The escalation of war talk and acts of aggression over the disputed territory of Kashmir is a grave threat to peace in the Asian sub-continent. Both India and Pakistan are armed with nuclear weapons and now is the time for jaw-jaw, not war-war, before the crisis spirals out of control.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, in his speech to the Parliament of Pakistan on 27 February 2019, made it clear that war is not an option either Pakistan or India can afford. The recent theatrics of war games between the two countries would not bring any dividend for both neighbours, except destruction and frustrations.
According to Prime Minister Khan, the current capacity and capability of military weaponry on both sides can easily lead to a miscalculation in terms of war plans. Based on the historical facts, all big wars, including world wars, went out of control of the leaders who were instrumental in starting these wars. Similarly, the prime minister said, in the case of Pakistan and India, any military adventures will not be in anybody’s control once unleashed. He underscored once again that “the hurt that has been caused due to the Pulwama attack was condemned by this government immediately and we want to come to the table and talk about terrorism that affects us both”.
In fact, in his speech on 26 July, 2018, after becoming prime minister, Khan stated that if India takes one step towards Pakistan for resolving bilateral disputes, the latter will take two steps for the same.
Pakistan has suffered from the scourge of terrorism and violence for the past many years. This has had a dampening effect both on its economy and developmental growth. In addition, we have also remained deprived of the fruits of socio-economic achievements throughout the era of globalisation. It is therefore not in the interests of Pakistan to allow its soil to be used for such anti-state activities.
As for the Kashmir dispute: Briefly, it has its historical roots in the Partition of British India in 1947 when, like many other Princely States of India, Kashmiris were given the choice to join either Pakistan or India. The Princely State of Kashmir had a majority Muslim population but the ruler was Hindu. The British colonialists divided Jammu and Kashmir between Pakistan and India in the partition plan and that became the root cause of dispute, as the majority of the population wanted to be part of Pakistan. Since then, both Pakistan and India have their claims with regard to Kashmir.
Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru tabled a resolution in the UN Security Council in 1949-50 assuring the world community of a plebiscite in the Indian Occupied Kashmir for future self-determination of the rights of the Kashmiri people. Since then, the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council are pending to be resolved by the international community. As Pakistan is a party to the UN Security Council resolutions, therefore, the solution of the Kashmir dispute is of particular interest to Pakistan.
The current turmoil in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir emanates from the denial by India of the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people. In doing so, the Kashmiri people have been deprived of their basic rights which have been documented in a report prepared and released by the UN Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights in June 2018, and other international human rights organisations, including the Parliament of the European Union.
Unfortunately, India has been trying to conceal its atrocities by equating the legitimate and indigenous freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people with terrorism. However, contrary to that, the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is still alive on the agenda of the UN Security Council as an internationally-recognised issue.
The Pulwama attack was carried out by a local Kashmiri youth in response to the prevailing unprecedented level of repression. It is logical that India must look inwards towards indigenous factors responsible for such a tragic incident. India needs to introspect and reflect on its own operational and policy failures, rather than shift the blame instantly onto Pakistan.
But the question is what will Pakistan gain from the Pulwama incident? Pakistan has offered talks to India to discuss this incident on evidence-based grounds. Instead, India rolled out full-fledged war hysteria and hatred against Pakistan by blaming it without carrying out any investigations.
India’s belligerent rhetoric and threats, along with recent illegitimate incursions by its air force fighter aircraft violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan, have reaffirmed our resolve to defend our territory against any acts of aggression by India. The shooting down of Indian Air Force aircraft by Pakistan on 27 February 2019 was a part of our self-defence and not offence.
Pakistan strongly believes that India’s reckless action of sending its military aircraft across the Line of Control (LoC) posed a grave risk to peace and stability in South Asia and beyond. As a gesture of goodwill and peace, Prime Minister Khan announced the release of the Indian pilot on 1 March 2019.
Nonetheless, India continued to resort to heavy artillery shelling across the border into Pakistan, resulting in loss of lives, property and livelihoods of poor people living in proximity to border areas.
The international community should play an active role in facilitating a politically sustainable solution to the lingering Kashmir issue. It can be done by involving the relevant parties to remove the major impediment in establishing peace and stability between the two neighbours. In this context, South Africa, being the responsible member of the United Nations Security Council and the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics) forum, can provide the fundamental or umbrella support.
Neither India nor Pakistan stands to gain from the conflict. Instead of becoming hostage to any political expediency and extremist streaks, the two countries should work together and cooperate for a peaceful and prosperous sub-continent by resolving all impediments through dialogue, which Pakistan has offered several times.
There is a dire need for both countries to use all avenues to resolve pending issues through statesmanship. A zero-sum game and military threats are not going to benefit either, except the external interests.
It’s high time to give an olive branch to Prime Minister Imran Khan and a chance to succeed. DM
Sohail Khan is High Commissioner of Pakistan to South Africa.
Watch Pauli van Wyk’s Cat Play The Piano Here!
No, not really. But now that we have your attention, we wanted to tell you a little bit about what happened at SARS.
Tom Moyane and his cronies bequeathed South Africa with a R48-billion tax shortfall, as of February 2018. It’s the only thing that grew under Moyane’s tenure… the year before, the hole had been R30.7-billion. And to fund those shortfalls, you know who has to cough up? You – the South African taxpayer.
It was the sterling work of a team of investigative journalists, Scorpio’s Pauli van Wyk and Marianne Thamm along with our great friends at amaBhungane, that caused the SARS capturers to be finally flushed out of the system. Moyane, Makwakwa… the lot of them… gone.
But our job is not yet done. We need more readers to become Maverick Insiders, the friends who will help ensure that many more investigations will come. Contributions go directly towards growing our editorial team and ensuring that Daily Maverick and Scorpio have a sustainable future. We can’t rely on advertising and don’t want to restrict access to only those who can afford a paywall subscription. Membership is about more than just contributing financially – it is about how we Defend Truth, together.
So, if you feel so inclined, and would like a way to support the cause, please join our community of Maverick Insiders…. you could view it as the opposite of a sin tax. And if you are already Maverick Insider, tell your mother, call a friend, whisper to your loved one, shout at your boss, write to a stranger, announce it on your social network. The battle for the future of South Africa is on, and you can be part of it.