Every Pakistani is taught from childhood that Kashmir should have been a part of Pakistan and that we need to fight for the ‘unfinished business of partition’ i.e. to ensure that we wrest Kashmir from Indian control. The Pakistani state has over the decades made jihad into a lever of its foreign policy. But have we ever paused to think how that has hurt the Kashmiris who live in India?
According to Dr Mohammad Taqi, well known analyst and commentator “From fielding a tribal militia in Kashmir in 1947-48, to deploying irregular infiltrators in the 1965 Operation Gibraltar, to a massive jihadist incursion in Kargil, to the Pulwama attack, Pakistan has used proxies to prosecute its foreign policy goals. While it has failed to fuel its objectives, it has precipitated tremendous regional instability and a massive jihadist blowback inside Pakistan.”
Further, Taqi points out, “The Pakistani army justifies its existence and the massive budget allocations to it by perpetuating conflicts beyond the country’s borders. And in doing so, it severely weakens the Kashmiri cause. The first casualty of the current hostilities was the plight of the Kashmiris. While the Indian excesses in Kashmir draw sporadic attention, concern and condemnation, the JeM-type terror undermines and delegitimises the genuine grievances of the Kashmiri people.”
As former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States and well-known author Husain Haqqani notes perceptively: “It might be a bitter pill to swallow for some Pakistanis, but Pakistan’s 30-year strategy of supporting insurgents and militants in Kashmir has failed. Pakistan’s policy has made life more difficult for the Kashmiri Muslims it claims to support. Violence supported from across the border has resulted in an Indian clampdown and obscured international concern about human rights in Kashmir.”
Further, according to Haqqani, “Moreover, most countries, including some of Pakistan’s few remaining friends abroad, failed to even mention Kashmir as an issue during the current imbroglio. China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — all of whom have recently promised significant amounts of loans and investment to help bail out Pakistan’s troubled economy — spoke of the need for de-escalation but said nothing that could be construed as support for Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir.”
Haqqani’s prescription, “Pakistan can no longer link its tolerance or support for terrorist groups with the grievances of the people of Kashmir in hope of securing international attention or support. That — along with Indian attention to Kashmiri human rights concerns — might be the most effective means of avoiding recurrent India-Pakistan conflagrations in the future.”