In Pakistan, Kashmir pitch will be shriller ahead of elections


By all indications, Pakistan’s ruling politicians are looking for ways to divert the attention of their citizens from the failures of the government in Islamabad ahead of the upcoming general elections scheduled to be held in February next year. The political parties which have ruled the country for several years together are speechless when it comes to defending themselves on the economic, security, diplomatic and other crucial issues where their performance has been a big zero. The ruling political class of Pakistan has miserably failed in delivering the goods in all fields.

As a result, Pakistan’s common people are witnessing trading of charges between them over one issue or the other. The politicians have no other business to do except pointing fingers at each other for one failure or the other. With such a scenario prevailing ahead of general elections which will be held on February 8 next year, Pakistan’s politicians will be raising the Kashmir issue with the sole agenda to divert the attention of the voters from the core issues of corruption, unemployment, inflation, worsening economic condition, terrorism, etc. It means the Kashmir pitch in Pakistan will get shriller in days to come.

Pakistan’s new caretaker government has already started harping on the Kashmir issue. Only a couple of weeks ago, Pakistan’s interim Prime Minister Anwar Ul Haq Kakar raked up the Kashmir issue during his address to 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. However, India hit out at Pakistan asking it to stop cross-border terrorism, dismantle terror infrastructure on its soil and vacate India territories under its illegal occupation. India also called it as Pakistan’s bid to misuse international forums to peddle propaganda against New Delhi.

New Delhi has reiterated that the Union Territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir are an integral part of India. Matters pertaining to the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are purely internal to India. Pakistan has no locus standi to comment on India’s domestic matters. India has been advising Pakistan to address internal matters and restore order within its own borders rather than indulging in a mischievous agenda against New Delhi.

No doubt, India has been and is always ready with its befitting response to Pakistan on Kashmir. But there will be more attempts by Pakistani politicians to harp on this issue as a diversionary tactic. In fact, the caretaker government gave an ample indication about its strategy to raise the Kashmir issue when it appointed Jalil Abbas Jilani as the country›s foreign minister. Jilani is one of the most vocal voices on the issue of Kashmir.

India had once declared Jilani as persona non grata.  Jilani has been saying that the Kashmir issue must be resolved before taking forward the peace process. Only a few days ago, Pakistan interim foreign minister Jilani blamed India for bilateral relations, saying that New Delhi has reacted negatively to Islamabad’s peace overtures. He, however, conveniently ignored Pakistan’s continuous support to terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

Jilani is likely to raise Kashmir pitch once again even as election dates get nearer in Pakistan. In fact, after the Shehbaz Sharif dispensation, the caretaker government has also miserably failed in containing terrorism in Pakistan. The present regime is also not taking any step to dismantle terror infrastructure on Pakistan’s soil. Experts say that Pakistan is facing isolation on the issue of terrorism internationally and so it needs a reason to divert attention from a series of terror strikes in Pakistan and its inability to contain them. The regime in Islamabad is also unable to defend itself on Pakistan’s abysmal human rights records.

Moreover, Pakistan’s on-going multifaceted crisis shows no sign of abating, with none of the major institutions of the country demonstrating any interest or capacity to act together. As Prime Minister, Imran Khan was also focussed on raising the issue of Kashmir at every international forum including at the UNGA in a bid to hide his failures. The massive economic crisis which people of Pakistan are reeling under is attributed to Imran Khan’s policies as well. The then PM Shehbaz Sharif had blamed his processor Imran Khan for the bad economic conditions of Pakistan claiming that Khan’s corruption and bad governance were the root cause of the problem.

In addition to this, Pakistan failed to get traction for its belligerent stand on Kashmir. Recently, there has been an upsurge in infiltration bids in Jammu and Kashmir from across the border. Evidence suggests that Pakistan is making full efforts to infiltrate terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir to hinder progress being made in internal security conditions in the region. Security forces thwarted an infiltration bid in the Uri sector of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Wednesday (November 15), shooting dead two suspected terrorists when a group was trying to cross the LoC from Pakistan side.

India needs to be extra cautious as there might be more such attempts of infiltration at the behest of Pakistan’s state actors who want to shift the focus of Pakistan’s citizens from core domestic matters and problems to the Kashmir issue. Undoubtedly, Pakistan continues to face a multitude of challenges. So its tactics like in constantly diverting attention to issues such as Kashmir.