Edit & Opinion

Pak’s New Offensive: New Delhi’s response

By Dr D K Giri

Islamabad has launched a fresh attack on India. Following the new map released officially by Nepal, Pakistan seeks to engage India in a cartographic war. The Government supporters say the new is a fresh rendition of the old one issued in 2017. The only changes are in the language and emphasis etc.

The map was released on 4th August, a day before the first anniversary of the repeal of Article 370, and 35A. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, flanked by his Foreign Minister Shah Muhammad Qureshi released it. He said the new map represents the aspirations and opinions of all political parties of Pakistan and the leadership of Kashmir. He added, it was a historic day. They would begin to campaign worldwide to secure Kashmir from India’s occupation. Imran Khan emphasised on the political resolution of the status of Kashmir under the UN Security Council, not a military solution.

Khan announced that the new map will be a part of the curriculum in schools and colleges. This means Pakistan is preparing the next generations to continue to claim territories from India. Pakistan has also decided to celebrate 5 August as You-e-Istehsal (Day of Exploitation). The Foreign Minister’s tone was more aggressive, as he declared that their next destination was Srinagar and said in the India-China border conflict, Islamabad has a view too.

The map shows entire Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Sir Creek region, Junagarh, and Manavadar regions of Gujarat, Siachen Glaciers as parts of Pakistan. The areas of Ladakh bordering China are stated to be undefined territory in deference to China.

The reaction from South Block was prompt and sharp. It said “Pakistan’s new map is an exercise in political absurdity.” The argument is untenable without any legal validity or global credulity. Pakistan claims that the map is the first step towards self determination of Kashmiris. New Delhi dismissed it as a cheap stunt; in reality, Islamabad uses terror as an instrument state policy. Pakistan is obsessed with territorial aggrandisement and backs it with cross-border terrorism.

Pakistan’s cartographic attack is not unpredicted and New Delhi also has reacted on predicted lines. What is interesting to note is Islamabad mirroring Nepal. Kathmandu did a new map claiming Indian territory, got it approved by their Parliament and is now sending it to international bodies. Islamabad wants to do the same.

Why have India’s neighbours raise their tempo against India? It is not difficult to unravel their strategies. Both the neighbours are working at the behest of Beijing, piggy-backing on China’s aggression. We have written ad nauseam how New Delhi fumbled against the Chinese and have emboldened our neighbours. Unless New Delhi successfully rebuffs China, our discomfiture in South Asia will get worse, not better. New Delhi’s China policy still lacks teeth. The Foreign Minister continues to prevaricate; talks of no alliance, appeals to Chinese to trust India that it is still not aligned with USA, Australia, Japan, or France.

At any rate, we are not engaging here with our policy on China. We deal with our Pakistan policy. Why do we let Kashmir issue fester? How does Pakistan raise it time and again? Clearly, we are not doing enough to silence Pakistan. Also, we allow the other countries to comment on Kashmir as a disputed territory. Our diplomacy has been found lacking.

As luck would have it, Pakistan became isolated in the world after the United States pulled off its hand. Islamabad is left with China and Turkey to support it on Kashmir. In the past, Pakistan used to get more support as we had to depend upon the former Soviet Union to veto any resolution in the Security Council. Even in international politics, you have friends and adversaries.

Facts do not speak for themselves. You need supporters to present the facts for you. Imran Khan talks about United Nations Security Council; we refer to the Shimla Agreement mandating both countries for a bilateral solution.

What is the background to Kashmir issue? Does Pakistan have a case? The answer is a big No. Why is New Delhi not placing the facts before the international community and call Pakistan’s bluff?

In August 1947, when India and Pakistan became independent from Britain about 600 principalities were given the choice of joining India or Pakistan. About 500 joined India and 100 or so annexed to Pakistan. This was done through an Instrument of Accession, which stated that if the king along with the largest party signed to join, that will be treated as final and irrevocable.

Jawaharlal Nehru taking it to the United Nations and offering a plebiscite is fraught with legal complexities and cannot override the Instrument of Accession. To illustrate, Nehru did not get his proposal to go to UN approved by the Cabinet, nor was it ratified by Parliament. Hence it does not obligate India to adhere to it. Second, the UN clearly suggests that India could keep some amount of its Force necessary to maintain law and order, whereas Pakistan had to withdraw all of its army and the irregulars.

Lord Mountbatten, Governor-General of India wrote to Maharaja Hari Singh who signed the Instrument of Accession, that “as soon as Kashmir soil is cleared of the invader, people could be consulted on the accession.” Pakistan had not vacated Kashmir, so there was no question of any referendum. Third, a resolution that had not been implemented in over 70 years is no longer valid. New Delhi should write to the UNSC for the revocation of that Resolution.

So we are back to the Instrument. Here, the shoe is on the other leg. Pakistan is the invader and the illegal occupier of Indian territory. Worse, it has given away parts of it to China. So China also is the illegal occupant of part of Kashmir.

Why has India not formally claimed POK except in informal talks within the country? The Indian Parliament passed a unanimous resolution to say the entire Kashmir belongs to India. Why has New Delhi not launched a diplomatic offensive to claim POK? Some experts including from JNU, suggest that both countries have no other option than to accept LoC as the permanent border. That is a weak and unparliamentarily position.

India’s foreign policy has been reactive, not pro-active. That is the crux of the problem. Pakistan talks of self-determination of Kashmiris. What about the self-determination of Baluchs? New Delhi can recognise Baluchistan as a separate country and open diplomatic contact with them.  If that is too radical, open a Centre to deal with human rights violations in Baluchistan. It is time New Delhi took the fight to Beijing and Islamabad. There has to be a serous strategy shift, not the outdated platitudes we get to hear from our Foreign Minister.

 


The author is Prof. International Politics, JMI

 

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