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Diplomatic offensive

Speaking to the press on Monday, Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said:  “We have the desired capability to respond to such acts of aggression and violence. We reserve the right to respond to any act of the adversary at a time and place of our own choosing.” Behind closed doors, however, reports indicate that the government has been advised against taking rash military action in response to the Uri attack. In a sign that New Delhi is not contemplating an immediate escalation of hostilities along the Line of Control, the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service has been allowed proceed as scheduled. Instead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given his assent to “diplomatically isolate Pakistan” at all international forums, starting with the United Nations. Top leaders from the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom have issued statements condemning the attack. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that perpetrators of the Uri attack will be brought to justice. Russia went a step further and called off a joint military exercise with Pakistan. In other words, all permanent members of the UN Security Council have shown solidarity with India at a time when New Delhi seeks to isolate Pakistan globally. At first glance, the conditions seem conducive for a diplomatic offensive at the United Nations General Assembly next week. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who has been fielded by the Indian government to launch its diplomatic offensive, is likely to find a sympathetic audience. The Minister is likely to raise the terror attacks in Uri and Pathankot in her speech at the General Assembly, highlighting Pakistan’s role. Meanwhile, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday wrote to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, seeking their intervention in what he referred to as "grave human rights violations" in Jammu and Kashmir. The letter categorically stated that the "non-resolution" of the Kashmir dispute was a "constant source of tension and instability in the region and a threat to international peace and security." This is nothing but a charade on Pakistan’s part.

It has no real concern for Kashmir's fate. Isn’t it a coincidence that Sharif’s letter comes amidst mounting criticisms over human rights abuses by the Pakistani forces in Balochistan, as it tries to obliterate local opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor? New Delhi has called Islamabad’s bluff, as it registered a statement with the UN Human Rights Council, which pointed out "human rights violations in Pakistan" that "cry for the world's attention", especially in the province of Balochistan. The region has seen a decades-old movement for secession. India's statement spoke of forced disappearances and the brutal use of force by the Pakistan Army against civilians. In a recent column for an Indian daily, C. Christine Fair, one of America’s leading South Asian affairs experts, writes: “Turning to the issue of Balochistan on the one hand and the recent events in Kashmir on the other: both campaigns of violence are manifestations of Pakistani policy. The Pakistan army, along with the Frontier Corps and its various intelligence agencies are waging an all-out war against the Baloch to clear the province for Chinese economic exploitation. There are no estimates of the casualties or of the persons who have disappeared. There is no accounting for the whereabouts of these myriad disappeared persons.” As much as one agrees with the above assessment, these are allegations that have also been made against the Indian security forces in Kashmir, not just by Islamabad but by a plethora of international observers. In fact, New Delhi has long prevented the UN from sending its team of international observers to investigate these allegations. India must also clean up its own act, and cannot leave all charges of human rights violations by its security forces at the doorstep of cross-border terror.  

But one cannot talk about an Indian diplomatic offensive without a reference to UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. Both the civilian and military establishments in Pakistan have constantly sought to renew their demands that all UNSC resolutions on the “disputed” region be fulfilled. Earlier this year, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi said that the resolution of the Kashmir dispute is only possible through the “realisation” of the right to self-determination of the people of Kashmir, as per UNSC resolutions, through a fair and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices. She continues to believe that “non-implementation of UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to the Kashmir issue is a travesty of law”. However, any reading of these resolutions makes it abundantly clear that it was incumbent on Pakistan to first withdraw all non-Kashmiris from the area, including its security forces and “non-state actors”. Before India made any commitment to withdraw its troops from the region, Pakistan was supposed to fulfill these obligations. In any case, India was allowed to retain sufficient forces to prevent any further incursions by Pakistani forces. Once the UN-appointed body signed off on these two steps, then arrangements for a plebiscite were to take place. Islamabad has no one but itself to blame for the non-implementation of these resolutions. New Delhi has the chance to expose this gaping hole in Pakistan's argument. 
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