There can’t be a greater disservice to Kashmir cause
About four months ago, Prime Minister Imran Khan, while highlighting the sensitivity of decades-old Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, said in an interview that the issue is “much bigger and complicated than the world is considering it”.
He said he had briefed President Donald Trump about the sensitivity of the Kashmir issue and is also making every possible effort to resolve the Kashmir issue in a peaceful manner.
The prime minister said that the world should realize that Narendra Modi-led government is following the ‘Nazi’ type Hindu supremacist ideology, calling upon the United Nations and Trump to help mediate between nuclear-armed countries over the resolution of the dispute.
This is the gravity of the situation in the prime minister’s own words when on Wednesday got elected Kohat’s Shehryar Afridi as chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir following a walkout of members from three mainstream opposition parties.
It was for the first time in the country’s parliamentary history that consensus could not emerge over the election for the committee’s head.
It may be relevant to recall here that in September last year PM Imran Khan addressed a rally in Muzaffarabad, and said that continued crackdown in occupied Kashmir is "pushing more people into extremism".
"When atrocities reach their peak, people would prefer death to the insulting life," he said. "I want to tell India that, by detaining thousands of people, you are pushing people into extremism. People will rise against India, and it is not just about Indian Muslims. There are 1.25 billion Muslims around the world. They all are watching this."
As Kashmir Committee chairman Mr Afridi is supposed to highlight the Kashmir cause at the international level and seek support for Pakistan’s point of view.
(No one should forget that Mr Afridi, as minister for narcotics control, could not prove the drugs case against PTI’s arch-rival Rana Sanaullah Khan).
The new chairman will need considerable time to understand the Kashmir dispute, its background, India’s arguments on the basis of which it claims its right over the territory and Pakistan’s counterarguments.
If the outgoing Kashmir Committee Chairman (Syed Fakhr Imam) despite being a well-read and seasoned politician could not undertake a single foreign visit on Kashmir in a couple of years of his incumbency, Mr Afridi cannot be expected to perform better. And by the time he will acquaint himself with facts of the case, the government’s five-year term will be over.
Mr Afridi’s election for the post in the prevailing circumstances is a great disservice to the Kashmir cause. This decision had established beyond doubt that the government has no interest in resolving the dispute or getting millions of subjugated Kashmiris their rights. It is like consigning the matter to the dustbin.
A man who doesn’t have the support of opposition parties cannot be expected to convince the world about the genuineness of Pakistan’s stance.
Maybe, it is still time for the government to review this decision and bring a better position to the fore who could meet the challenge. Let Mr Afridi perform a role he is capable of.