Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, in Lahore | Asad Zaidi/Bloomberg
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan | File photo: Asad Zaidi/Bloomberg
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For decades, Pakistan has sought to internationalise the problem of Kashmir, hoping that it could change the territorial status quo over the erstwhile princely state. India’s decision to repeal Article 370 of its Constitution, ending the special status of Kashmir territory under its administration and dividing it into two Union territories, has had the opposite effect. It makes Kashmir an internal issue for India as well as Pakistan.

The Kashmiri leadership now has three choices: it could take the matter to the Indian Supreme Court and argue that the decision violates Indian constitutional principles; it could mobilise protests that could turn the Kashmir valley into a South Asian West Bank, along with the misery that might bring for the Kashmiri people; or it could try and see how to extract maximum advantage from the new order.

All of these options fall squarely within the framework of India’s constitutional and political system. There seems to be little role for Pakistan, or the international community, in the way forward. India has also not given up claim on all of the former princely state so that it could negotiate a final settlement with Pakistan based on on-ground realities.

If massive protests ensue and India puts them down with a heavy hand, one can expect denunciation of human rights violations. But in today’s world, human rights violations have, regrettably, lost their salience as instigators of international pressure.

Also read: Kashmir Banega Pakistan: A dream sold to brainwash us since childhood now lies in tatters

Pakistan taken by surprise

When Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said ahead of India’s general elections that he saw a better chance of ‘settling’ the Kashmir issue after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election, this is not what he had in mind. Pakistani euphoria over US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate over Kashmir too had raised Pakistani expectations that they would gain something, not lose standing on the issue altogether.

Khan and his Pakistan military mentors were clearly taken by surprise by India’s move. As if in pique, Pakistan has now downgraded diplomatic relations with India and suspended the meagre bilateral trade in protest. But that is just a weak response to domestic critics, led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, who have started alleging that Imran Khan (and the army leadership that backs him) might have ‘sold Kashmir out.’

Public opinion in Pakistan has been fed on Kashmir-related rhetoric for 70 years. But other than political noise at home, funding protests in Kashmir, and raising the spectre of nuclear war, Pakistan has few options.

Since 1989, Pakistan has tried using terrorism as leverage to force India’s hand but that has not worked either. Right now, Pakistan might not want to attract blacklisting by the UN’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which would be unavoidable if it tries to step up terrorist attacks.

Pakistan doesn’t have a strong case

Ideally, the people of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir should be able to live in peace with full human rights and economic opportunities on both sides of the Line of Control. That is unlikely as long as the issue is framed as an India-Pakistan conflict rather than as a matter relating to the lives of Kashmiris.

In any case, Pakistan has also repeatedly altered the status of the parts of Kashmir it controls, weakening its current protestations. In April 1949, Pakistan took over Gilgit-Baltistan (then called the ‘Northern Areas’) through an agreement with the government of Azad Kashmir and the political party, All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference.

In 1969, a Northern Areas Advisory Council (NAAC) was created, followed by the Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC) in 1994. Pakistan’s Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas retained all law-making powers until the 2009 Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, which created an elected legislature and the office of chief minister.

Pakistan’s stance that the status of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was yet to be settled also did not come in the way of the 1963 Pakistan-China boundary agreement that resulted in China ceding some territory to Pakistan and Pakistan recognising Chinese sovereignty over hundreds of square kilometres of land in Northern Kashmir and Ladakh.

Also read: No, Modi’s Kashmir policy isn’t new. He’s only continuing what Nehru started in the 1950s

Pakistan needs to shed inflexibility

India’s latest moves might require a change in Pakistan’s inflexible position that Kashmir is the unfinished business of Partition. That view, notwithstanding its legal merits and the strong sense of injustice among Pakistanis that stems from it, has fewer takers internationally than ever.

In 1948, when India originally took the issue of Jammu and Kashmir to the United Nations complaining about armed Pakistani raiders, a majority of the UN’s 58 members shared Pakistan’s view that princely Kashmir’s accession to India needed review.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for a plebiscite to give the people of Jammu and Kashmir self-determination, which was not implemented by both Pakistan and India. But the last UN Security Council resolution about plebiscite in Kashmir was in 1957, when the total UN membership was 82.

