The Kashmir Question

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When there is no better environment available for a direct dialogue between countries, they switch to indirect mode of dialogue. The indirect mode of dialogue with the help of a third party is known as backchannel or backdoor diplomacy. Modern history is full of examples of backdoor diplomacy with successful results like the diplomacy of  the Republic of China with US, UAE engagement with Israel or KSA with Iran. Pakistan and India, on loggerheads over the issue of Kashmir, have used the option of backdoor diplomacy many times in the past and have once again switched to an indirect mode of dialogue.  According to sources, there is an indirect link of communication between the two countries for the past few months. The officials are secretly handling the matter, and have not disclosed many details yet.

 India has been undergoing many constitutional changes in the disputed region of Kashmir since the second term of the BJP government. Beginning with the revocation of articles 370 and 35A, the Indian state has unilaterally changed the status of Kashmir. It has ended the special relationship of Kashmir with the state of India which it had maintained for the last 70 years. Since then, the govt in Pakistan was demanding the international community to pressure India for the restoration of the special status of Kashmir and reminding India that Kashmir is an international disputed region. With the backdoor diplomacy, now in process, the main focus is on the establishment of trust between the two countries by looking at the Question of Kashmir.

Pakistan has always wanted to have good relations with India. It also demands a solution to the problem of Kashmir as per the wishes of Kashmiris. It has always supported the peace process and cashed in the opportunity of engaging India in fruitful dialogue. Contrary to the past, relations between the two rivals are at depths today. Pakistan wants to restart the process of dialogue on the insistence of its Arab friends but demands India to establish an environment.

To restore the lost trust between the two rivals, it is needed from India to ease the suffering of the Kashmiri people. Since the revocation of the special status of Kashmir, there was a complete communication blockage in IIOJ&K. The people of Indian occupied Kashmir were not able to talk to their dear and near ones, and they had no internet to become aware of what was happening around them or the globe. India has restored the communication to some extent, but not fully. India can ease the suffering of the Kashmiri people by allowing the internet to go on. Along with that, there is a need to restore the movement of people in the disputed region to give Kashmiris their fundamental right.

India has also revoked the domicile law of Kashmir. According to the changed law, Indian citizens can own and sell property in the disputed region. It is feared that India is changing the demographic status of Kashmir by turning the muslim majority in the area into a minority. India can also remove the said law from the region, which will help in the restoration of trust between the rivals. It will also save the rights of the indigenous people of Kashmir.

Another area to restore the trust between the two countries is to lessen the number of military deployments in Indian held Kashmir. Over 8 lakh military is deployed in the valley, checking and looking at every inch of the beautiful land. It is the highest deployment in the valley in history and is considered as the highly militarized zone in the world. The govt of India should decrease the number of military personnel in the area to ease the situation in the valley. It will boost the confidence of locals and their businesses will be restored to some extent. Pakistan, which claims to be much concerned with the issue of Kashmiris, would be silenced and negotiations would resume.

 After the revocation of articles 370 and 35A, India has detained hundreds of political activists in Indian held Kashmir. They were either restricted to their homes or taken to jails, fearing that they might inflame the public about the inhuman approach of India towards Kashmiris. With the orders of higher courts of India to depopulate the prisons because of the worsening covid19, kashmiri leaders are still behind the bars. Releasing the Kashmiri leaders from the bar will also ease the tension between the two countries. Most of those leaders were loyal to India in the past, and India must have the guts to listen to their criticism regarding the changed status of Kashmir.

Backdoor diplomacy is a safe way to handle a diplomatic crisis. The brokers, this time, are not only friends to Pakistan, but they have also the Indian diaspora and views India as a large export market for their hydrocarbons. The fact is that the process of negotiations is in the interest of both nations. It is not only Pakistan, but India is equally interested in the backdoor diplomacy.

Indian prime minister is under criticism over his mishandling of covid 19 crises. Leading the world as per the highest patients of covid19, hundreds of thousands of new cases are registered and thousands are killed on daily basis in India. Modi is partly responsible for the situation because of his hollow policies and not imposing lockdown when everyone was calling for it. Along with that, the past year’s skirmishes with china had also cleared to India that it can’t face the forces of Pakistan and China simultaneously. It has also exposed the military preparation of India to the international community and its weaker position to the regional countries.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, it has always stated that the Kashmir issue needs to be solved. Being a part of its foreign policy, Pakistan has always highlighted the sufferings of the kashmiri people and urged India to sit with him and solve the issue as per the wishes of Kashmiris. Whether it was the Shimla conference or the Musharraf plan, Pakistan was always sincere in its endeavors to solve the issue democratically. Along with that, Pakistan is also forced from the FATF to take control of the terror financing. Pakistan needs to engage India to show the world that it is fulfilling the demands of FATF by taking curb on the terror financing.

There is no place left for a war between India and Pakistan. Having nuclear weapons on both sides, no one is in a position to escalate the situation into a full-fledged war against each other. There are many issues, where both countries can work together like eliminating poverty, improving the health sector, and fighting the climate crises. There is a need for constant engagement between the two neighbors and a permanent solution to the burning issue of Kashmir. People, on both sides, have suffered a lot, and it is time to go out of this animosity.

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About Safi Ullah Khan 4 Articles
Safi Ullah Khan has done Masters in English Literature and Linguistics from NUML, Islamabad.

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