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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

Kashmir: The diplomatic battle

Pakistan failed at the UNHRC. The next battle is in New York

editorials Updated: Sep 11, 2019 19:25 IST

Hindustan Times
Shah Mahmood Qureshi adopted a maximalist position and raised the possibility of a war
Shah Mahmood Qureshi adopted a maximalist position and raised the possibility of a war(AFP)

India and Pakistan faced off at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) over New Delhi’s decision to reorganise Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and revoke its special status. Pakistan, which fielded its foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, adopted a maximalist position and raised the possibility of a war. The Indian response, provided by two diplomats, noted that Pakistan’s top leadership is using the issue to call for jihad and to encourage violence in J&K. Pakistan also presented a joint statement, which its diplomats claimed had the support of 60 unnamed countries, and listed steps India should take to address the Kashmir situation.

On the face of it, there appears to be little global appetite for Pakistan’s efforts to internationalise the Kashmir issue. In fact, most countries, including those which are among the 47 members of the UNHRC, have not opposed India’s contention that these changes are an internal matter. China is among the few countries that has spoken out against India’s actions, though its opposition has been more in the context of Ladakh. China’s opposition also has to be seen through the prism of its relationship with Pakistan, with Beijing being the only world capital that consistently backed Islamabad’s latest campaign on Kashmir. For the harried Pakistani leadership, Kashmir is a handy diversion at a time when it is grappling with a tanking economy, global pressure to counter terrorism, and public anger over poor governance. However, the battle of perception over Kashmir is not over. Having been stymied at several forums, Pakistan will raise it at the UN General Assembly in New York later this month, at a time when there is mounting international concern about the clampdown and communications blackout in J&K.

Many countries, especially those with a deeper interest in human rights, are not reassured by India’s announcements about the partial easing of these restrictions. The fact that this coincides with concerns about hundreds of thousands in Assam being possibly rendered stateless has added to the diplomatic challenge. India must continue to challenge Pakistan’s mischievous propaganda. But, at the same time, Delhi should do more to improve the situation in Kashmir, and open up the Valley.

First Published: Sep 11, 2019 19:25 IST