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 of the LOC were the main victims of the skirmishes between two nuclear states. India didn’t only violate LOC but also breach 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, Pakistan air force went across the LOC and came back with Indian air force jets chasing them. Resultantly, two Indian jets were hit and one pilot Abhi Nandhan was arrested alive. PM Imran Khan, in a peace gesture and to deescalate the border tension announced to release the arrested wing commander. After his release Imran 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 that, “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 mature 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 last 70 years, got international attention. This was after 1998 nuclear tests of both India and Pakistan that world leaders really saw a danger coming for the whole world, if Kashmir remains unresolved. It is no doubt, a “nuclear flash point”, 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 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. The world leaders have called both India and Pakistan to negotiate final settlement of the Kashmir conflict. Countries like China, USA, UK, KSA, Turkey and other major international players have shown grave concern viz a viz border tension. Few heads of the states have offered for mediating the dialogues between two states.
Now, it is the responsibility of the government of Pakistan to cease this break and let Kashmiris advocate their case internationally. The so called hinderance in internationalization of the Kashmir conflict is Simla agreement of 1972. Let’s demystify the supposition:
The internationalization of the Kashmir conflict has been negated by the India, especially after 1972 Simla agreement between India and Pakistan. India focuses on the first half of the article two, sub section two, of the Simla agreement which states that, “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 that “or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed
upon between them.” Here “peaceful means mutually agreed upon” could be referred as the UN, as India itself took the Kashmir issue to the UN. Secondly, in the first sub 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, Simla agreement does not restrict Pakistan to Internationalize the Kashmir conflict. Moreover, Kashmiris are not a party to the Simla 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. Let Kashmiris take the lead.
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 than Indian premier, Indira Gandhi herself. So, this must be emphasized on the world stage and narrative of India should be challenged in context to the Simla agreement, that India quotes frequently.
It is also worthy to mention that recently European parliament had a debate over the Kashmir conflict. In current scenario, 40 MP’s of the European parliament have written letters to both Indian and Pakistani premiers, asking them to enter 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 organizations, 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 international community as it is ready to listen to the wounded Kashmiris.
Umair Pervez Khan is an M.Phil graduate in International Relations. Currently visiting lecturer at International Islamic University, Islamabad. He can be reached at: email@example.com