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Independence Day realities

This year the whole nation dedicated Independence Day to our Kashmiri brothers and sisters, calling it ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ to stand with after New Delhi introduced constitutional measures to try and change the region’s demographics. President Dr Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, as well as the entire political leadership has vowed to support the Kashmiri cause. The prime minister spent Independence Day in Muzaffarbad while earlier on Eid, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari were also in the same city. These actions and words are worthy of appreciation, but in view of grim realities, our leadership will have to go beyond such measures and take practical steps that would force India into comprehensive negotiations.
Is it easy to internationalise the Kashmir issue? Foreign Minister Qureshi has recently been pretty straight forward in pointing out the limits of taking the case to the United Nations. Even if Pakistan does approach the UNSC, it is very likely that any one of the five permanent members would veto the move. The foreign minister needs to be cautious in expressing his thoughts. He could have said this in some other words without hurting the core issue. He knows that of the five members, at least China, our time-tested friend, would stand by Pakistan. Similarly, he talked about the economic interests of the Ummah in India. Some diplomats should brief the foreign minister that if cards are played well, these fiscal realities could force India to listen to the Muslim world. One needs to play both soft and coercive cards to win the goal. In all, the press conference of the minister in Muzaffarabad on Eid day was just a spoiler.
Mr Qureshi was, however, right in pointing out the decisive role of the Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora, especially those living in foreign capitals. If Pakistani and Kashmiri expatriates struggle with renewed energy, it is very likely that the world media, civil society and powerful lobbies would start listening. Meanwhile, there is also no harm in reaching out to sane minds in India who share our concerns about their government’s recent actions.



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