Pakistan Reader# 121, 19 July 2020
Pakistan This Week (12-19 July 2020)D. Suba Chandran
Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir
In the News
For Pakistan, especially Imran Khan, the week started and ended with Kashmir. On Monday (13 July 2020), he started with the tweet: "Today, on Yaum-e-Shuhada-e-Kashmir, we salute Kashmiris for their continued struggle against the illegal and barbaric Indian occupation of Jammu & Kashmir. The Shuhada of 13 July 1931 were the forefathers of today's Kashmiri resistance."
On Sunday (19 July 2020), he tweeted again on Kashmir: "Today we commemorate the historic occasion of Youm-i-Ilhaq-e-Pakistan, when Kashmiris passed a resolution for accession to Pakistan. We reaffirm our commitment to the Kashmiri people & stand with them in their struggle for self-determination."
Issues in the background
First, there is a trend to Imran Khan's tweets and obsession towards Kashmir. None of the provinces within Pakistan has assumed as much importance for Imran Khan during this week, as Kashmir has been. During the recent months, especially since August 2019, one could see Imran Khan and his government pursuing an overkill with his Kashmir focus. So much so, Sardar Mengal, while announcing his decision to part with the ruling coalition in June 2020, made a statement in the Parliament, that Kashmir has acquired a larger focus, than Balochistan.
Second, Imran Khan is playing to four audiences – two within and two outside. First, the domestic political audience within. Imran Khan wants to prove that he and the PTI have done more to Kashmir than the previous Prime Ministers and their parties (PML-N and PPP). The other domestic audience is the Deep State, that has been one of the primary factors that brought him to power. The Deep State would be thrilled for numerous factors – explained subsequently.
Two external audiences for Imran Khan are the Kashmiris and the international community. Since the days of Musharraf, there has been a return of normalcy to the Kashmir Valley and also Indo-Pak relationship. A section within Pakistan has been apprehensive that Islamabad would lose its locus-standi in Kashmir if it let the status quo continue. When the BJP government decided to abrogate Article 370 and pursue a muscular policy towards Kashmir, this section wanted to use the situation to bring Pakistan back in. And that is precisely what Pakistan has been doing. And to an extent successfully.
Imran Khan has also been systematic in "internationalising" the Kashmir cause. From the UN to the OIC, and in terms of bringing Kashmir in bilateral issues with other countries as well, Imran Khan aims to bring the international community back to South Asia and wants them to feel, that Kashmir is no more normal, and would become a nuclear flashpoint if rest of the world ignore it.
Kulbushan Jadav and Pakistan's "Goodwill" gestures
In the news
The second significant development was related to the Consular access to India on Kulbushan Jadav, whom Pakistan claimed to have arrested in Balochistan in 2016.
On Friday (17 July 2020), a statement from Pakistan's foreign office mentioned the following: "Pakistan remains committed to fully implementing the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) judgement of 17 July 2019. It is hoped that India will cooperate with the Pakistan court in giving full effect to the said judgement… Two consular officers of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad were provided unimpeded and uninterrupted consular access to Commander Jadhav at 1500 hours."
Issues in the background
Pakistan wants to show the world that it has provided access to India to speak with Kulbushan Jadav and that India has refused to take the offer. The presence of security personnel became the issue for the Indian officials and had to refuse the offer. Perhaps, that is precisely what Pakistan wanted.
Second, projecting the order as a goodwill gesture. Pakistan also wants to tell the world, that it is "committed to fully implementing the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) judgement", which includes consular access. However, Pakistan wants to take credit for doing so as a "goodwill gesture."
Third, the political opposition to the PTI's strategy both within and outside the Parliament. Bilawal Bhutto said: "PTI will not be forgiven' for bringing in an ordinance to 'facilitate Kulbhushan Jadhav."
The Civil Aviation Authority says that the licenses of pilots are genuine
In the news
The Director of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in Pakistan declared in a letter: "…that all CPL/ATPL pilot licences issued by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority are genuine and validly issued. None of the pilot licences are fake, rather the matter has been misconstrued and incorrectly highlighted in the media/social media."
The CAA Director was writing to the concerned department in Oman so that the latter does not close the air space to Pakistan International Airlines. Following an air crash in Karachi and its subsequent investigation, the Civil Aviation Minister of Pakistan in Parliament made a claim that 40 percent of the licenses that the Pakistani pilots have, are fake.
Issues in the background
First, the international pressure on the PIA and the pilots who have acquired licences from Pakistan's authorities. Following the statement from the civil aviation minister, concerned departments from the US to Malaysia, including EU banned/suspended the PIA and pilots with Pakistani licenses. It was not only financial loss but also of the face. Many pilots with licenses from Pakistan fly national carriers and private airlines outside Pakistan.
Second, there is a difference between the CAA and the civil aviation ministry. Perhaps the former is attempting to cover up the case, while the latter has already made an announcement in the Parliament about fake licenses by the pilots in Pakistan.
Third, there is an attempt to shift the blame on the media for blowing up the issue. Editorials and opinion articles in the media have already questioned this attempt.