The much-awaited speeches of the prime minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan at the United Nations General Assembly were along predictable lines – albeit this time the contrast in their content was starker. While the PM chose to ignore Pakistan and Kashmir and focussed speech on his government’s achievements in India, Khan highlighted the ongoing troubled situation in the state and its dangers to regional and global peace if no steps were taken to address it.
“There will be bloodbath in Kashmir,” Khan said.
India, in its response, has slammed Khan’s speech, saying it “bordered on crudeness”.
Khan also attacked the ideology of the PM Modi and the RSS, building up on the argument he made against the BJP government and its philosophical progenitor in his recent New York Times article.
However, in his speech, the PM Modi stayed short of attacking Pakistan. He did mention terror though and sought global cooperation to fight it.
Other than Khan raking up Kashmir at every available opportunity during his US visit, the major powers remain reluctant to take a more forceful public position on the state following New Delhi’s revocation of the Article 370. True, the US president Donald Trump has been quite vocal about US concerns on the state repeatedly calling for “arbitration or mediation” and urging the two nuclear-armed countries “to work it out,” there is little hope that the US can do anything more without New Delhi giving up its long-standing position on third-party mediation.
As far as Islamabad’s relations with India are concerned, US will be reluctant to play an active role – albeit behind the scenes Washington has traditionally egged on the two countries to resume dialogue. Similarly, on Kashmir, Washington will hardly drift from its policy of letting the neighbours sort it out. But despite this, Trump’s repeated calls for mediation have their own significance considering the current situation in Kashmir
Where do we go from here? As things stand, there isn’t much that is going to change in near future. India and Pakistan have positioned themselves rigidly on the opposite sides of the divide and ratcheted up their rhetoric on Kashmir. Pakistan has returned to its historical stand on the dispute which makes the UN resolutions as the bedrock for Kashmir solution. And India terms Kashmir as its integral part, more so after the withdrawal of the state’s partial autonomous status, and wants to talk to Pakistan only about its “occupation” of the Pakistan Administered Kashmir.
Such hawkish stances on both sides hardly bode well for the peace in Kashmir and in the region. The importance of the engagement between two countries at this time, therefore, cannot be over-emphasised. Longer they don’t talk, the worse the situation may get.