Now, with 193 members, the United Nations shows little interest in the issue. Pakistan’s leaders still refuse to recognise that the territorial status quo and a better life for Kashmiris might be all they can hope for. They prefer to keep Kashmir alive as a problem that is neither solved nor set aside.

Pakistan’s desire for an international solution to Kashmir seems farther from the realm of possibility than ever. In the aftermath of the recent Indian decision, the US noted that India considers it an internal matter.

Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Maldives – all members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – acknowledged the internal nature of the constitutional changes. Among member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), United Arab Emirates (UAE) took the lead in expressing the hope that the changes would improve the lives of Kashmiris.

Imran Khan’s call to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan elicited a promise of “steadfast support” without condemnation of India. A similar call for support to Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Mahathir bin Mohamad resulted only in a lukewarm expression of concern.

Even China’s criticism focused more on its territorial dispute with India over Ladakh than on Pakistan’s stance although the Chinese statement did refer to the dispute as “an issue left from the past between India and Pakistan.”

International relations are seldom about legalistic and moral arguments of the kind Pakistanis offer about the invalidity of then Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession and subsequent UN resolutions on Kashmir. Countries care more about their interests and Pakistan offers less and less in terms of value in relations to others.

China’s annual trade with India amounts to $95 billion compared to $13 billion with Pakistan. Turkey’s trade with India stands at $8.6 billion against $1 billion with Pakistan. Malaysia-India trade at $14 billion is 14 times more than the $1 billion of goods and services Malaysia exchanges with Pakistan.

It is time for Pakistan to take these harsh realities into account instead of just emotional and religion-based appeals to settle what could not be settled in 1947.

Also read: Will scrapping Article 370 and splitting the state resolve Kashmir problem or worsen it?

Husain Haqqani, director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C., was Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States from 2008-11. His books include ‘Pakistan Between Mosque and Military,’ ‘India v Pakistan: Why Can’t we be Friends’ and ‘Reimagining Pakistan.’ Views are personal.

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30 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Hussain Haqqani Is Mostly Honest BUT He Remains A Pakistani Muslim At Heart & Thus Slips Some Fallacies Into His Argument!!

    “The UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for a plebiscite.. which was not implemented by both Pakistan and India…”

    Mr. Haqqani, REFRESH Your Memory: The First Condition Of Plebiscite Was That Pakistani Army Vacate Kashmir!! It NEVER Did So!! So Indian Was NOT Responsible For Not Holding plebiscite In Any Way!! Also, Pakistan Changed The Demography With Majority Punjabi Muslims!! Kashmiri & Shia Population Was Decimated By Your Beloved Pakistan!! And Hardly Anyone Speaks Kashmiri There!!

    In Contrast, Indian Kashmir’s Population & Culture Has Been Preserved!! Do You, Pakistan/Muslims See The Difference??

  2. India which made the recent amendment in its constitution through which it scraped the spicial status of kashmir is still a mind boggling phenomenon. It is out of logic that why pakistani top official are not replying rationally. They are only stating one thing again and again that we will head to international community for yhe purpose to seek a solution to the issue of kashmir but they should be aware that international community is also stress to solve this issue bilaterally and UNSC should be avoided. Now it is up to pakistan military that either they are ready for conventional war or not.

  3. BJP is acrually working anti India. The country once known as secular state, with religious independence to all religions has been hijacked by hindu extremists i.e. RSS. No religion other than Hindus are safe in India. Muslims, Sikhs, Christians have all been discriminated. Burning alive of a muslim teen ager for not enchanting hindu religious slogans few days back is just one point in case.
    Development under such circumstances is a cry far heard. It is believed that such intolerant behaviour, aspirations to suppress common ppl voices in the name of Akhand Bharat are going to be the resaons for disintegration of India…. In sha Allah

    • It is only Muslims who has problems, but then, Muslims have problems everywhere, even in the western countries where most Muslims live on western governmnet handouts. They still bomb their buses and trains.

