India, Pakistan in diplomatic war on Kashmir issue, China muddies waters

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) greets India's Narendra Modi. Photograph:( Getty )

WION New Delhi, India Jul 22, 2016, 02.48 AM (IST) Iftikhar Gilani
After a lull of almost 22 years, India and Pakistan have returned to fight on Kashmir on the diplomatic turf, with China also muddying waters, dropping its usual reticence and unilaterally commenting on the violence in the region.

The situation in Kashmir has also come handy for China to hit down its relations with India.After opposing India's membership at the NSG, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang in a usual departure said Beijing was concerned at the situation in the state od Jammu and Kashmir. "We are equally concerned about the casualties in the clash, and hope that the relevant incident will be handled properly," she said.

Diplomatic sources here say that the China's commentary on Kashmir and its stand at the NSG was rooted in re-hyphenating India with Pakistan as well as claiming the sole ownership of being the Asian power.

Last time, Pakistan had attempted a major diplomatic move on Kashmir in March 1994, by pushing the grouping of Islamic countries and some Western nations to sponsor a resolution at the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) against India.

While India's home minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday categorically blamed Pakistan for the unrest, ministry of external affairs (MEA) also hit out at Islamabad for observing 'Kashmir's Accession to Pakistan Day' and 'Black Day'.

The MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop asked the world to take note that rallies and events over past two days in Pakistan were led by UN-designated terrorists. These groups in the past "protested the elimination of dreaded terrorists, including Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Akhtar Mansour, in Pakistan".

In Pakistan, Sartaj Aziz, adviser to prime minister Nawaz Sharif, announced that his country will approach the UNCHR on its own behalf and on behalf of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) contact group on Kashmir to demand sending a fact-finding mission to Kashmir and also to impose a ban on the use of pellet guns for dispersing people exercising their right to protest.

Last time, Pakistan burnt its fingers at the UNCHR in 1994, when India succeeded in prevailing upon Iran to abstain at the OIC session from voting, and thereby failing the consensus required to back the resolution.

The joint OIC resolution, backed by some Western nations, was supposed to be put before the UNCHR, which if approved was to be referred to the UN Security Council for initiating economic sanctions and other punitive measures against India. That was also the last time Pakistan tried to get a resolution on the Kashmir issue tabled in a UN forum.

Since the latest flare-up in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Indian leadership at the highest level had decided to ignore incessant provocation and statements from Pakistan, terming them as political compulsions of Nawaz Sharif government in the wake of assembly elections in the PoK. But the rallies of jihadis in Pakistan seem to have pushed New Delhi's patience to limits.

In a strong recrimination, India also urged Islamabad to stop "misleading" the international community and Kashmiris through meaningless exercises. In a statement, the spokesperson asked Pakistan to fulfill its obligation to vacate illegal occupation of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and refrain from its deplorable meddling in internal affairs in any manner. "We once again ask Pakistan to stop inciting and supporting violence and terrorism in any part of our country and refrain from its deplorable meddling in our internal affairs in any manner."

"In view of the threats of marches and protests at the High Commission of India in Islamabad, we ask the government of Pakistan to ensure full safety and security of the High Commission, all its officials and their families in Pakistan," the statement concluded.

In the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, interior minister Rajnath Singh categorically blamed Pakistan for the unrest in the Kashmir saying that the terrorism in the Valley is Pakistan-sponsored.

He said the neighbouring country, instead of fixing its internal matters, is trying to destabilise India. He also took strong exception for observing Black Day in Pakistan after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, who was involved in various heinous crimes and activities.

Stating that Pakistan has no right to interfere in India's internal matters, he said it was doing so to deflect attention from its failures as the people there were fighting along sectarian lines.

Training guns further, he said the country came into being in the name of religion, but failed to keep the Muslims together and underwent a division. "It does not need to worry about Muslims in India," he said and invoked former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's poem to suggest that those who fuel fire in the homes of others get caught in the same blaze.

In Islamabad, Aziz promised every possible effort to draw international attention towards "Indian brutalities" and to resolve the dispute. He also said he has shot off letters to the UN secretary general, president of the Security Council, OIC secretary general, UN high commissioner for Human Rights and the foreign ministers of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir (Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Turkey).