Backed into a corner
The panicked response of the Pakistani administration in the face of recent foreign policy setbacks indicates that 73-year-old nation may have lost its way
Pakistan was dealt a very humiliating blow by the 57 members all-powerful Saudi backed Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which outrightly rejected a Pakistan plea to include Kashmir in the OIC agenda at its Foreign Ministers meeting held on November 27-29 at Niger's capital Niamey.
Bluntly dismissing Pakistani requests to drum up Kashmir issue, Secretary-General of the OIC, Dr Yousef Al Othaimeen disclosed in Riyadh on November 27 that Kashmir is not on the list of discussions and instead, Islamophobia, defamation of religion, Palestinians, funding of Rohingya Muslims and their case in the International Court of Justice would be debated at the forum. OIC also plans to outline the formatting and execution of "implementation of OIC 2025".
The rejection of the repeated Pakistani attempts to include Kashmir is a major setback to Pakistan foreign policy and perhaps a glaring diplomatic victory for the Indian diplomacy. It must have been possible due to robust, mature and aggressive pursuits on part of the Indian mandarins and policymakers to foil Pakistani bids to raise Kashmir in an international forum such as the OIC which is predominantly Islamic.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi while addressing the OIC's 47th audience at Niger on November 28, urged the OIC to prevail upon India for alleged provocation against the Muslims. His futile attempted to communalise the issue, outside the formal agenda, didn't elicit any response from the Muslim countries. Communalist, because he tried to caution 'rise' of Hindutva in India. Frustrated by the tepid reaction, Qureshi made a feeble attempt to seek support for exercising political and economic influence to rein in so-called atrocities in Kashmir. Qureshi, frustrated in the absence of any anti-India support, came down heavily on France by appealing to the audience for observing one day in the year as 'International Day to combat Islamophobia'.
However, amid conflicting reports, Pakistan claimed to have raised the Kashmir issue at the CFM (Council of Foreign Ministers) meeting. On its part, India describing Kashmir as the inalienable part of India has described allegations of human rights abuses in Kashmir as factually incorrect. In essence, Kashmir issue didn't get any publicity though matters of Islamophobia and need for a global dialogue did get a mention.
In another Pakistan related development, the country is under immense external pressure to mend ties with Israel. This looks very visible in the light of the Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE coming incredibly close to Israel. More notably, the November 23 meeting between Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia with the Israeli Intelligence (Mossad) Chief in tow has led to fresh thinking among a section of the Pakistani polity to revisit its policy towards Israel. Prime Minister Imran Khan very recently admitted being under severe pressure from some yet unnamed quarters that Pakistan should warm up to Israel in view of the changing ground political equations.
In this context, it may be worthwhile to point out that in 2005, then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf during one of his US visits, had met the members of the Jewish lobby there and was of the firm opinion that Pakistan needed to be friendly with Israel. Now, reliable sources feel that even a section of the Pakistani military wants to be getting close to Israel to use the Jewish lobby to use it against India to focus on Kashmir. However, such plans look utterly utopian with no chances whatsoever to woo Israel. That said, it's not predictable as yet if more pressure is mounted on Pakistan to cosy up to Israel so as to end the isolation being faced by Pakistan today in the global fraternity.
Turkey, as is widely known, is trying to use Pakistan to parrot Ankara led policies, is thought to be a stumbling block to Pakistani thinking of mending fences with Israel. Most likely, because of this and its own parochial and theological considerations, Pakistan has very recently rejected any move to recognise Israel though most of the Arab countries are going for a thaw. The explanation put forward by Pakistan is the same old record of extending support to the Palestinians on their inalienable right to self-determination which Pakistan claims to be in line with its stated official position. With the new Biden led US Government in the offing, the Jewish lobby is likely to strengthen ties with Israel and Pakistan needs to watch out for that as Turkey too will be on US radar for its pan-Islamic activities misleading the Muslim world as seen by Erdogan's actions and rhetoric in France and other European countries. Pakistan may have to pay a considerable price for not having heeded to an independent foreign policy keeping it's "dignity and sovereign credentials" intact.
Judging by the fresh happenings in Pakistan, a visit to the ISI headquarters by Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 29 is seen as significant. He was comprehensively briefed by the ISI chief, Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid and among those present at the briefing included Planning Minister, Asad Umar, Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and chiefs of the three arms of the military. The briefing, though details of which are kept under the wraps, was on national, international and regional issues. Here, 'regional' is fundamental as in all likelihood, matters discussed were how to target Kashmir in a more aggressive way as the most recent ISI machinations in abetting terror in the state of Kashmir met with decisive failures with huge casualties inflicted by the Indian security forces to the Jaish sponsored terror missions. The meeting possibly also discussed increasing ISI operations in Afghanistan to counter any Indian move to further befriend Afghanistan. These panic measures with the involvement of the deep state are indicative of the 73-year-old country, founded on the basis of religion, seems to be surely losing its way. That's at least the experts are assessing.
The writer is a security analyst who was the former National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. Views expressed are personal