War of words at UNGA
The 74th session of the UN General Assembly saw the world leaders palpably discuss the Kashmir episode as India continues to be wary of terror infiltrations
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 74th session was more than significant this time as post-August 5 Kashmir-related developments were prominently debated by the world leaders. The principal focus, however, was on Prime Minister Modi's speech and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan's outburst on September 27. While the Indian Prime Minister lashed out in a veiled reference to Pakistan for abetting terror, Imran Khan, behaving and speaking like an amateur, conveyed the threat of war between India and Pakistan over the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir in an attempt to muster support of the international community expressing 'solidarity' with the Kashmiri Muslims. The contents of the speech lacked rationale and were packed with propaganda material.
Imran Khan, however, came under severe criticism among others by US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells, for not highlighting the horrific conditions prevailing amongst the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, China. Imran was castigated for his selective outrage against Indian action in Jammu and Kashmir. The US official wanted a similar level of concern expressed by Imran for the Chinese Muslims who remain detained in concentration camps in China. Pakistan's double standards were exposed.
Pakistan clearly has Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad on its side as was evident by Mahathir's speech in the UNGA. The nonagenarian leader warned about the possibility of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan describing J&K as a separate country. Mahathir indeed crossed all the decent limits by stretching so far without realising the seriousness or lack of it in his irresponsible statement. He didn't stop there. Mahathir even alleged that Kashmir was invaded and occupied by India, violating all UN resolutions.
On the lines of Mahathir and Imran, President Erdogan of Turkey also delivered high decibel speech using disparaging remarks against the Indian decision of abrogating Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. It was a clear signal demonstrating Turkish 'solidarity' with Pakistan and Kashmiri Muslims. Erdogan has always been known to side with Pakistan in his ongoing exhibitionism of being a self-proclaimed champion of the cause of the Muslims, be it Rohingyas or the Kashmiri Muslims. He conveniently forgets his blood-tainted hands used against the Kurds and fellow Turks who stood up as dissenters against Erdogan's excesses.
On India's part, it was a masterstroke of diplomacy when Prime Minister Modi, on the sidelines of the UN meet, met the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan. History is a witness of territorial aggression and genocide by Turkey against these countries in the past. India's diplomatic offensive in meeting these leaders would definitely put Erdogan on some kind of defensive stance, possibly forcing him to rethink any pro-Pakistan stand on Kashmir. India needs to intensify such initiatives to put a brake on Erdogan's unbridled rhetoric on Kashmir.
Imran, who is perhaps still reeling under the fantasy of his UN speech trying to project the 'plight' of the Kashmiri Muslims, was criticised upon his return to Pakistan by several members of the political opposition. Bilawal, leader of Pakistan's Peoples Party (PPP), who described how Imran's speech was selective and politically motivated. Imran's illusion that he would gain some political mileage for domestic gains by his anti-India address at the UN lies shattered, as per most of the analysts and scholars pursuing Pakistan. In any case, Imran's speech was viscerally dissected soon after its delivery by the junior Indian diplomat who brilliantly rebutted each allegation with sound reasoning and bare facts.
J&K, in the meantime, is not losing focus of the authorities responsible to maintain law and order especially in the wake of August 5 happenings. A section of the population in and around Srinagar waited till Imran's speech was over (September 27) and brought out a small procession shouting slogans, but in the absence of any popular support, it fizzled out. Healing touch efforts continue.
No other than the National Security Advisor (NSA), visited (September 26) the valley and reviewed security conditions on the ground. He made it amply clear to the J&K authorities that ordinary public should not be inconvenienced at any cost ensuring incessant medical help and commutation facilities. The forces on the ground are also exercising extra precautions to see that people at large are not affected. With major political leaders under protective detention, authorities perhaps need to be sensitive that people, especially the youth, don't go rudderless, stray or fall into the trap of allurements subtly offered by the forces across the border who are leaving no stones unturned to exploit the prevailing situation.
Pakistani agencies, particularly the ISI, are on the lookout for an opportunity to strike and create a vitiating atmosphere to operate at will, suiting their selfish nefarious interests.
Attempts of infiltration are ongoing to foment terror. Very recently, three terrorists belonging to the Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM) were killed in an encounter in Batote, Ramban. Those killed were Osama Javed Zahid and Moin ul Islam from Kshitwar. According to authoritative sources, it is a major setback to a new terror module activated by one Jahangir Sapori. Instigation from Pakistan is likely to be more intensified in view of the security situation.
Meanwhile, there are credible reports suggesting dropping of huge quantity of arms by drones in Punjab. Similar activities cannot be ruled out for J&K which is more vulnerable than Punjab – like the arms dropping (on the lines of Purulia in 1995). ISI designs of propelling a Khalistani movement revival and injecting a boost to the Kashmiris' movement, if any, remain a possibility. Reports also suggest that Pakistani terror elements are resorting to riverine routes including using the overflowing Basantar river to infiltrate. Thankfully, on-ground alertness displayed by the Indian security forces has so far been able to neutralise any large-scale infiltration. The situation has no scope for any complacency on part of our security agencies.
Judging by the unfolding disturbing developments, it is clear that ISI, not surprisingly though, is trying to bring in Khalistanis and Kashmiri separatist elements, particularly those active overseas, under one platform to draw international attention. This was visible by the choreographed anti-India demonstrations staged outside the UN building when the high voltage orations on J&K were in progress.
(The author is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. The views expressed are strictly personal)
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