The compulsions of Pakistan’s domestic politics have once again pushed our western neighbour to harden its stand vis-à-vis Kashmir. Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushing for a détente which included an unscheduled trip to Lahore on the way back from Afghanistan and before that inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony, the hawks at the service headquarters in Rawalpindi have not allowed the initiative to get beyond the exchange of pleasantries.
This became evident once again when Pakistan’s envoy at United Nations Maleeha Lodhi on Wednesday made a statement before the 193-member General Assembly on Kashmir during a debate on human rights. In her statement, Lodhi, apart from raising the Kashmir issue, termed the recent death of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani as “extra-judicial”. She went on to address the terrorist a leader of Kashmiri people.
Lodhi was provided with a befitting counter by New Delhi’s permanent representative at UN Syed Akbaruddin, who said that Pakistan’s statement amounted to extolling the virtues of a terrorist. Akbaruddin did well to bring to the notice of the world forum that unrest in the valley was stoked largely by Pakistan-based terrorist groups and that there was need for the world to come together to counter the scourge of terrorism. Akbaruddin rightly said that it is regrettable that Pakistan attempted to “misuse” the UN platform and went on to charge that Pakistan as a country “covets” the territory of others; a country that uses terrorism as state policy towards that misguided end; a country that extols the virtues of terrorists and that provides sanctuary to UN-designated terrorists; and a country that masquerades its efforts as support for human rights and self-determination.”
However, this cannot be seen by any stretch of imagination as a diplomatic victory as the world body is still to endorse New Delhi’s recent attempts to control unrest in the Valley. Rather the UN has expressed concern over the tense situation in Kashmir, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling on all parties to exercise “maximum restraint to avoid further violence.” It has said that all concerns should be addressed through peaceful means. Ban’s spokesman had also regretted the loss of dozens of lives and injuries to many others.
New Delhi can expect more such attacks on it on the world body especially given the increasing demand in Pakistan for the chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif to depose the democratically elected government, which is not seen to be doing enough for the Kashmir issue. Earlier this week banners came out on the important squares of all the cities of Pakistan urging General Sharif to give up his early retirement plans and work towards reviving martial law in the country. Islamabad has been lucky to keep off the military from its precincts for about a decade a now. However, there is no guarantee about how long Pakistan’s current tryst with democracy would continue. Given the state of political flux in Pakistan, New Delhi would have to maintain continues vigil both against the attack on its territory and on the world forums.