Indo-Pak diplomatic row

Kashmir Times. Dated: 8/12/2019 1:11:41 AM

Pakistan needs to reconsider its decision to severe and downgrade diplomatic relations with India

Pakistan's decision to downgrade diplomatic relations with India with the expulsion of the Indian High Commissioner, break trade relations and observe August 15 as black day in solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir is a serious setback to diplomatic ties. This announcement of Pakistan comes as a knee-jerk reaction close on heels of abrogation of Article 370 provisions of Constitution of India which guaranteed special status to J&K. This appears to be a tactic adopted for mounting pressure on Pakistani establishment to respond to India's legislative-executive actions that bring down the special status under Article 370 to J&K. Pakistan has consistently in the past described chief ministers of J&K as 'puppets' of New Delhi and never recognised the legitimacy of the government in Srinagar. Its sudden concerns about India's actions in its own territory are reflective of muddled confusion. Ironically, this is the first time Islamabad has articulated that Article 370 was aligned with the interests of the Kashmiri people. Every Pakistani government and the country's permanent establishment have continued to peddle the myth that they could unilaterally alter the status quo in J&K. Now, they feel compelled to respond to the expectations that they have themselves raised in Pakistan Administered Kashmir. Sections of Indian civil society have legitimate concerns about the actions of the BJP-government in making Article 370 hollow and the continued lockdown in Kashmir Valley. The NDA-government, despite support from some of the foreign countries on Kashmir issue, is yet to gauge the impact of its decision on Article 370 and special status to J&K from the people on both sides of the dividing line in Jammu and Kashmir. Deployment of additional troops and imposition of indefinite curfew and other restrictions including suspension of mobile, internet and telecommunication network speaks of the fears in New Delhi of the possible reaction from the people of the strife-torn state. Already the conflict has taken its toll on the life and property of the residents of the state besides the economic conditions. The complete lockdown is making life or the people miserable with no access health, medical, educational and foodstuffs difficult in such a situation. The reaction from the international organizations has been dismal except for some countries which have voiced their concern over the miserable conditions in Kashmir and most other parts of the state.
In the days to come, Pakistan is expected to raise the Kashmir issue at the United Nations, mobilise the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and send envoys to friendly capitals. India is expected to be bracing itself up to deal with Pakistan on the diplomatic front given the changed international context. India's economic clout has grown enormously in the last couple of decades, and given doubts in the Western world about Pakistan's overt and covert support to Islamist terror, New Delhi has the space to deal with Islamabad's efforts to raise this issue at the international fora. Downgrading diplomatic relations between troubled neighbours is never a good idea. Neither is snapping trade and transport links. India withdrew its High Commissioner to Pakistan after the 2001 Parliament attack, but chose not to send back the Pakistani envoy at the time. However, the Pakistani High Commissioner was expelled by India after the Kaluchak terror strike in 2002. It's interesting to note that despite all the troubles the two countries have had, High Commissioners have been able to return to their jobs since full diplomatic relations were restored in 1976. In fact, even after the 2001 Parliament attack, India and Pakistan managed to have their High Commissioners back in place by March 2003. Diplomatic relations is a mechanism to ensure that channels of communication remain open even during the war. While India and Pakistan have used back channels in recent years, the presence of seasoned diplomats in Delhi and Islamabad has always benefited the two countries. Pakistan needs to comprehend this and keep the communication channels open between the two countries for improving the relations in near future and for addressing all the outstanding issues between the two countries.



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