    • Moreover, if gross violations against minority Muslim populations was really an issue, why are we silent on Turkey’s persecution of the Kurds, the Chinese atrocities against Uighur’s in Xinjiang, the annexation of Kalat, Syrian tyranny under Assad and the Hazara genocide in our own backyard? Do Muslims only get persecuted when the perpetrator is an unfriendly nation? FRIDAY TIMES

    • Maximum Jokes From Pakistani/Muslims While Allah Is Absent When Crimes Are Committed Against Muslims & Hindus!!

      ALL Muslim Nations Have Sent Official letter To @UN praising China for putting Millions Of Uighur Muslims In Concentration Camps Where They Are Forced To Renounce Islam, Tortured, Killed Or Kept In Concentration Camps!!

      Muslim Pakistan Is No. In The Scoundrels List!! Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt & Even State of Palestine Are Among Many Others!!

      What Are They Telling To Hindus, India & The World?? Do The Same??!!

      Else, What Has Happened In Kashmir, West Bengal, Kerala…?? What Is It If Not Islamic Invasion With Evil Anti Human Practices?? What Were Those Calls From Mosques That Called To Kill Hindus & Sikhs??!!

      *If Muslims can be unabashedly assertive about the sanctity of their religious identity and traditions, Hindus & other groups can be unapologetic about their respective identities too!!*

      Serious question for those Pakistanis/Muslims who vehemently support EVIL Islamic Nations With Blasphemy Laws & Minority Genocide: On what basis So You Even object to India IF It Does become a “Hindu Republic?” After All, There Are 50+ Islamic & Christian Majority Nations, Many Of Whom Have Perpetrated Hindu & Minority Genocide. Islamic Pakistan & Bangladesh Are No. 1 On That List!!

      The Reality Is That Muslims Have This obstinate resistance to assimilate with the mainstream when in the minority and dogged persistence in recreating antediluvian theocracies when in majority!!

      The Truth Is That Muslims & Christians Famed For Fraudulent Conversions Have Seriously undermined, if Not Killed the validity of the Indian & Hindu liberal & Secular project!!

    • You Are A LIAR & A Hypocrite!!

      Mention Pakistan’s Hindus & Sikhs/Minority Genocide: At the time of partition in 1947, almost 23 percent of Pakistan’s population was comprised of Hindus & Sikhs. Today, the proportion of These Populations have declined to approximately three percent!!

      So WHY Have They Been Sacrificed & Killed In The Name Of Islam You Bigot??

      Have Muslims & Christians Grown In India?? You Bet!! It Is The Largest EVER Minority Growth In Human History!!

  4. Why indian army in IOK if every thing is normal and attractive for other parts i.e. Gilgit and Kashmir. We hate indian goverment b/c entire globe want to resolve this issue with dialouge but indian govt is closing eyes on this issue and not providing the opertunity to pepole of Kashmir to live happy in their homes.

  5. Kashmir is a disputed territory and soon kashmir will be part of Pakistan according to the wishes of kashmiries.
    Pakistani nation along with pak army will taught you lesson and and take revenge of all atrocities and bloodshed from Indian army.

    • Friendless, and with the euphoric spurt from Trump’s off-the-cuff mediation offer gone in a puff of smoke, Pakistan says it will still continue to fight back.

      The country is in bad shape. It is financially desperate; science and technology-wise it stands nowhere; the largely unskilled workforce is unequipped for a modern economy; population rise is out of control; education is of abysmal quality and access to it is small; work ethics are poor and the citizenry prone to violent behaviour. DAWN 17/8/19

  6. When people call BJP as communal by someone from Pakistan, he need to be shown the mirror. Pakistan executes anyone having a different view on islam. Pakistanis lynch a Christian women for some uttering and sentence her to death. Looks the population of Minorities. Dwindled from the position of what it was in 1947. Indian Muslims have equal rights like any citizen and Pakistan treats even Mohajirs as second rated citizens. Pakistan is known as terror heaven, criticized by US and every other country for terrorism. Maximum number of jihadis come from Pakistan. The courty as whole Pakistan is a failed state.

  7. A good reality presented by none other the person deeply involved in the process. Unfortunately, emotions run high in Pakistan but reality is they are unable maintain what they Azad Kashmir. What is point of self determination, when at least few members of family from POK becomes jihadi ending up life. As country, Pakistan is a failed state and every other country warns Pakistan of harboring terrorism. International funding has become difficult as credit rating absolutely poor. Military thinks of themselves and most ex-military men settled in UK, USA or Canada. Same is the case for political families. Earlier it was two families and third one joined in the name of Imran Khan. Earlier political families have looted enough. Country is poor, but people who had power are rich. It has become nation of terrorits, with majority of common have no say.

