With Kashmir not finding any mention whatsoever in the Tashkent Declaration of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Pakistans last bastion of hope to internationalise the Kashmir issue has once again crumbled. Since mention of Kashmir has been a regular feature in the OICs declaration for the last four years, its omission this year comes as a big embarrassment for Islamabad. What makes it even more discomforting for Islamabad is that this shocker comes at a time when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is busy patting his own back by claiming that Islamabads biggest ever diplomatic blitz on Kashmir is an unparalleled success.
There is no gainsaying that the current crisis in Kashmir provided Islamabad an excellent opportunity to diplomatically bring the Kashmir issue into international focus. However, if Islamabad was thinking that it could succeed in its diplomatic efforts to garner support for implementing UN resolutions on Kashmir then it was not only being unrealistically optimistic but also sadly mistaken. Nevertheless, it could have effectively used the high casualty rate of protesters to awaken moral conscience of the international community and build up global consensus for intervention in Kashmir on humanitarian grounds. Islamabad did try to do this, but its strategy not only failed but also backfired.
Sharif made an extremely impassioned speech on the Kashmir imbroglio at the UNGA. He followed this by trying to solicit Washingtons intervention in Kashmir and recently Islamabad has also handed over a dossier on Indian atrocities in Kashmir to the UN Secretary General. As an added measure, Sharif even dispatched 22 legislatures for (in his own words), fighting the case of Kashmiri nation in different parts of the world. However, to put it bluntly, the indifferent response of the international community to Pakistans pleas just goes to prove that all his elaborate efforts to internationalise the Kashmir issue once again failed to deliver.
And this raises the question, Why?
The answer is not hard to find. Winston Churchill had defined diplomacy as the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions. However it appears that either Sharif hasnt come across this illuminating quote or that he doesnt believe what Great Britains tallest Prime Minister said because while espousing the Kashmir cause he did just the opposite. Sharif may have earned kudos from the separatist camp in Kashmir for hailing slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani as a Kashmiri leader while reacting to the news of his death in an encounter with security forces. However, to reiterate this in his UNGA speech was a monumental mistake as the international community didnt quite appreciate his attempt to elevate a militant to the status of a leader.
Winston Churchill had defined diplomacy as the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions. However it appears that either Sharif hasnt come across this illuminating quote or that he doesnt believe what Great Britains tallest Prime Minister said because while espousing the Kashmir cause he did just the opposite. Sharif may have earned kudos from the separatist camp in Kashmir for hailing slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani as a Kashmiri leader while reacting to the news of his death in an encounter with security forces. However, to reiterate this in his UNGA speech was a monumental mistake as the international community didnt quite appreciate his attempt to elevate a militant to the status of a leader.
Even if Sharif genuinely believes that Burhan Wani was a Kashmiri leader and not a terrorist, being the experienced politician that he is, one would have expected him to know that in diplomacy personal opinions dont count. Moreover, with UN designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed going on record to say that Wani was telephonically in touch with him and disclosing that a high ranking commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba (a Pakistan based UN designated terrorist group) was leading his funeral procession, for Sharif to laud Wani in his UNGA speech was suicidal. India got the chance it needed and took full advantage of Sharifs diplomatic blunder by dubbing Pakistan as the Ivy league of terrorism and successfully linked the current unrest in Kashmir to terrorism.
Therefore, even before Sharifs emissaries embarked on their foreign trip to appraise influential world leaders about the Kashmir crisis it was known that this ambitious mission would fail and proof of this is that New Delhi took no actions to counter this move taken by Islamabad. And it is Sharifs diplomatic indiscretion of showcasing militant commander Wani as the face of the Kashmir struggle that has resulted in Kashmir losing support of the OIC. The clue as to why Kashmir found no mention in its Tashkent Declaration is contained in the text of the OIC resolution that reads We are continuing to advocate for further close cooperation in the fight against terrorism, spread of extremist ideology, especially amongst youth.
However, what is most perplexing is that while the full text of the OIC Tashkent Declaration that I accessed on the internet doesnt have any reference to Kashmir, PTI has quoted Pakistan Foreign Office stating that amongst other Kashmir related issues, the OIC resolution:
- Reaffirmed unwavering support to the just cause of Kashmiri people expressed deep concern and condemned in the strongest possible terms the unabated killing of defenseless Kashmiris.
- Declared that demonstrations by unarmed Kashmiris in the wake of Hizbul Commander Burhan Wanis death are a referendum against India.
- Rejected Indian attempts to equate the indigenous freedom movement of Kashmiris in Kashmir as terrorism.
The disquieting anomaly in the (internet accessed) official text of the OIC resolution and PTI report on what the Pakistan Foreign Office claims is rather startling because it is very difficult to discern as to who is lying and who is telling the real truth. However, one thing is certain – the element of violence is damaging the Kashmir struggle most. We may eulogise militancy as armed struggle and like the purported OIC declaration issued by Pakistan reject Indian attempts to equate the indigenous freedom movement of Kashmiris in Kashmir with terrorism but the fact of matter is that our belief is not shared by the international community. Now that even the OIC has forsaken Kashmir, it is for the separatist leaders to introspect on why this happened and thereafter take a call on its future strategy for taking the right to self determination movement forward.
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