issue?
Then in the current era of materialism, is it possible for important Security Council members to prefer Pakistan to India on this issue, sacrificing their economic interests?
Unfortunately, answers to all these questions are in the negative.
Pakistan’s ambassadors posted in these countries so far have done nothing on this front.
And Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speeches at various fora, no matter how fiery, can’t change the situation in occupied Kashmir. They are forgotten the very next day.
It would have been a step in the right direction if the prime minister had personally visited important countries to get their support for Kashmir.
But neither did he undertake such missions during his first half term in office, nor is he expected to do this in the foreseeable future.
This means the world conscience would continue to sleep in the times ahead, turning a deaf ear to the Kashmiris’ rights.
There is also little possibility of India reversing its Aug 5 steps.
And the PTI government is not in a position to mount pressure on India or change the opinion of important countries.
In such a situation there is little justification for the prime minister to say what Pakistan is willing to do after the plebiscite in Kashmir.