  8. POK and gilgit will join back with India when they see Kashmir progress being a Indian ,,,few radical cant suppress rest of the Kashmirs … now its now official they are Indian so on they will get all benefit other Indian is getting in other part of India …

    • The standard of living in Kashmir is higher than many of the Indian states including Gujarat, I fail to see how Kashmiris will benefit. The literacy and Health of the average Kashmiri is better.
      Please solve the problem of open defecation on the railway by India poor, before advising Kashmir on the benefits of joining India.

      • Gujarat is a semi arid area and still its comparable to Kashmir which is naturally gifted. If you really want to compare Kashmir compare it with Goa, kerala, Punjab they are naturally gifted have lots of water and tourism economy then see where Kashmir stands. Question is not whether Kashmir is at better position than other states qus is whether Kashmir is at the place it deserves. With the amount of resources Kashmir have it should not only have been the richest state of India (per capita) but also of the world !

      • You are very right. All these so called advantages are simply over-exaggerated. But I still think Governor’s rule is much better for ANY state in India rather than state government rule. State governments are corrupt and starting from the local MLAs, corporators to municipalities and police, they all cater to the criminal sections of the population only, partly for votebank and partly for financial gains.

  9. These insurgencies tend to fester and unfortunately over time become contagious..
    The US is withdrawing from Afghanistan handing over power to the ‘good’ Taliban. The question is will have the other half of the resistance there, the bad Taliban be looking for a job.
    You can be assured that Pakistan will ramp up its support for the Kashmiri insurgent and will use the help of this bad Taliban. In this case India should be prepared for a long and bloody conflict. This conflict would increasingly be radicalised into a Jihad.
    Over the years this conflict will spread to India’s 150 million Muslims who are now feeling alienated and Some will seek a religious path to emancipation from the status of second class citizenship.
    This is what happens when the rule of law and democracy ends and the law of the jungle commences.
    The population becomes militarised and armed and violence are no longer the prerogative Of the state. Imposition of law and order slips into the hands of the people, and it’s the it’s law of the jungle. Like Syria, ISIS Iraq, Yemen and Libya.
    India will then be ruled by warlords, representing different caste, tribal and religious interests.
    This vision of dystopia in the future is real, we have the horrors of climate change and mass suffering coming, causing widespread civil unrest.
    The Kashmir insurgency might just be te sparks that light up the tinder box.
    INDIA should have negotiated greater autonomy for Kashmir, research has shown this is what the people want. INDIA should Invest its resources, instead of in the military, in creating jobs for Kashmiri youth. Encouraging panchayat democracy in the valley was a great move.
    A prisoner of its rabid communal ideology the BJP has made a disastrous mistake, the Kashmir conflict Has the potential of bringing the rest of India down with it.

    • I see couple of Jihadis have posted here. I have a simple question:
      1) What exactly have you achieved with the land mass and resources you got in 1947 through Jinnah’s Jihad?

      You have produced a failed Terrorist state circulating the begging bowl. No Institutions, fake democracy where military is the ruler, sinking economy.

      2) How conquering another small patch of land for Islam will change anything for you.

      Move on. We will not yield an inch more of land. We gave up enough in 1947. Those who refuse to accept should move to “Pakistan”.

      By the way I’m strictly opposed to Beef lynching and dont agree with everything BJP does. But we are all fed up with Islamic Jihad.

    • Indian Muslims are corrupt and coward like the rest of the population. That is why they ghettoise themselves and do not want to move out of those zopadpatties even if they have a lot of money. They don’t have the courage to fight or take up challenges. So your wish won’t come true.

    • Even Your Name “Syed Asgar Rizwan” Probaly Comes From One Of The Rapists Of Your Mothers Which Forced Islam On You & Made You A Third Class Muslim!!

      Congratulations!! Celebrate Your Rapists!! Islam For Sub Continent Muslims & Especially For Pakistan/Bangladesh Is A CRUEL JOKE!!


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