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Pakistan This Week


Photo Source: The News

Pakistan Reader# 126, 9 August 2020

Pakistan This Week



The Kashmir Frenzy and Qureshi's Statement on the OIC

During this week (2-9 August 2020), there were three major developments relating to Pakistan's Kashmir frenzy, questioning OIC's role- failing to intervene adequately on the Kashmir issue, and a series of bills relating to the FATF in the Parliament. This brief looks to explore the first two developments in this regard.

D. Suba Chandran

During this week (2-9 August 2020), there were three major developments relating to Pakistan's Kashmir frenzy, questioning OIC's role- failing to intervene adequately on the Kashmir issue, and a series of bills relating to the FATF in the Parliament. This brief looks to explore the first two developments in this regard.

Pakistan's Kashmir Frenzy

Some of the actions inside Pakistan were rhetoric, addressed at the domestic audience to prove a point that the PTI did better than the other political parties. However, Some are part of Pakistan's long terms plans to fix India.

The week started with Pakistan getting ready for "Youm-e-Istehsal" (Day of Exploitation). On 4 August, Pakistan released a new map approved by the federal cabinet, which included the whole of J&K. Imran Khan stated, "We are bringing a political map of Pakistan before the world which reflects the aspirations of the people of Pakistan… From now on, this map of Pakistan will be used in schools, colleges and globally." According to Qureshi, the new map is also Pakistan's "destiny".

If the map reflects "aspirations of the people of Pakistan", and their "destiny", it also presents Pakistan's position with "such clarity" according to Qureshi. However, the explanation of one of the SAPM's is anything but clarity. According to SAPM Moeed Yusuf, the map asserts Pakistan's claim on the territory, but in no way suggests that the region was part of Pakistan. (Dawn, 5 August 2020). "We have just said that the dispute has to be resolved in accordance with UN resolutions."

So what does the new map claim? And how is it different from the earlier ones? First- is the nomenclature for J&K. Earlier, Pakistan used to refer to it as ' Indian occupied J&K' but now it is being referred to as - 'Indian Illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK)'. The international border that starts from the Arabian sea runs between India and Pakistan, and then claims the entire J&K. However, the eastern side, where Ladakh is, there is no closing of the border. On the north, it claims the entire Siachen, Gilgit and Baltistan, but draws the border up to the Karakoram pass from the northern point from the GB along the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. Though the map has the LoC in dotted line, it calls the region as "Disputed Territory – Final Status to be decided in line with relevant UNSC Resolutions."

What else is new or different in the new map? The map also includes Sir Creek and Junagadh. According to Foreign Minister Shah Qureshi, "We have refuted India's claim in Sir Creek in this map, and we have said that this is Pakistan's position. Our border is to the east while India's position is that it goes to the west. It was seemingly trivial, but if you look at the effects, India has cleverly tried to devour Pakistan's hundreds of kilometres."

The map is undoubtedly a 'Political rhetoric'. Pakistan's own newspapers have questioned the rationale behind the new map, and the future course of action. Dawn, in its editorial, asked: "Firstly, why was the map issued at this juncture? Secondly, how far will this move go in forwarding the Kashmir cause? Rhetoric apart, it needs to be examined what moves are being made on the ground to end India's brutal siege of IHK, and resolve the Kashmir question as per the aspirations of the region's people. Pakistan has always argued that only Kashmiris can decide their destiny, and no changes can be imposed on them. Therefore, while the new map may be designed to express solidarity with Kashmiris, it needs to be reiterated that a final solution to the dispute can only be achieved after Kashmiris express their will in a democratic manner." ("New Map," Dawn, 6 August 2020)

Besides the map, there were two more "concrete" measures adopted by Pakistan to show their solidarity with the Kashmiris and to attain Pakistan's "destiny." One- Pakistan issues a new stamp, and two it has also renamed a highway as "Srinagar Highway" with signs showing the distance to Srinagar and Leh. 

 

Foreign Minister Qureshi's controversial statement on the OIC and Saudi Arabia: Signs of confidence or desperation?

On 6 August 2020, Dawn in a news report titled, ''Qureshi asks OIC to stop dragging feet on Kashmir meeting," mentioned Pakistan's foreign minister making the following statement: "I am once again respectfully telling OIC that a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is our expectation. If you cannot convene it, then I'll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris."

The above statement was made by him while he was on a talk show on ARY News. Either, it was a statement out of desperation, without any prior planning, or a carefully drafted message. If it is desperation, one can understand. Pakistan has been trying to get the OIC to intervene on J&K and make a case against India at the bilateral level. Islamabad has also been wanting that the OIC takes up the case of Kashmir as its own and argues for Pakistan in the international forums, including at United Nations. Unfortunately for Pakistan, neither of these have happened so far. Neither has the OIC come down heavily on India with a statement or has it threatened to take actions against Delhi Nor has it taken up the case of Kashmir in international forums. 

Pakistan is not only frustrated but also desperate to get some international support for its position. Except for a few statements from Beijing, there has been no concrete support for Pakistan on Kashmir. So one could understand if the foreign minister has made that statement out of desperation or frustration.

If it is a message, who is it targeted at? Is it rhetoric targeting the domestic audience that Pakistan is willing to stand up and give an ultimatum to the OIC? Or, is it actually targeting the OIC, and Saudi Arabia?

If it is, can Pakistan afford to? There is no support for Qureshi's bravado against the OIC event within Pakistan. Shahbaz Sharif, leader of the PML-N and the leader of the opposition, called Qureshi's statement as "highly unfortunate and irresponsible." 

The Express Tribune, in its editorial, was even more specific and categorical. It said: "While we have all the right to give precedence to our own national and diplomatic interests, nothing should annoy a friend like Saudi Arabia with which our bilateral ties spans our entire existence as a nation. We are sure the incumbent government realises the importance of Pakistan's strategic relations with Saudi Arabia and knows how to proceed ahead."

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